Author: Jill Young Miller


About Jill Young Miller

As research translator for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to highlight professors’ research by “translating” their work into stories. Before coming to Olin, I was a communications specialist at WashU’s Brown School. My background is mostly in newspapers including as a journalist for Missouri Lawyers Media, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Washington Post and the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida. Also, I am the reigning Olin Cornhole Champion.

Five Olin students are featured in “Real Humans of MBA Students: Washington University Olin MBA Class of 2023” on the Clear Admit website.

They are Brendan Barry, Allison Wise, Adesola John-Ladega, Maria Alejandra Espitia and Ishmael Kodjoe.

Barry, of St. Louis, served six years in the U.S. Marines before he joined Olin. “I think my experience in the military brings a lot of value to my class. I led a lot of teams and had exposure to high-stress situations,” he told Clear Admit. “I learned to develop a sense of calmness that I think most of my classmates appreciate, especially during group projects.”

Wise, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, previously worked in the aviation industry. “I worked on the military side of the company,” she said. When COVID hit, “we didn’t get as affected as the commercial side, but I saw an entire business change before my eyes in a matter of months. It really frightened me for a while, but it taught me how to be lean, resilient, and how to take the punches as they come.”

John-Ladega, of Lagos, Nigeria, came to Olin because “I was looking to get more international experience, particularly in investment banking. In 2020, as the pandemic struck, I had the opportunity to reflect on my professional journey as I left the physical workspace to a remote environment. I decided to move my career to the global stage just about the time when various economies of the world were opening up and the campaign for diversity and inclusion became much more prominent.”

Espitia, of Monteria, Colombia, sought “a close-knit community to develop strong relationships with classmates and professors while having a more personalized education, and Olin met the criteria. Its class size has allowed me to create personal connections with all my classmates and professors, which have enriched my knowledge and perspective.”  

Kodjoe, of Accra, Ghana, told Clear Admit: “The small class size at Olin is excellent for building lasting relationships with colleagues. The focus on global business education exposes you to the dynamics of international business. Factors that figured prominently–class size, financial aid and faculty.”

Learn more about these students, why they chose Olin and what they learned through admissions.

Top row, from left: Maria Alejandra Espitia, Adesola John-Ladega, Ishmael Kodjoe. Bottom row: Allison Wise, Brendan Barry.

Considering a career change? The Weston Career Center is offering working professionals and alumni a comprehensive Virtual Career Boot Camp this spring to assist with navigating career opportunities and transitions. 

The bi-weekly, eight-session series is designed to enhance fundamental career development and transition skills. Course leaders will provide content at each session. In addition, the sessions will be interactive and provide an opportunity for participants to share and ask questions, as well as get to know other EMBAs, PMBAs and Olin alums. 

You can sign up for the entire series or for individual sessions, depending on your interest.  The series runs from 6-7:30 p.m. every other Wednesday from January 19 through April 27. When you register, you’ll get a follow-up email to select the sessions you plan to attend. If you plan to attend the entire series, select all sessions. 

  • January 19: Taking Charge of Your Career—Learn to set career priorities and objectives, along with the importance of attitude, preparation and giving throughout your career.
  • February 2: Defining Your Personal Brand—Know who you are, your value proposition and how to differentiate yourself.
  • February 16: Communicating Your Brand—Create effective marketing messages and materials including a resume, one-pagers and other visuals.
  • March 2: Leveraging Social Media­—This session focuses on the power of social media, particularly LinkedIn, in communicating your brand. Learn how to be found by recruiters and hiring managers, expand your network and applying for open positions. 
  • March 16: Creating Your Career Campaign—Establish your career/transition strategy and plan, including the use of resources, how to prioritize your efforts and how to stay organized.
  • March 30: Building Professional Relationships—Strategies and approaches to build and expand your relationships over time.
  • April 13: Acing the Interview—Preparing for and excelling at job interviews, and improving your chances of getting an offer. 
  • April 27: Negotiating the Offer—Negotiating an offer that works for you and is consistent with your value, ultimately improving your compensation over your career.

Sign up here.

Cost: Free.

WCC career coaches Mary Houlihan, Don Halpin, Anne Petersen and Molly Thompson will lead the sessions.

To maintain the confidentiality of attendees, the sessions will not be recorded. The WCC will provide PowerPoint slides after each session. 

Please contact  with questions.

Another year has passed for the Olin Blog. Now that the students have left and the pace is slowing, it’s time for our annual look back at our top stories.

The most-read story was about someone from our community, an alumnus, who died in an avalanche. The other popular stories were of happier news: Olin’s full-time MBA broke into the Top 25 in the Financial Times ranking, we honored our distinguished alumni, the school earned triple accreditation and a beloved career coach retired.

Here are the Top 8 Olin Blog stories published in 2021:

Olin alumnus Matthew Nyman dies in Alaska avalanche

Nyman, 43, was an Army veteran, wounded warrior, government innovator and 2017 Olin EMBA.

Olin’s full-time MBA breaks into the top 25 in new Financial Times ranking

This was Olin’s best-ever showing in the international ranking and a substantial increase from its 2020 ranking.

2021 Olin Distinguished Alumni to be honored

Those Olin honored share the characteristics of leadership: progressive thinking, high standards, uncompromising integrity, commitment, courage and confidence. 

Olin entrepreneurship chief sells company he co-founded in 2007 for $30M

Second Street gives publishers and other clients the capacity to provide contests, interactive content and emails to grow revenue, database and engagement. 

