Author: Guest Blogger


About Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.

Dolapu Ojutiku, MBA ’21, writes today about his summer consulting experience at Liberty Mutual. He was invited to return to Liberty Mutual full-time after graduation. His contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences with the Olin blog.

My internship has been one of the highlights of my MBA experience so far. I spent my summer working at Liberty Mutual as a consultant in the corporate development program. I worked on a project that had real impact on the company. I did an assessment of one of our largest vendors to streamline processes and evaluate opportunities for improvements. One of my contributions that is being implemented is a scorecard that provides better insights into the performance of our vendors. It was an eventful summer and I’m pleased to be joining the company full time after graduation. 

My internship was originally intended to be in person but ended up being virtual due to work-from-home policies as a result of the coronavirus. I initially wasn’t sure what to expect, but the company did a great job of creating ways to engage with us and build community virtually. Some examples of this include a virtual town hall with the CEO to address racial injustice in the US, an executive speaker lunch series for the interns, and a virtual baking event with Joanne Chang (Boston’s Flour Bakery), a former management consultant turned chef.

Olin did a great job preparing me. I started working with my career coach at the time, Jeff Stockton, before I had even arrived on campus to start my program. I was able to participate in the Consortium Orientation Program in Houston last summer and had to get ready for recruiting much earlier than usual. The WCC team—as well as my academic advisor, Ashley Macrander—were also a good support system throughout my first year.

I found that a lot of the frameworks we learned during Seth Carnahan’s strategy class turned out to be valuable for my internship. Two other classes that really helped me succeed were “Negotiation,” by Hillary Anger Elfenbein, and “Power & Politics” by Peter Boumgarden. Lessons from those classes came in handy when negotiating with cross-functional teams and influencing people to buy-in to my project.

My advice for students about the interview process is to try to network as much as possible, since you never know who might end up being your advocate in discussions that you’re not part of. I also found value in starting case prep very early on; I attended the Management Consulted workshop as well as some of the OSCA case sessions and found them to be very helpful in supplementing my case prep. In my personal experience, preparing well for the consulting case interview made other interviews easier.

In hindsight, I realize that a lot of the pillars we value at Olin helped prepare me for my internship. I had to be entrepreneurial and take ownership for the direction and outcome of my project. I also needed to make sure that decisions I made were supported by data, but not without considering the effect it had on our customers and the values they’ve come to expect from the company.

WashU students in The Hatchery course in the early part of the fall 2020 semester getting coaching from Olin alumni.

This is a repost from the blog for the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Sydney Everett, marketing and communications specialist for the center, wrote this post.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020, was a busy day for WashU entrepreneurship. The day began with the seven Skandalaris Venture Competition Finalists presenting their ideas to a panel of esteemed judges and ended with the WashU Entrepreneurship awards, a recognition of the achievements of the startups in the Skandalaris Venture Competition, Olin’s Big IdeaBounce, and the Hatchery.

Over $40,000 was awarded to nearly 40 teams, including the $22,500 through the Skandalaris Venture Competition. One of the highlights of the night was the presentation of the Skandalaris Venture Competition winners by Skandalaris Center Managing Director and Assistant Vice Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship II Luscri, and Assistant Director of Venture Development Cyril Loum.

“It is an honor to partner with NSIN, Holekamp Seed Fund, and Olin’s Entrepreneurship Program to present the WashU Entrepreneurship Awards. We must now more than ever celebrate the innovative achievements of our entrepreneurial students and alumni,” shared II Luscri. “I continue to admire how these ventures are addressing the world’s problems.”

The Skandalaris Venture Competition is made possible by the generous support from Skandalaris National Council member Kishore Kanakamedala. From the finalist’s written summaries and presentations, three winners were chosen.

First place and the $10,000 cash prize was awarded to Cedars Health, Inc., an implantable device that provides immediate and permanent relief of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) symptoms without complications.

The team of Raphael Chung (BS’19, MS ’20), Kevin Park (BS ’20), and Dr. Arett (Associate Professor of Surgery, School of Medicine). “SVC was a great opportunity for us to refine our pitch and present our startup. We strove to make our presentation clear and impactful so that we could get our message across in a short period of time. We are thankful that the judges understood and believed in our vision,” Raphael Chung. “We will be using the award to make our prototypes and acquire materials for experiments.”

Cedars Health, Inc. was also selected as the fifth runner-up in Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce.

The second-place winner, Lifted Pouches, received $7,500 for their “ready to consume” pre-workout supplement for the health-conscious individual on the go. Tuesday was a successful night for the team of Derek Leiter (MBA ’21), Tyler Edwards (MBA ’21), Marguerite Whitelaw (MBA ’21), and Zach Hechtman (BSBA ’21), who also won second place in The Hatchery (Olin Cup) and second place in Olin’s Big IdeaBounce.

