Author: Melody Walker

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About Melody Walker

My nickname around the office is "Scoops" because I always have the latest news from the halls of Simon, Starbucks, or the STL startup scene. Thanks to staff and student bloggers, I'm not alone in reporting on the Olin community here on the Blog. Don't be shy, post a comment or send us your story. New bloggers always welcome!

Jerry Kent is a recognized entrepreneur and trailblazer in the telecommunications and technology industries with an outstanding track record for customer service and delivering superior returns for investors. Prior to assuming the role of TierPoint’s CEO, he served as its chairman. He also serves as CEO of Cequel III, which he co-founded in January 2002.

Cequel III is a technology management company. Previously, the Cequel III team built AAT Communications into the largest privately owned cell tower company in the United States before selling that enterprise in 2006. Cequel III and Jerry also managed Suddenlink Communications, building it into the seventh largest U.S. cable company with operating results among the best in its industry before it was sold to Altice Group in 2015 for an enterprise value of $9.1 billion.

Jerry began his career as a CPA with Arthur Andersen in 1979, and in 1983 left to head up acquisitions and finance for an upstart cable company, Cencom Cable Associates, Inc. He later became CFO of Cencom, which grew by acquisition and eventually served 550,000 customers in the U.S. before it was sold in 1991.

Jerry and Judy Kent sponsor the Kent Scholarship Fund which currently provides partial-to-full tuition scholarships for 18 BSBA students.
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

After serving a year with Cencom’s acquirer, Jerry left and co-founded Charter Communications, Inc., in January 1993. He led Charter to become one of the 10 largest cable operators in the U.S., serving 1.3 million customers. In 1998, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen acquired Charter, providing substantial rewards for Charter’s private investors. Jerry continued as President and CEO, growing Charter to serve more than 7 million customers and making it the nation’s fourth largest cable company at the time. The company went public in November 1999, in what was then the third-largest IPO in U.S. history. Charter consistently led the industry in superior operating results and from the IPO date until September 2001, the month Jerry left, Charter’s was the best performing public cable stock.

A native of the St. Louis metropolitan area, Jerry is very active in the community, serving on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee for his alma mater, Washington University, and on the Olin National Council from which he earned his bachelor’s degree and MBA. He is Vice Chairman of The Magic House/St. Louis Children’s Museum Board. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the St. Louis Zoo and Chairman of the St. Louis Zoological Park Subdistrict Commission.

Source: Cequel III




“When I found out that our offices were literally across the street from each other,” Amanda Signorelli, BSBA’13, said, “we had to meet.” The newly named CEO of Chicago-based TechWeek, a conference and media company focused on building startup communities, couldn’t wait to meet Rick Weisberg, BSBA’81. After all, he had made it possible for her to graduate from Washington University.

Signorelli had just been named one of the Top 20 Female Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017 by CIO.com and was preparing to share her success story at the Scholars in Business dinner last fall. Meeting Weisberg would provide an important piece of the story from her undergrad days.

During her sophomore year, Signorelli learned that her family was in financial straits and could not afford to pay for college; she would have to drop out of WashU. “It was terrifying,” Signorelli recalls. The prospect of leaving the school she had worked so hard to attend, and where she was happily pursuing interests in languages and entrepreneurship, was devastating.

Signorelli was unaware of the Scholars in Business Program and the generations of students, like her, that it has helped since 1979. She was overwhelmed when she learned that she qualified for a scholarship and would be able to stay in college and earn her degree at WashU. “It was amazing to see how connected the Olin network was, to sense I needed help, and they were there,” she said.

Signorelli was a recipient of the Lawrence Krulik Memorial Scholarship created in 1991 by Rick and Sheryl (BA’81) Weisberg in honor of her father. More than 25 students have benefited from the fund. Each year, the Weisbergs have received notes of appreciation and thanks from grateful Olin students, but until this past year, the Weisbergs had never actually met one of their scholarship students in person.

At their first meeting in a Chicago coffee shop, Signorelli told Rick Weisberg, “I don’t think you have a sense of just how important this scholarship was for me.” Amanda remembers the meeting as, “Very surreal. It was a really special moment for me.”

Amanda Signorelli and Rick Weisberg chat during video shoot for Scholars in Business Dinner.

The feeling was mutual for Weisberg. “Frankly it really hit me in a very, very positive way. I was very touched that she reached out to me. I never really fully understood the impact that the scholarship had made on her and others who received it because I never saw the outcome.”

Weisberg is quick to add that he takes no credit for Amanda’s success. “If I helped her on her path that’s one thing, but you know it’s up to the individual to find their path and be successful at it.” Weisberg found his path and passion in finance while at Olin. He says he will never forget the support and encouragement he received from Dean Bob Virgil when applying to graduate school at New York University. “Dean Virgil set up an interview for me with the dean of NYU’s business school. Thanks to that conversation, I was accepted into the MBA program right out of WashU and it changed my life.”