Accomplished: Triple accreditation affirms Olin’s commitment to excellence

Among 13,000 business schools globally, only about 100 have earned accreditation from all three bodies.

VanOudenallen, career coach to 1,000+ EMBAS, retires

Olin’s director of executive career development retired to spend more time with his 15 grandchildren and to travel.

Welcome new faculty for the 2021-2022 academic year

Twenty-one new instructors and researchers joined Olin in accounting, data analytics, economics, finance, operations, organizational behavior and strategy.

#1 again! Olin’s MBA entrepreneurship program tops P&Q ranking in 3rd year

“I am beyond gratified—but not surprised—to learn that WashU Olin’s MBA entrepreneurship program has again topped the Poets & Quants ranking,” said Dean Mark P. Taylor.

The winning team of the seventh annual PepsiCo MBA Invitational Business Case Competition included Tyler Whiteman, MBA ’23.

Whiteman is a first-year student who had spent most of the past decade in musical theater as an actor, singer and dancer out of New York City. Then COVID hit.


“In a matter of days, I watched as the virus devastated my industry,” the St. Louis native said. “After repeated calls from my agent delivering unfortunate news of all my jobs being canceled, I decided to hit the drawing board: I knew if there was ever a time to make a massive switch in my life, this was it.”

On October 14, he was among MBA students from 16 universities who were randomly assigned to nine mixed teams of four from different schools. PepsiCo gave them the case the next morning.

“Being a rather large career-switcher, I won’t pretend that I wasn’t somewhat intimidated by the other top MBA programs represented among the competing teams,” he said. Those programs, among others, included Columbia, Cornell, Harvard and Yale.

The teams brainstormed, crunched numbers and refined their ideas for nine hours throughout the day that Friday. That Saturday, they presented solutions to PepsiCo senior executives and talent acquisition team members.

Texas Christian University’s MBA program and the Neeley School of Business presented the virtual competition. First place of $7,000 was awarded to the team of Whiteman, Brent Schlagel (SMU, Cox School of Business), Adriann Dolphin (Harvard University, Harvard Business School) and Mayank Mehra (TCU, Neeley School of Business).

We asked Whiteman about his experience.

What was the most challenging aspect of the competition?

“The case competition was completely virtual, which presents a productivity and fatigue challenge in a time-crunch setting like this. Fortunately, my teammates and I have had plenty of practice Zooming in our respective MBA journeys thus far.

“I felt this challenge the most when it came time to present our final recommendation to the PepsiCo executives. The performer in me craves the in-person audience and live energy that simply cannot be replicated through a computer screen. That’s all the more reason my teammates and I sought to really bring that energy to one another throughout our presentation, even though we were stationed in different parts of the country.”

You had to learn to work with others very quickly. Did you learn anything from that experience?

“Yes! I virtually met my teammates for the first time the evening before the case was distributed. The next morning, we hit the ground running. (The case was emailed to everyone at 9:30 a.m. with a final slide deck submission deadline at 6 p.m. that evening.)

“My team really capitalized on that time given to us before the case was received. For about an hour, or so, the four of us connected, honed in on individual skill sets and strategized our approach for the next morning.

“Takeaways from this experience center on the importance of building that foundation of ‘team’ and expectations before diving into the work. We weren’t given a lot of time to do this, but I would say what we did with that time was extremely productive and heavily contributed to our success the next day.”

How did your Olin experience prepare you for the competition? 

“Being a rather large career-switcher, I won’t pretend that I wasn’t somewhat intimidated by the other top MBA programs represented among the competing teams. That being said, it is quite exciting to see the progress I have made in just a short amount of time, here at Olin. A little shy of 190 days since beginning the full-time MBA program, I attribute much of my performance at the PepsiCo case competition (and overall success) to my Olin family of professors, coaches, peers and alumni.”

What distinguished the winning team from the other teams’ efforts? Can you tell us about the case?

“The case revolved around innovation, branding and go-to-market strategies. There were two innovative products—a Mountain Dew beverage and a Doritos snack—about to be launched individually to market. We were tasked with the objective to convince the board why these products should, instead, be released synergistically as a bundle through both point-of-sales and marketing efforts, rather than through two separate campaigns.

“Our recommendation included a financial assessment and break-even analysis of the product bundle, a created branding campaign titled: D2 CREATE YOUR MIX, and finally a strategy to implement the branding and merchandizing recommendation over the proposed four-quarter timeline—all in about nine hours. Though I wasn’t able to see presentations from other competing teams, I would say the judging panel seemed to be most impressed with my team’s ability to work so strongly and seamlessly with one another in such a truncated timeframe. It is always fun to get the wheels of top decision-makers at a top firm turning; I believe our team did just that.” 

Olin graduate Ming Xu, MBA’08, has received the Mark S. Wrighton Award from the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

Xu is the director of Global Category Management at Emerson Systems and Solutions. She manages more than $200M across electrical, mechanical, computing and software categories for the company’s control system platforms.

She is an alumna of McDonnell partner Tsinghua University in Beijing and decided to pursue her MBA after she moved to St. Louis. Xu started her career at Emerson the same year she graduated, and over the past 13 years has held positions in analytics, logistics, strategic planning and sourcing, and category management across supply chain functions, according to the McDonnell website. Today Xu is an influential global supply chain leader.

Watch her interview with Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor of international affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership.