Author: Kurt Greenbaum


About Kurt Greenbaum

As communications director for the Olin Business School, my job is to find and share great stories about our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. I'm also on the U College faculty in the journalism sequence. My background includes a stint at the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management and as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sun-Sentinel in South Florida and the Chicago Tribune.

The work of building and improving the WashU business school has been rewarded with an uptick in most of our rankings throughout the 2018 ranking season, with rare exception.

Several of the rankings saw substantial increases, including the 18-place jump in the Financial Times‘ global MBA ranking and the nine-place increase in the FT‘s business schools of the Americas ranking. We also saw a substantial increase in The Economists‘ global MBA ranking.

In a few rankings, we saw declines—a clear indication that the work goes on, or that we must keep vigilant in order to stay competitive with peer schools. The Poets & Quants undergraduate ranking, for example, included participation by more competitive schools than we saw in the ranking’s first outing two years ago.

Global Rankings

Ranking 2017 2018 (Change)
Which MBA?
43 37 (+6)
Financial Times
Global MBA
68 50 (+18)
Financial Times
Top MBA for Women
N/A 4 (-)
Financial Times
Executive MBA Shanghai
7 6 (+1)

US Rankings

Ranking 2017 2018 (Change)
Bloomberg Businessweek
Domestic MBA
36 32 (+4)
Bloomberg Businessweek
Global MBA
N/A 37 (-)
Financial Times US
28 23 (+5)
Financial Times Americas
All Programs
17 8 (+9)
Poets & Quants
2 3 (-1)
Princeton Review
7 7 (-)
Princeton Review
22 18 (+4)
TFE Times
Master of Science in Finance
N/A 4 (-)
US News & World Report
21 23 (-2)

Jason Wilson

The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is the first of those vignettes.

Chronicle Coffee opened in north St. Louis City in 2013, sleek with sea-foam walls and civil rights-era photos, adorned with hefty schoolhouse chairs and overstuffed leather sofas.

Jason Wilson, EMBA ’08, spun off the new java joint from his thriving Northwest Coffee Roasting Company, which had stores in affluent neighborhoods in Clayton, Missouri, and St. Louis’ Central West End.

But the corner of Blumeyer and Page avenues in north St. Louis was not an affluent area. It was a community in need of a little TLC, a location where Wilson saw opportunity—but perhaps not the kind of opportunity entrepreneurs typically seek out.

“We wanted to fill this void of a food desert and offer quality products on the north side of St. Louis,” Wilson said. “But the data suggested I should not do that.”

The median income in the area was lower than Wilson was used to serving. Population density was lacking. Foot traffic on the street was sparse. “I had to look at other data points that were more civic minded,” he said. “What else is important?”

He looked at the value of creating a community center in a building that served clients of subsidized housing. He explored the ways Wi-Fi internet would help customers, how community programming might build traffic, how a gathering spot for conversation would enliven the neighborhood.

For a while, Chronicle Coffee looked like it might work. “The folks that buy coffee love the fact that I’m in north St. Louis,” Wilson told a local food magazine at the time. “I’ve also been received pretty well by the immediate community.”

Then, in August 2014, Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. Sales nosedived. Before the year was out, the store failed.

“I took a major hit. In business, revenue minus expenses equals profit. That’s the rule,” Wilson said. “But I wanted to help people out. Am I wrong?”

Leadership decisions, for good

Wilson’s story is emblematic of a growing philosophy of leadership baked into the strategic plan Olin Dean Mark Taylor has rolled out to the business school. Since his arrival at Washington University in December 2016, he has spoken often about creating an academy of leaders who are prepared to make values-based, data- driven decisions. Yes, business is business. ROI is important. But true business leaders understand that the bottom line is not the only gauge of success. Staying true to individual, corporate, and societal values must figure into the equation.

“We want our people to think more broadly about their role,” said Stuart Bunderson, co-director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center and the George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance.

“How can our leaders be maximally responsive to all their stakeholders?” he said. “There is not a small set of values that is important. What’s more important than making a buck? Figure that out and take action based on those values.”

In the end, Wilson’s store failed, but a positive result emerged: His coffee is served at Grounds for Change, the coffee shop in the Brown School of Social Work’s newest building, Hillman Hall. Originally attracted by Wilson’s mission, they were sold on the high-quality coffee and beans. “It’s because I went on the north side and tried to do that.”