On Giving

“I’ve been involved in a lot of organizations, whether it’s been in in the theater, religious, or otherwise, but I have not found a better organization than Washington University both in terms of the purpose of donations and in terms of the operational side of the equation. The attention to detail in terms of the care that you feel from the university prior to the contribution, during the contribution, and after, it seems seamless and effortless and actually makes it a very pleasurable experience, and it’s just a great place to be a part of.”   – Rick Weisberg

After 26 successful years with Goldman Sachs, Weisberg continues to work as a private investor. He has remained connected to WashU through the Eliot Society and the regional cabinet in Chicago where the Weisbergs have lived since 1988. Meeting Amanda, Weisberg admits was a learning experience. “It has re-motivated me in a very positive way to re-think my philanthropic process. When you give to a large organization you know you’re doing something good, but you never directly see the outcome. In the case of the scholarship program, you know there is a proportionate and direct impact from what you provide.”

Amanda Signorelli will never forget the impact that the Weisberg’s generous gift had on her life. And now that she has connected with the fellow alumnus and donor who made it possible, she realizes she is a part of the Olin network that will be there to support the next generation of students with time, money, mentoring, and friendship.

Link to Entrepreneur’s Business Rockstars video with Amanda Signorelli.

Link to 2016 Scholars in Business Dinner video featuring Bob Virgil and Amanda Signorelli.

CATEGORY: Career, Student Life



“Just consider me as Joe bag-of-doughnuts, Joe six pack,” says the self-deprecating host of the American Management Association’s Edgewise podcast, Dave Summers, as he invites Anne Marie Knott to explain her RQ theory to non-academics. The two discuss Knott’s new book, How Innovation Really Works on the podcast.

Prof. Anne Marie Knott

Knott, professor of strategy at Olin, has developed a tool to measure the relationship between a company’s spending on R&D and how it affects profits and market value. You can think of the tool called “RQ” for Research Quotient as the equivalent of human IQ measurement for companies. If you know a company’s RQ, according to Knott, you can determine its optimal level of  R&D spending, and you can figure out how the change in R&D spending affects profits and market value.

How Innovation Really Works is accessible to “Joe Six Pack” as well as Jane, PhD. Knott says, “Geeks like me can find all the mathematical stuff in Chapter 10. The math is really beautiful.” For those who want to skip the numbers, she recommends chapters 1-8 to understand the the innovation-R&D-GDP connections.

Knott explains on the podcast how she got interested in innovation and R&D while working on missile defense systems at Hughes Aircraft before she entered academics. Her corporate experience fueled her research into why companies like Hughes were failing to maintain their innovative edge by outsourcing R&D.

The Edgewise podcast is produced by the AMA, link here for more info.

Related blog post with video.

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We can’t believe the founders of the Bear-y Sweet Shoppe have all graduated and sold their startup to the next generation of entrepreneurs! We remember when they were launching their kickstarter campaign back in 2014. Time flies when you’re having fun, selling candy to sleep-deprived undergrads with a sweet tooth jones for peanut butter cups and gummy bears to fuel a long night of studying. The Sweet Shoppe was a brilliant startup idea and it has been a success…let’s hope it’s here to stay and will become a campus landmark and role-model for future student-run businesses at WashU.

Founders of the Bear-y Sweet Shoppe

Poets & Quants featured the Sweet Shoppe on its site following the selection of co-founder Jessica Landzberg as one of the Best & Brightest Class of 2017 Undergrads. Be sure to read the P&Q story here.

Landzberg told P&Q that the idea for the candy story was inspired by her visits to her older sisters when they were students at the University of Rochester where there was a campus candy store.

“The hardest part was making it legitimate,” she says. “We had to file as an LLC, and we had to get many, many licenses, because we’re selling food. We had to make sure we were doing everything by the book – getting our licenses and filing taxes as a business.”

Check out the Sweet Shoppe’s website for news about the second generation of owners and their plans for next year.

For more info on the Student Entrepreneurship Program (StEP), click here.




Alumni in the news

The Belleville News-Democrat features a profile (with video) on Jim Mourey, BSBA’05, who was recently honored during Olin’s Celebration Weekend as an Emerging Leader. Mourey is a multi-talented assistant marketing professor at DePaul University in Chicago. He is musical director for the Uptones, a Chicago-based singing group, and hones his improv and comedic writing skills at the world-renowned Second City. He also finds time to teach marketing at a business school in France and takes his DePaul students to Paris in depth study of the luxury consumer brand market.

Mourey was center stage at Olin’s Emerging Leaders event April 20, 2017.
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Mourey, a first-generation college student, thought he wanted to pursue finance and accounting at Olin, but his creative side discovered better synergies in marketing. He earned his doctorate at the University of Michigan.

“I made a promise to myself that no matter what I did professionally, I would always continue singing and acting,” said Mourey, 34, told The Belleville News-Democrat, his hometown newspaper.

“I’ve always been passionate about performing. There’s an energy you get when you’re on stage. It’s a thrill, and when you have creative outlets, it gives you balance, and I think that’s important.” – Jim Mourey

Read more here

CATEGORY: Career