Author: Kurt Greenbaum

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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.


Under skies sparkling of blue and shining with golden sunlight, more than 200 BSBAs and more than 500 graduate students celebrated their commencement from WashU Olin Business School.

“I want to remind you that while you’re going away, you’re not going far,” Dean Mark P. Taylor reminded the graduates during Friday’s recognition ceremonies. “With your graduation, you expand your global network to include nearly 30,000 Olin alumni.”

The two ceremonies—morning for BSBAs and afternoon for MBAs, SMPs and PMBAs—followed the WashU main campus graduation featuring Chancellor Mark Wrighton at his last commencement and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as the keynote speaker, who called on WashU graduates to “reclaim our civic dialogue.”

The ceremonies recognized professors with teaching awards and students with a variety of special recognitions (see below). Both ceremonies featured keynote speakers from among Olin’s alumni ranks.

“I have been on a journey since my Olin BSBA journey,” said Atima Lui, founder and CEO of Nudest and a 2012 graduate. “When I was in your shoes seven years ago, I thought success meant I had to look a certain way, make a certain amount of money. I thought success was a zero sum game.

“The most successful version of you is the real you,” she continued. “Seriously. The you with all your quirks and imperfections, the you that defines yourself by your own standards. The you that experiences fear and anxiety, yet bravely moves forward toward your goals.”

Lori Lee, who earned her BSBA and MBA back-to-back in 1988 and 1989, spoke to the graduate students about the vital need to embrace change throughout their careers. As an Olin graduate, she fully expected to spend her career working in accounting, where she started. Little did she expect the path that led her to become CEO for AT&T Latin America and AT&T’s global marketing officer.

“My journey took unexpected turns,” said Lee, who was named an Olin Distinguished Alumna in 2016. “They were twisted and winding and full of surprises. They weren’t easy, but they made me better.”

The two students speakers—one at each ceremony, selected by their peers—focused on the contacts they made and the environment of teamwork and opportunity Olin fostered throughout their time.

“Failure is hard, failure does not feel good, but failure is not permanent,” said Matt Savage, BSBA ’19. “Olin provided a safe place to fail, only on a bigger stage. We most certainly will continue to fail and fail often. But that doesn’t mean you’re a failure as a student, an employee or as a friend. It was only after I faced my failures that I realized you don’t actually learn anything from failing, but by picking yourself up and facing your challenges.”

“I put off getting my MBA for a really long time,” said Ariel Washington, MBA ’19. “But it turns out I got it at the exact time, at the exact place and with the exactly right people I should have gotten it with. I could not be more proud of us and I could not be more proud to be a member of this class.”

Undergraduate Honors and Awards

Jeffrey Ethan Bail                             Delta Sigma Pi Scholarship Key

                                                            Awarded to the graduate with the highest academic average. The award is given by Delta Sigma Pi, America’s foremost professional fraternity for men and women pursuing careers in business.

Ryan Cole Beyer                               Undergraduate Marketing Award

                                                            Awarded by the faculty to a graduate for outstanding achievement in the field of marketing.

Lauren Elizabeth Dumas                 Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

                                                            Joseph W. Towle Prize

                                                            Awarded to the graduate with the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the area of organizational leadership. This award is named in honor of Joseph W. Towle, who was a tenured Olin management professor from 1954 to 1975 and a leader among faculty. Well known in his field, an author and president of the Academy of Management, he established this prize to encourage excellence in the classroom.

                                                            Loeb Prize in Leadership

                                                            Awarded to a graduate who has shown leadership in undergraduate activities related to Olin Business School and who maintains excellence in scholastic achievement, as judged by his or her classmates. This award is named in honor of Isidor Loeb, who was dean of Washington University’s School of Business and Public Administration (now known as Olin Business School) from 1925 to 1940.

Clebert Gleaton Etheredge              Powell Niland Prize

                                                            Awarded to the graduate with the strongest academic achievement in the areas of operations and manufacturing management. This award is named in honor of Powell Niland, who was a tenured Olin operations and manufacturing management professor from 1957 to 1989 and an Olin professor emeritus from 1989 until 2009.