Daniel Schindler

Chronic dehydration is a widely reported problem among Americans. We may drink plenty of liquid, but researchers often say it’s the wrong kinds of liquid. Diuretics such as caffeine-rich coffee and soft drinks—or alcohol—cause us to urinate more, rather than retain the water we drink.

Most of the current hydration products are consumed before or after exercise or alcohol consumption, instead of while engaging in these activities and when people need to hydrate most. Daniel Schindler says BetterTomorrow can come to the rescue.

After realizing that he and others were not hydrating effectively, especially when drinking alcohol, exercising, and traveling, Schindler came up with a solution: a flavorless liquid supplement for any drink—including water, coffee, beer, wine, or cocktails—that BetterTomorrow began marketing in May. BetterTomorrow is focused on helping people hydrate when they need it most, as opposed to before or after.

His company developed its formula based on World Health Organization recommendations for rehydration. A few dashes of the BetterTomorrow additive provide consumers with the electrolytes and other supplements needed to better retain water as they take it in.

Work on the company began two years ago, but Schindler credits his past year in Cliff Holekamp’s entrepreneurship classes— including the “Hatchery” course—for helping him hone his business plan, make insightful connections, and develop the business.

That work has yielded a partnership with St. Louis’ Mission Taco Joint, the Austin Beer and Run Club, and other wellness-focused businesses across the United States. Meanwhile, he’s working on getting in front of potential investors to take BetterTomorrow to the next level.

Startup stats

  • Incorporated in March 2017.
  • May 1, 2018: Began serving in partnership with St. Louis-based Mission Taco.
  • Each 40-serving dasher bottle of BetterTomorrow concentrate costs $20.

Team members

  • Daniel Schindler, MBA ’19, CEO/Co-Founder
  • Eddie Zelenak, CMO/Co-Founder
  • Cole Puchi, COO/Co-Founder
  • Lianli Li, Pharmaceutical Expert

Competition participation

  • February 2018: The TigerLaunch Startup Competition in Chicago selected BetterTomorrow as a regional finalist.
  • March 2018: Product demonstration at the Nightclub and Bar trade show in Las Vegas to 10,000 attendees. The team received over 500 interested leads and was selected as one of 12 emerging companies to pitch to influential leaders in Las Vegas’s bar and nightclub industry.
  • Recipient of Holekamp Seed Fund grant.

In the quiet of the holidays, when activity has slowed and we have a moment for reflection, we like to take a look back at the stories on the Olin Blog that had the most traffic during the year. It’s a nice way to see what resonated with readers who came across our stories directly from the blog, through our email newsletters, or on social media.

Highlights ranged from the passing of some beloved individuals in the Olin family to a highly favorable global ranking to some attention-grabbing research by Olin faculty. Here’s the Top 10 list for 2018.

10. Distinguished alumni: Leaders, benefactors, civic activists

Olin’s four distinguished alumni grabbed the No. 10 spot in the countdown for the most-read blog posts in 2018. Alumni recognized this year graduated as far back as 1984 and as recently as 2008, across sectors such as banking, hedge-fund management, entrepreneurship, and business strategy.

9. We’re going big and bold with the new MBA

Dean Mark Taylor launched a monthly blog column called Desk of the Dean in 2018. In this edition, he grabbed national attention with the news that WashU Olin would make a daring move into a reimagined, globally immersive full-time MBA experience. Two weeks after 2019’s new MBA students arrive in late June, all of them will depart for an around-the-world immersion in global business. The summer semester continues with a week at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Then two weeks in Barcelona. Then 17 days in Shanghai.

8. Olin study: Women better survive heart attacks with female docs

New faculty member Seth Carnahan and his research colleagues sent a quake across healthcare media—and general interest news outlets as well—with a study indicating that female heart attack patients have significantly higher survival rates when women doctors treat them in the ER. In fact, in the researchers’ sample, 1,500 fewer women would have died—women who were treated by male doctors—if their survival rate was the same as women treated by female physicians. Media around the globe picked up the story.

7. Alum’s donation launches ‘business of the arts’ minor

In the midst of the mirth and merrymaking at Olin’s second Shakespeare event, Dean Mark Taylor took a moment to recognize distinguished alumnus Rich Ritholtz, BSBA ’84, and his wife Linda, for their $1 million donation that will launch a new business minor, open to any WashU student, at Olin Business School. “Creating a minor in the business of the arts at this time in our history would send a powerful message that Olin is on the move, preparing our students to think critically and act boldly to meet the challenges of 21st century business,” Taylor said.

