Author: Kiva Runnels

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About Kiva Runnels

Kiva is a WashU student studying comparative literature and French. She has worked as a production intern with the School of Arts & Sciences' podcast Hold That Thought and is a member of various media clubs on campus, including Storyscope, KWUR and WUTV. Kiva loves telling meaningful stories through writing, visual media and podcasts. Outside of school and work, you can find her on long walks in the neighborhood with her friends, listening to music, or re-watching her favorite TV shows.


When Dr. Jeffery Davis, an emergency room doctor at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and 2017 Olin MBA alum, went on vacation with his family to sunny San Diego, he expected a break from the chaos of the ER. Instead, he spent his last day saving the life of a young man in the harbor whose leg was nearly amputated by a boat propellor.

On March 26, Dr. Davis and his family boarded a whale-watching boat at the San Diego harbor. They had a great trip, sighting a whale and a pod of dolphins. On the way back into the harbor, though, the boat captain noticed something concerning: a nearby vessel had thrown three people from the boat, and the third passenger being pulled back onto the boat had a severe leg wound. His leg had been nearly amputated at the knee, severing a major artery.

Faced with this gruesome scene, Dr. Davis’ medical instincts and level headedness kicked in. He jumped onto the boat and used his belt to create a makeshift tourniquet for the young man’s leg. The bleeding slowed, allowing time for the boat to dock and the young man to be loaded into an ambulance.

After nearly 20 years of experience in emergency medicine, Davis explained to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, that this kind of quick response is “hard-wired into you” and part of “who you are.”

After the incident, Dr. Davis and his family spent the rest of their last day decompressing and letting his three daughters to process what had happened. Then, they returned home to St. Louis, where Dr. Davis continues to treat severe injuries at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as an emergency room doctor.




Family-owned M-D Building Products Inc. has named a new president. The Oklahoma-based company develops, manufactures and markets a range of residential and commercial weatherization, flooring, caulking and specialty extrusion products.

Following its centennial anniversary, the company appointed Ryan Plotkin, MBA ’16, who plans to “take M-D to the next level” under his leadership by fostering innovation and efficiency, according to the company’s press release. As president, Plotkin will “lead operational growth plans surrounding the consumer products, specified extrusion manufacturing and professional flooring divisions.”

In the release, the company’s board indicated that it enthusiastically supported Plotkin’s appointment, citing his focus, energy and commitment to driving progress within the company.

Plotkin held the position of chief operating officer after his graduation from Olin’s MBA program. He has been with M-D Building Products since the company hired him as a global business manager in 2008.




Olin’s 2020 EMBA program consisted of 87 students, all of whom continued or finished the program as the country shut down due to a global pandemic. Luckily, the EMBA program responded quickly and effectively to the newly-virtual and distanced educational experience. From virtual graduation ceremonies to hybrid classrooms, here’s how Olin EMBA students responded to the pandemic, by the numbers:

1

day to redirect travel and set up EMBA 55 on-campus DC residency after Washington University suspends travel on March 9

2

virtual graduation watch parties, along with celebration kits sent out to grads

2

cohorts—54 and 55 hybrid global residency

4

months—EMBA hybrid classrooms at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Clayton

6

months with virtual-only classes

6

conversations over cocktails with Olin experts, attended by 400 alumni and students

36

SimNet online Excel courses

120

lunches delivered to student homes in March and April

234

boxes packed and delivered to FedEx and DHL containing books and course packs

265

“mobile break station” packages delivered to student homes between May and December

We congratulate the EMBA program for their resilience and efficiency during this challenging time.




Wade Miquelon, MBA

Shares of JOANN Inc. jumped nearly 5% on their first day of trading after the arts and crafts retailer raised $130.8 million in an initial public offering. The fabric and craft retailer is led by CEO Wade Miquelon, MBA ’89.

The company is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol JOAN. It announced its intention to go public in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on February 16.

Although the company suffered from declining revenues before the pandemic, a rise in at-home crafting and sewing has prompted a 38% growth in sales since May 2020.

Miquelon told Forbes magazine that the pandemic is not the only contributor to the spike in sales. He said the company has been able to play into “solid trends” of “more do-it-yourself, a lot more personalization, and major movements on market exchanges like Etsy and Shopify” that have been building over the past few years.

He also mentioned JOANN’s success in offering curbside pickup, supporting its online purchase options. According to Marketwatch, the company announced IPO terms on March 4, indicating its plan to offer 10.9 million shares at between $15 and $17 a share.

Although JOANN’s recent growth has been impressive, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business, the question for potential investors could be whether Joann can can successfully convert growth to net income, whether the market will keep growing, and whether the company will continue to drive down its debt.

However, JOANN’s transition into public offering is an opportunity for investors to gain a foothold in the craft and sewing market. Hopefully, consumers and investors alike will be able to capitalize on the recent rise in sales for JOANN, and enjoy reconnecting with at-home projects like sewing and crafting during this isolated time.

The company had 855 retail locations as of January 30 and a database of more than 69 million customers.

Pictured above: Wade Miquelon, MBA ’89.




A new WashU course, Innovation for Defense, will give students a chance to define and solve problems facing the US intelligence community starting in spring.

An inter-disciplinary entrepreneurial course, Innovation for Defense is open to students from McKelvey School of Engineering and Olin Business School. The class (consisting of roughly 10 Olin students and 10 McKelvey students) is co-taught by Doug Villhard, professor of practice in entrepreneurship at Olin, and Peggy Matson, professor of practice, Sever Institute, McKelvey. The course brings together people from the Olin business community and the McKelvey School of Engineering.

Exploring current problems—like moving people and supplies through checkpoints in a secure way, helping pilots quickly acclimate to a variety of aircraft and reducing technology downtime by using IT data to create proactive solutions—will be a driving force behind the student’s learning.

Each class problem has a dedicated sponsor from the Department of Defense who will be regularly engaged with the team. Student teams will learn to use the Lean Startup methodology and Mission Model Canvas, made famous by Stanford University, to iteratively cut through the complexities of these issues.  

The Innovating for Defense course is building on the partnership with the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN), and includes the recently awarded National Security Academic Accelerator grant which seeks to launch new ‘dual-use ventures’ from the University’s existing intellectual property.

Jake Laktas, university program director at WashU, representing NSIN says, “This course’s model is unique because it can be an equally valuable learning experience for DoD partners as it is for the students. University problem solvers who are unencumbered by existing thought processes can lend brand new approaches and unique contributions to our nation’s most difficult technology and security challenges.”

It is interesting to note that a student does not have to be a citizen of the United States to take this course and none of the DoD problems are confidential.

“None of these business problems are classified. It is not innovating for war, or something secret; it is innovating for large organizations. It will teach students what the DoD is, how to interact with it, how to support it, and how to ultimately support the economy,” Villhard said. “It’s almost like a mirror of the commercial market when you consider how many different things there are to do within the DoD.”

The course was created to introduce entrepreneurial thinking to students and introduce the concept of interdisciplinary teams. These students will gain hands-on experience that can be useful in any work situation in the future and will look excellent on their resumes. It teaches how to seek out problems, find solutions, and consider monetization.

Find the original post on the Innovation for Defense class, from the Skandalaris Center, here.

Above: Credit, Shutterstock.