Speaking on behalf of the team Derek described the benefits of SVC for Lifted Pouches, “while participating in SVC, I began to understand through multiple judges’ feedback and questions on how to construct a story that has a broader impact on possible investors. Addressing their concerns and questions allowed me to understand how those on the other end of my presentations were perceiving my product.” Lifted Pouches plans to use their winnings to place their first production run orders from their manufacturing partners and to bring the product to market.

Golden Roots Essentials was the third-place winner and recipient of $5,000. Fanta Kaba (MBA ’21), has developed a natural, holistic, and luxurious lifestyle brand focused on personal care, beauty, and style. Golden Roots Essentials utilizes overlooked centuries-old traditional African skincare rituals and ingredients to create innovative healthy skincare products.

Reflecting on her win Fanta shared, “Winning a pitch competition is always refreshing! It gives a sense of validation in the very thing you live and work so hard for. With the SVC Pitch Competition prize money, Golden Roots will be heavily investing in branding efforts. From packaging to social media presence to our website. We feel so excited and grateful for such an opportunity.”

Applications for the Spring 2021 Skandalaris Venture Competition Cycle are open now through February 1, 2021. We encourage any current WashU students and alumni within one year of graduation with an early-stage venture or idea to enter!

Pictured above: WashU students in The Hatchery course in the early part of the fall 2020 semester getting coaching from Olin alumni.

This post was written by Jill Jarret, an event and program coordinator for the Weston Career Center

Embracing the virtual event space

This fall, the Weston Career Center did something we’ve never done before: We delivered multiple signature networking events, virtually. Back in March, when our team realized we would be working in a virtual environment for the foreseeable future, we quickly started researching ways to provide students with safe opportunities to connect with employers and alums in a worthwhile way.

“We wanted to create events where students could have meaningful conversations that would create valuable connections both now and in the future,” said Jen Whitten stated, associate dean and director of the WCC. 

Hidden benefits

One of the benefits of moving to a virtual event environment was being able to invite employers who wouldn’t normally attend an in-person event. This meant having companies like Microsoft and Google attend our MBA Summit event, in addition to more alumni participants from across the globe for all events. We know our alumni want to give back, but they are often unable to spend the time or money to physically come to campus. Hosting virtual events provided a great opportunity for alums to connect with students from the comfort of their own homes or offices.

“[We were] impressed by Olin’s organization and ability to turn a tough recruiting challenge into what seemed like a great touchpoint! Especially for firms that don’t make the trip to campus, I think this setup could be a really helpful ongoing event,” said Carly Anderson from General Mills, LA ’09, MBA ’13.

Supporting international students

While transiting to a virtual environment presented a new challenge, so did having a large number of students physically based in Asia. We wanted to create events that would be accessible and valuable for all our specialized masters’ students, regardless of where in the world they live. To meet this challenge, we created two Specialized Masters Summit events—one focused on students interested in working in Asia, which was held in Mandarin Chinese, and the other for students interested in working in the United States.

Di Lu, our Shanghai-based business development lead, was instrumental in our Asia-focused event, ensuring the event took place at a time that would work well for all students, and securing alumni from 18 companies to participate.

Springing ahead

Although we were unsure how students would respond to this “new normal,” we were pleasantly surprised by their positivity and embrace of virtual networking. Many students, when faced with video issues in the event platform, quickly provided employers with Zoom links to ensure quality conversations.

For our internal event planning team, we used Microsoft Teams to stay connected in real time during the event, and for our Specialized Masters Summit US event, also had a staff member monitoring a WeChat group for the event to ensure we could address student questions as quickly as possible.

While the majority of feedback from students, company representatives and alumni was positive, we are actively working through the pain points (e.g., video connectivity issues, student-to-company representative ratio) to ensure our spring events are set up to leverage the technology in a way that will ensure an even better experience for all involved, no matter where in the world they are.

Michelle Tucker is president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. She spoke to Olin students in January in Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top, a class the Bauer Leadership Center offers.

Here, Lael Bialek, MBA ’20, shares her thoughts on Tucker’s talk:

Philosophy on leadership

Lael Bialek

Michelle Tucker attributed her professional achievement to her choice to follow her passion and be her authentic self. The president  and CEO role at the United Way of St. Louis was not a position Tucker pursued. Rather, her reputation as a leader who genuinely cared about the community and had followed her passion out of the corporate world made her the standout choice for the job.

Tucker acknowledged that following your passion often requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. In an effort to contribute to her community in more impactful ways, Tucker left behind the comforts and luxuries she had enjoyed at Bank of America for almost 20 years.

She described how she stepped out of her comfort zone to step forward and lead an organization with a mission she was passionate about. Taking that step required Tucker to be brave and become comfortable in being uncomfortable.

Trajectory of career

Tucker’s commitment to the St. Louis community has been the driving force in her career. During her time at Bank of America, Tucker worked to expand and define her roles such that she was in a position to develop and implement strategies that enabled Bank of America to support the St. Louis community.

Although Tucker had the opportunity to engage with the community through her work at Bank of America, she knew her passion, experience and skills could make a huge difference in a mission-driven nonprofit organization. Tucker followed her heart to Epworth Children & Family Services. Likewise, her decision to leave Epworth after two years to lead the United Way of St. Louis stemmed from her passion for contributing to the community.

Lessons learned

Having spent seven years working with nonprofits before pursuing my MBA, it was incredibly exciting and powerful for me to have the opportunity to learn from a successful and respected nonprofit leader in the St. Louis community. Tucker’s story and poise radiated curiosity, tenacity and courage—characteristics I will strive to emulate as I continue work to develop and refine my leadership style.


Tucker has only been able to live out her passions through tremendous bravery. She has continually pushed the boundaries of her comfort and put herself in the best possible position to affect positive change. Her courageousness had taken many forms—from working at Bank of American at a time when African-American females in the banking industry were few and far between to stepping away from the luxuries of the corporate world to lead a nonprofit organization.

Tucker understands the value of her intellectual capital and has never let fear keep her from utilizing it in meaningful and impactful ways. Her career is inspirational. I had never considered that acting on your passion could be an act of bravery. Tucker has inspired me not to let my fears and insecurities hold me back. I hope to someday give as much of myself as I can to my community and model courageousness as Tucker does.

Katherine Dudley, BSBA ’22, is a Wood Scholarship recipient, part of Olin’s Scholars in Business Program. This year, Howard and Marilyn Wood have generously committed to match all new and increased gifts and multi-year pledge payments for undergraduate and graduate scholarships—up to a total of $400,000, through June 30, 2021. Dudley shares how the Wood Scholarship has impacted her studies.

I remember my first visit to Washington University. When I walked on campus I just knew this school was the best fit for me.

I remember telling my mom on the campus tour, “This is it. This is where I have to go to school. I love everything about it. It’s perfect.”

My mind buzzing with possibility, I started working on my application the day I got back home. I applied early decision, which meant that I checked my email obsessively throughout the beginning December, hoping with my whole my heart that WashU would welcome me to its freshman class.

There was one day, though, that I did not check my email. It had been a busier day than usual, and my dad took one of my three sisters and me to watch a collegiate volleyball game. We arrived home to the house decorated with red and green balloons and streamers: My mom had seen the news of my acceptance to the school of my dreams. My future never felt brighter!

Then came the tough part. How could my family possibly afford to send me to WashU?

I am the oldest of four girls, and I grew up rarely seeing my dad due to his ever-changing, chaotic work schedule. He was always there for me—and when it came to my education, he said, “That school is worth every penny of the tuition. If she can get in, I’ll make it work. I’ll add shifts, I’ll do whatever it takes because Olin is worth it, and so is Kat’s future.”

For me, to hear his response now fills me with joy that my dad was so proud and loved me so much that he was willing to add to his work load. Yet, hearing his response also adds new perspective. Extra shifts would mean that he would be away from my mom and sisters even more than he already is.

With my family and future at Olin in mind, I got to work writing essays for scholarships. I applied for each of the five scholarships available to Olin students. And in the same way the news of my acceptance to WashU became an unforgettable moment, Dean Malter’s phone call to personally tell me he loved my essay changed my life once again. In my essay I had written about my experience with Athleta, a national athleisure fashion company, and the nonprofit that I started in my hometown called Koats4Kids. Both experiences reflected my passion for helping kids and teens through clothing.

I was on the treadmill completing a track workout at the local rec center when my mom ran over shouting, “Kat, Kat, Dean Malter is on the phone!” I immediately pulled the emergency treadmill cord, jumped off, grabbed the phone and ran to the empty dance room to find some quiet.

Breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest from nervous excitement. My mind was spinning. Dean Malter shared that Olin would like to offer me a full-ride scholarship.

In shock, my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed into a crouched position. I turned to my mom and with tears in my eyes mouthed, “full-ride.” And I can honestly say I don’t remember much of what happened right after that because I was so happy and excited that I just started to laugh and cry, and I think I remember my mom cheering and crying too. The best part of this story was telling my dad, who has been my biggest supporter and has made so many sacrifices for my family and me.

The Wood Scholarship has given me the gift of time and focus. Without the pressure to find part-time work, I have been able to commit myself wholeheartedly to academics, track and leadership roles at Olin. I will be able to study abroad, represent Olin as a rising intern and engage fully in all of the opportunities Olin provides outside of the classroom. The college experience I have dreamed of is now possible because of the generosity of the Wood family. My family’s and my profound gratitude for the Wood Scholarship is matched by our pride as a WashU family.

I am also grateful for my growing relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Their generosity continues to change the lives of students like me. In later years, when I am a successful Olin alumna, I will pay the Wood’s kindness forward, with the goal of impacting the lives of future Olin students, just as the Woods have forever changed mine.

Wood Scholars with Howard and Marilyn Wood. Dudley is pictured in the second row, second from the right.

About Howard Wood

Howard Wood, BSBA ’61, grew up in the lead mining community of Bonne Terre, Missouri, just sixty miles south of St. Louis. His parents, both schoolteachers, wanted him to attend college, but they did not have the financial means to support his education. Howard and his brother, Donald Wood, BSBA ’66, received scholarships from Henry Day, president of a mining and manufacturing business in Bonne Terre.

After graduating from Olin, he went on to have a successful accounting career at Arthur Andersen & Co., quickly rising through the ranks. Switching gears, he took on the roles

of CFO and CEO of Cencom Cable Television before co-founding two telecommunications companies, Charter Communications Inc. and Cequel III LLC.

Howard has been a champion of WashU Olin Business School for decades. Since 1995, Howard has served in leadership roles for the Olin Alumni Association and Olin National Council. In 1998, he established the Wood Leadership Fellows Program, which evolved into the Wood Scholars Program in 2016. Wood Scholars receive significant awards to attend Olin each year.

Howard also served on the Washington University Board of Trustees beginning

in 2000 and was named an emeritus trustee in 2011. He has been heavily involved in the success of the university and Olin and hopes to ensure a bright future for even more students through this challenge.

Learn more about supporting scholarships at WashU Olin and how you can take part in the Wood Scholarship Challenge.

Angel An, BSBA

Angel An, BSBA ’16, works for Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, where she supports and invests in early stage tech and tech-enabled startups led by women and multicultural entrepreneurs. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

 “All talents deserve to be seen.”

That was the life belief of my dearest mentor, Susan Stanton, who spent her entire life educating and mentoring underrepresented students and young professionals like myself—despite having no child of her own.

Unfortunately, she passed away last year. Because there is nothing I could do for her but pay it forward, my co-founders and I created ACE Women’s Collective to honor Susan and many selfless mentors like her to help our peers the way Susan helped me: by supporting all talents, connecting growth-oriented people and sharing knowledge and resources.

ACE is an online community where junior women in finance talk candidly and empower one another. We crowdsource mentorship and make the advice that is usually only shared behind closed doors accessible to all.

Specifically, we host intimate speaker sessions, provide a forum for peer mentorship and encourage our community members to strategize to win.

A rewarding start to ACE

ACE launched on September 1, 2020. Merely after the first month, we were thrilled to have connected with more than 500 ACE members. We successfully hosted the first fireside chat with about 100 attendees.

Looking at a virtual room of diverse audience members who took an hour off on a Thursday night to attend our event, I felt moved by their commitment to personal development and shocked by the overwhelming desire to find the right mentors (see event Instagram recap).

As a Chinese lady and foreign worker in the United States in the banking industry, I learned the hard way that hard work alone is definitely not enough. Without the right mentors to help us navigate through office politics, we would pretty much be in the dark.

However, finding a right mentor is primarily based on luck, given the serious pipeline issue with successful female leaders. Hectic work schedules, competitive personalities and conflicts of interest can make it even more challenging.

Another event on tap

I am grateful for having met mentors like Susan who guided me to understand the unspoken rules and eventually land a work opportunity at Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, where my job perfectly aligns with my personal mission.

I am hoping that ACE—my side hustle—could help solve this mentorship problem by making knowledge sharing accessible to all and be the true champion of every junior woman in finance.

UPDATED NOVEMBER 30, 2020: My team and I cordially invite you to join our ACE community by subscribing to our distribution list and following us on Instagram. You can also sign up to join our next event, “Crafting Your Brand, Discovering and Articulating Your Personal and Professional Self,” on December 3, 2020, 8–9 p.m. ET. The speaker is Keren Ehrenfeld, a managing director and head of healthcare and transportation debt capital markets at Morgan Stanley.

Pictured at top: Angel An, BSBA ’16, on Wall Street.