Emma Rose Greenwood                   John W. Bowyer Award in Finance

                                                            Awarded to the graduate who is considered to have the greatest potential for success in a career in finance, as judged by the finance faculty. The award is named in honor of the late John W. Bowyer, who was a legendary teacher of finance at Olin from 1951 to 1987.

Michael Alan Kaushansky               Kay Roh Memorial Award

                                                            Awarded to a graduate in recognition of his or her contributions to Washington University and/or the St. Louis community through extracurricular or volunteer activities, as judged by his or her classmates. Named to honor Kay Roh, who was awarded her BSBA posthumously in 1991, the award is made possible through the generosity of her parents, Min and Jae Roh, and grandparents, Ginger and Jack Woods.

Bryan Hao-Jie Lee                            Arthur M. Seltzer Accounting Award

                                                            Awarded to recognize an outstanding senior in the area of accounting. Established by Richard Wise, JD ’83, to honor his mentor, Arthur M. Seltzer, BSBA ’62, a successful accountant and financial adviser in St. Louis.

Heidi Andria Nassos                         Outstanding Student Athlete Award

                                                            Awarded to a graduate who exhibits strong leadership ability and sportsmanlike conduct.

Elizabeth Brooke Smith                   Taylor Outstanding Service Award

                                                            Awarded to graduate(s) who delivered the highest level of impact to the St. Louis local nonprofit community through the Center for Experiential Learning’s Taylor Community Consulting program. Awardees distinguished themselves with exceptional effort and leadership that resulted in demonstrated advancement of the mission and objectives of the organizations and communities with whom they engaged.

Madison Leigh Stoecker                   International Business Student Award

                                                            Awarded to the graduate who shows the greatest potential for a career in international business.

                                                            Loeb Prize in Leadership

                                                            Awarded to a graduate who has shown leadership in undergraduate activities related to Olin Business School and who maintains excellence in scholastic achievement, as judged by his or her classmates. This award is named in honor of Isidor Loeb, who was dean of Washington University’s School of Business and Public Administration (now known as Olin Business School) from 1925 to 1940.

Graduate Programs Honors and Awards

Camden Guilford Civello                 Center for Experiential Learning Impact Award

Recognizes graduating students who have delivered the highest level of impact to the business and nonprofit communities through The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and other Olin-sponsored experiential programs and activities. Awardees distinguished themselves with exceptional effort and leadership that advanced the missions and objectives of the organizations and individuals with which they engaged.

Janell Andrea Cleare                        Paul Cuffe MBA Award for Outstanding Leadership

                                                            Awarded to a graduating African-American MBA student for outstanding leadership, academic excellence and involvement in Olin extracurricular activities. This award is named in honor of Paul Cuffe, who was one of the most financially successful black Americans at the end of the 18th century. A builder and maritime merchant in New England, Cuffe became a successful blockade runner during the Revolutionary War and an entrepreneur during the early years of American independence.

Katherine Hooper DeWulf              Peer Recognition Award

                                                            Awarded to the graduating Professional MBA student who, in the opinion of his or her fellow students, best exemplifies the qualities of character, leadership and service and also enjoys the respect, admiration and affection of his or her classmates.

Gheremey Delan Edwards               Milford Bohm Prize in Marketing

                                                            Awarded to the graduating MBA student who, in the judgment of the faculty, exhibits the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the field of marketing. This award was established in honor of Milford Bohm―founder, chairman and CEO of CPI (formerly Rembrandt Studio) from 1942 to 1973―by his wife, Lee Bohm, and their children, Mimi (MBA ’79), David (LA ’78/JD ’84), Rob (MBA ’90) and the late Vicki (EN ’84/SI ’85).

Theodore Ross Farrell                      Powell Niland Prize

                                                            Awarded to the graduating MBA student with the strongest academic achievement in the areas of operations and manufacturing management. This award is named in honor of Powell Niland, who was a tenured Olin operations and manufacturing management professor from 1957 to 1989 and an Olin professor emeritus from 1989 until 2009.

Tyler D. Hadzinsky                           Professional Achievement Award

                                                            Awarded to the graduating Professional MBA student who best exemplifies the qualities of integrity, loyalty, intelligence and high moral character as judged by the faculty.

Elizabeth Bunn Hailand                   John Wayne Latchum Memorial Award

                                                            Recognizes the graduating MBA student who best exemplifies the qualities of integrity, loyalty to friends and country, courage intelligence and high standards of personal conduct as judged by the faculty. This award is named in memory of John Wayne Latchum, a business student who died in 1971 while he was a senior at Washington University. It is made possible through the generosity of his parents.

Elisa M. Hastings                              Center for Experiential Learning Impact Award

Recognizes graduating students who have delivered the highest level of impact to the business and nonprofit communities through The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and other Olin-sponsored experiential programs and activities. Awardees distinguished themselves with exceptional effort and leadership that advanced the missions and objectives of the organizations and individuals with which they engaged.

Angela Lu                                          Hubert C. Moog Prize

                                                            Awarded to the graduating MBA student who, in the opinion of his or her fellow students, best exemplifies the qualities of character, leadership and service and also enjoys the respect, admiration and affection of his or her classmates. This award is named in honor of Hub Moog, who as chairman and president of Moog Automotive, transformed his family’s St. Louis-based business into a world-renowned corporation. He served on the Washington University Board of Trustees and the Olin Task Force in 1980 and 1981. He and his wife, Dorothy R. Moog, were strong supporters of Washington University.

Sharon Kapembwa Mazimba          Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

Onyekwere Chinedu Mgbeahurike Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

Leah Marie Nesbitt                           Hiram and Mary Neuwoehner Prize

                                                            Awarded by the faculty to the graduating Professional MBA student who has been the most substantive addition to the evening program through contributions in the classroom and excellence in writing papers and taking examinations. This award was established by Mary Neuwoehner in the 1990s to honor her husband, Hiram Neuwoehner, BSBA ’41, a St. Louis advertising executive and founder of Batz-Hodgson-Neuwoehner Inc.

Ubaka Edward Ogbunude               Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

Eric Twabe Ontieri                           Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

Samuel Martin Roth                         Milford Bohm Prize in Marketing

                                                            Awarded to the graduating MBA student who, in the judgment of the faculty, exhibits the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the field of marketing. This award was established in honor of Milford Bohm―founder, chairman and CEO of CPI (formerly Rembrandt Studio) from 1942 to 1973―by his wife, Lee Bohm, and their children, Mimi (MBA ’79), David (LA ’78/JD ’84), Rob (MBA ’90) and the late Vicki (EN ’84/SI ’85).

Thomas Ripley Sanford Smith        Joseph W. Towle Prize

                                                            Awarded to the graduating MBA student who, in the judgment of the faculty, exhibits the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the area of organizational leadership. This award is named in honor of Joseph W. Towle, who was a tenured Olin management professor from 1954 to 1975 and a leader among faculty. Well-known in his field, an author and president of the Academy of Management, he established this prize to encourage excellence in the classroom.

Modupeola Thomas                          Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

Chioma Sussan Ukeje                       Dean’s Special Service Award

                                                            Awarded by the dean to recognize MBA students who have rendered extraordinary service to Olin.

John Christopher Weibel                 Olin MBA Finance Award

                                                            Awarded to a graduating MBA student for achievement in finance.

Zhou Yu                                             Outstanding Finance–Corporate Student Award

                                                            Awarded to the graduating Master of Science in Finance student who, in the judgment of the faculty, exhibits the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the field of finance.

Wenyu Zhang                                    Outstanding Finance–Wealth and Asset Management Student Award

                                                            Awarded to the graduating Master of Science in Finance Wealth and Asset Management student who, in the judgment of the faculty, exhibits the strongest academic achievement and the most potential in the field of wealth and asset management.




Ranjeet Ahluwalia

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 one of those vignettes.

The silence on the conference call was deafening. Seven years ago, when Ranjeet Ahluwalia, MBA ’05, was a healthcare advertising agency strategist, the team dialed in with notable physician thought leaders seeking to sell an Alzheimer’s treatment. Ahluwalia’s agency hoped to score a contract worth as much as $20 million.

Before the call, the agency pored through data about the drug, seeking information they could use to make a compelling case for the new medication. Somehow, for Ahluwalia, now founder and lead sparker at Silbospark, the clinical data just wasn’t adding up.

On the conference call, he asked a physician expert to help him “find the story” in the data that would help sell the drug. That prompted an independent pharmaceutical expert on the call to ask, “Based on what you see here, would you give this drug to your mother?”

Silence.

Ahluwalia’s firm didn’t get the contract. In fact, the drug never went to market.

“Ultimately, we had to decide whether to tell them what they wanted to hear or what they needed to hear,” Ahluwalia said. “We told them what they needed to hear—and we didn’t win the business.”




Machine translations driven by artificial intelligence can ease the friction and increase international trade, according to a study from two Olin professors.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence have exploded onto the scene in recent years, offering the hope of greater business efficiency. At the same time, researchers have found virtually no empirical evidence supporting the promised strides in labor productivity and economic activity.

That is, until now.

Meng Liu

A forthcoming paper from WashU Olin researchers draws a direct connection between language translation driven by artificial intelligence and an increase in international trade. The paper, which analyzes data from online e-commerce site eBay, is among the earliest tangible signs that AI and machine learning are living up to their promise.

“There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that AI has exceeded humans in many areas, but there was not much causal empirical evidence,” said Meng Liu, visiting assistant professor of marketing. She notes that there is evidence that AI correlates with economic growth. “There seems to be a discrepancy between what our intuition says about AI versus what is actually observed.”

For example, aggregate productivity growth rates have been stagnating since the 2000s.

Xiang Hui

Liu and coauthor Xiang Hui, assistant professor of marketing at Olin, cited 2017 research from MIT and the University of Chicago highlighting the paradox between high expectations and modest productivity results for artificial intelligence. That paper, accounting for slower economic activity, cited stagnant or declining numbers for productivity and median income while the new technology burst on the scene.

“Pointing to aggregate growth statistics, AI pessimists say it’s not really helping our productivity,” Hui added. “The problem is that it normally takes time for organizations to ramp up complementary innovations, be it organizational or technological, to harvest AI’s benefits. This is where our paper comes in. Let’s look at the question in a friction-free platform where they use an AI-based translation system.”

Their paper, “Does Machine Translation Affect International Trade? Evidence from a Large Digital Platform,” was accepted in April for publication in the journal Management Science. Using data from eBay, which managed more than $14 billion in trade across more than 200 countries in 2014, Hui and Liu demonstrated that a moderate improvement in the quality of language translation increased trade between countries on eBay about 10.9%.

The paper contrasted trading results between buyers and sellers in the United States against those in countries that do not primarily speak English, including countries in Latin America, Europe and Asia. They looked at trade before and after eBay implemented a new AI-driven machine translation service in 2014. By some measures, that service improved translation quality by about 10%.

The researchers also compared their results to a measure of trade cost Hui had explored in earlier research. As distances decrease between trading partners on eBay, the cost of trade drops. “What we show is that the introduction of machine translation is equivalent to reducing distances between countries by 26.1%.”

The research team took two approaches to analyzing the trade data. First, they contrasted US exports to countries where the advanced translation was available against those where it was not. The graph above shows results after the technology was introduced—and the visible increase in US exports to countries where it was available.