6. Funny side, hard edge: Your boss’s behavior matters

Olin postdoc Zhenyu Liao was part of a research team that examined the benefits of a sense of humor among corporate leaders and concluded that a jokester in the big chair can be a mixed blessing.

5. Jon Flaxman: HP executive, Olin benefactor

The surprise passing of HP Inc.’s COO in March stunned the Olin community. It had come just months after he had welcomed a group of WashU students touring Silicon Valley on a career trek to tech-related companies. The National Council member had given richly to Olin — and not just financially. Students and faculty spokes of his mentorship. Since his death, HP established an endowed scholarship in the name of Jon and his widow Lauri. The $1 million gift increased 10 percent with additional donations from family and HP colleagues.

4. New faculty: Olin’s newest instructors and researchers

Not surprisingly, the roll-call of new faculty pierced the Top 10 for the second year in a row as Olin brought in a bumper crop of new instructors in the past 12 months.

3. Koch Family endows Family Business Center, 2 professorships

Two brothers, two spouses, and five WashU degrees between them. St. Louis’s Koch brothers, Paul and Roger, along with their wives, Elke and Fran, donated $12 million to Washington University — $9 million of which toward a research center dedicated to family businesses and a chaired professorship in family business. “There’s a lack of perception about how many family businesses there are and what role they play,” Paul Koch said, following the announcement. “There’s also a lack of perception about the complexities of family businesses.”

2. FT: Olin 4th globally among MBA programs for women

A new ranking from the Financial Times lauded schools for their commitment to programs that serve women, placing WashU Olin behind programs at Stanford and UC Berkeley and just ahead of Harvard’s.

1. Nicholas Dopuch, 88: Transformational figure for Olin, accounting research

A stalwart figure among the Olin faculty for many years, Professor Dopuch’s passing affected innumerable students, alumni, administrators, and current faculty. It’s worth noting the numerous comments posted in tribute on this blog post, from all over the world, some posted as recently as a few weeks ago.

What will make headlines from Olin in 2019? Don’t wait to find out: Follow us in real time on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn (and of course, submit to the Olin Blog). See you next year!

In Bloomberg Businessweek’s first joint ranking of global MBA programs, WashU Olin placed 37th among the world’s full-time, two-year programs. WashU’s MBA had previously ranked 32nd in the publication’s ranking of US-based programs—up four spots from our 2017 ranking.

The publication’s US ranking was released November 8. Bloomberg Businessweek’s new global ranking—released late St. Louis time on December 10—combined for the first time its previously separate rankings of US and international programs.

In addition to survey results from schools, students, alumni, and corporate recruiters, the publication relied on five new assessment criteria to evaluate the full-time MBA programs: income, learning, networking, diversity, and transformation.

Olin’s strong placement among global programs in compensation—where the school placed 28—helped drive the 37th-place ranking in the overall global list.

Bloomberg will continue to publish its US-only ranking. Here is a rundown of other recent ranking results for WashU Olin Business School.

  • On December 2, the Financial Times ranked WashU Olin eighth—a jump of nine spots—in its list of top b-schools of the Americas, a composite of its postgraduate rankings for full-time MBA, Executive MBA, and executive education programs.
  • In early November, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked WashU Olin’s full-time MBA 32nd in the country, up four places from the previous year.
  • The Financial Times global MBA ranking in March, in which WashU Olin jumped 18 places, landing the school in the world’s top 50.
  • In the FT’s global ranking of executive MBA programs last month, our Shanghai Executive MBA moved up to sixth in the world.
  • In November’s ranking of entrepreneurship programs by the Princeton Review, WashU held firm on its No. 7 ranking for undergraduate programs and moved up four spots to rank No. 18 in the graduate program ranking.
  • The Economist’s 2018 global ranking of MBA programs, also in October, placed WashU Olin 37th in the world, up six places from the previous year.
  • Poets & Quants’ undergraduate ranking in 2017 had WashU Olin placed in the top two in the nation along with Wharton.
  • The TFE Times master of science in finance rankings placed WashU Olin fourth in the United States in 2018.
  • The debut Times Higher Education ranking released December 6 put WashU Olin’s full-time MBA at No. 20 and our master of science in finance at four (requires paid account).