Next, the research team mitigated the effect of other factors that could have increased trade (more marketing, for example) by examining how machine translation affected longer versus shorter product titles. The theory was that translating longer titles required greater cost and effort, but would yield greater payoff—meaning the benefit of introducing machine translation should be higher for these items. Meanwhile, if eBay increased marketing, it would affect longer titles similarly to shorter ones. However, the graph below shows the greater effect on longer product titles.

“These comparisons suggest that the trade-hindering effect of language barriers is of first-order importance,” the researchers wrote. “Improved machine translation has made the eBay world significantly more connected.”

The authors noted that since their research was completed, Google has rolled out an even more powerful language translation tool “that has significantly improved translation quality” and, based on their research, “the effect (of Google’s software) on cross-border trade could be large.”

The authors argue that the introduction of machine translation on eBay provides a clean experiment where we can measure impacts. But ultimately, AI’s effect will like be seen in almost all economic sectors. As new systems come online, the authors wrote, “they will provide new opportunities to assess the economic impact of AI via natural experiments such as the one examined in this paper.”




Seth Carnahan

Seth Carnahan, Olin associate professor of strategy, has been recognized with the biennial “emerging scholar” award by the strategic management division of the Academy of Management, the professional association for management and organization scholars.

The STR Emerging Scholar Award “will be a promising scholar who has established a research record of exceptional quality. The recipient will have a solid publication record and his/her scholarly contributions will already demonstrate an impact on the field of strategic management.” Only researchers who have received their terminal degree within six years of the award date are eligible.

“Seth’s publication record displays his open-mindedness, intellectual range in both micro and macro disciplinary streams, and mastery of empirical methodologies,” the organization said in its announcement. “His mainstream contributions anticipate the entrepreneurial challenge of growth through labor advantages and reflect the new economy issues ahead.”

Carnahan said the award—from the largest academic organization for strategy researchers—was particularly affirming to his work.

“My research area is human capital, so I tend to study individual employees more often than the typical strategy researcher does. Consequently, there has always been some risk that the field would not view my work as mainstream,” Carnahan said. “The folks on the awards committee are not necessarily working in my research area, so it is very encouraging to me that an audience like that would appreciate what I am working on.”




Lise Shipley, EMBA

For nearly two years, Lise Shipley and Darcy Cunningham have worked together, shared stories, absorbed advice and enjoyed sports. Shipley, EMBA ’93, is a scholarship donor. Cunningham, BSBA ’19, is the recipient of Shipley’s scholarship.

“It’s all about the opportunities I’ve been able to have here at Washington University,” Cunningham said. “I would not have been able to come to WashU without Lise’s generosity.”

As she winds down her undergraduate life and prepares to launch her career as a commercial underwriter at Liberty Mutual in Chicago, Cunningham easily expresses her gratitude for the advice and the role model Shipley has provided since they became acquainted two years ago.

Shipley—a pioneer during the mid-1990s in developing and marketing internet and WiFi networks and services to businesses and consumers during a long career with AT&T—is now a partner in a women-led angel investing firm called Next Wave Ventures and consults with small business startups.

Cunningham—a star on WashU’s women’s soccer team with an NCAA championship under her belt—is the sixth recipient of the Lise Shipley Scholarship since Shipley started funding it in 2005. While her family funds scholarships at several institutions, Shipley finds WashU Olin’s approach to be unique—and the most rewarding.

“Olin makes such a great effort to introduce the awardee with the donor,” she said. “The Scholars in Business event is one of my favorites. Not only do I get to meet my recipient, but I get to meet other students. The real game changer is that you follow the recipients for two, maybe three years. You get a longer time to develop a relationship with the students.”

She’s been able to tell her story, explaining how she decided to get an MBA when she was well into her career, counseling women about managing their careers and providing advice about bringing balance into their lives and careers.

“She’s told me a lot about her career. I’ve been fascinated by the way she has taken ahold of her life—traveling, working with women in business,” Cunningham said. “It was cool to hear how once you have proved yourself, you have a lot of options to make an impact, to keep in touch with your passion.”