Author: Nancy Barter

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About Nancy Barter

Nancy manages Olin's Alumni & Development Office where she has worked for eleven years to engage worldwide alumni of all Olin programs.


Diana Zeng, BSBA ’14, thought she would explore St. Louis during her four year degree and then head back to Boston. The first didn’t happen. And luckily, neither did the second.

After moving to the United States and growing up near Chicago, New York, and Boston, Diana was looking forward to getting to know St. Louis while studying business and art at Washinton University. Quickly though, she became immersed in campus life and rarely explored the city.

Founding member and CEO of Full Circle - Diana Zeng

Founding member and CEO of Full Circle – Diana Zeng

“The campus bubble is simultaneously lovely and enclosed. There are endless organizations to get involved in, so without a channel to explore St. Louis, it can be easy to forget that an entire bustling city exists outside of WashU’s campus. When I did manage a rare glimpse, I was charmed by the character of the city.  After a summer internship in St. Louis through the Skandalaris Center, I was introduced to the entrepreneurial energy and incredible people making an impact here. I didn’t just want to get to know the city anymore, I now wanted to be a part of it!”

Post-graduation, Diana transitioned from working at a tech startup to leading a nonprofit start-up called Full Circle. The organization’s mission is to connect young talent to St. Louis and build a more economically vibrant and inclusive city in the process. She is the founding Executive Director but gives credit to her team and numerous community leaders for believing in this larger economic development effort to make St. Louis a hub for young talent.

“Our founding team consists of WashU, Saint Louis University and Illinois College alums from four countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, and China. In a lot of ways, we represent the potential that can be captured here. There are many missed opportunities when we don’t connect young talent coming from all over the world to this city and its people. Through Full Circle, we can offer young people a channel to explore St. Louis and a community of peers to be energized by. Additionally for students, getting to know people in their mid-twenties shows them what making a life in St. Louis could be like.”

Modeled after successful efforts in Philadelphia and Baltimore (which has increased student retention from 29% to 51% in the past decade), Full Circle aims to uniquely highlight St. Louis. Their programs and events introduce young talent to professional, social, and civic opportunities in the city while putting a fun and funky twist on networking to help form genuine relationships.

beef+and+a+toast+-+with+love+from+stlFor example, CITYTREK focuses on exploring local events and hidden gems in the city while Beef And A Toast, held in partnership with Venture Cafe, focuses on discussing “beef” (issues) within St. Louis and toasting to being part of the solution.

Student interest from Washington University, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and University of Missouri – St. Louis has also encouraged Full Circle to roll out a campus ambassador program for all of the regional colleges and universities.

“Recently, a WashU sophomore emailed me stating, ‘Full Circle is an organization that I have been trying to find to get involved in.’  That meant the world to us!  The economic benefits are substantial but hearing from an individual about how much we matter to them, that moves us to keep going. I love St. Louis and am proud to call it home, so being able to connect people through Full Circle is extremely fulfilling. Investing in people becomes a direct investment in St. Louis as well.”

If you want to get in touch with Diana to learn more, or support Full Circle, you can reach her at diana@fullcirclehq.org.

Written by guest blogger, KC Friedrich, Senior Associate Director for Development, Olin Business School.

CATEGORY: Career, News, Student Life



Photo, above: Tom and Catherine Holland and their children.

Tom Holland, EMBA ’12, has always been drawn to a life of adventure. As a young man from central Illinois, he participated in Wilderness Adventures, an adventure travel camp headquartered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with program offerings all over the world. Founded in 1973, Wilderness Adventures is for students ages 11-20 and seeks to inspire their leadership capabilities while adventuring through the most pristine natural spaces on the planet.

“That month-long summer experience opened my eyes to the person I could be. I was also exposed to the thrill of outdoor adventure,” Tom says. “I found that the experience was a unique way to educate the minds of young adults. I didn’t know it was possible to receive leadership education in wilderness areas.”

Tom’s experience led to him pursue a degree in secondary education from WashU (LA’02), and after graduating, he became a high school teacher. While teaching high school social studies, he continued to spend his summers leading backpacking adventures for kids in Wyoming.

“The mountains became an extension of my classroom—one where I could grow young adults into the best version of themselves. Using the metaphor of wilderness challenge, we deepened our understanding of ourselves,” he says.

Eventually, Tom went on to become the Executive Director of a residential summer camp program in Wyoming. In his new role, Tom decided to return to Washington University, but this time as a member of Olin’s Executive MBA Class 38.

“The EMBA program, much like that summer adventure so many years ago, challenged me in new ways. I found myself learning from both my professors and my peers. Further, they challenged me to dream big when it came to my professional life in the camp and adventure travel business.”

Following his EMBA experience, Tom took on a new job as CEO of the American Camp Association. There, he served as an industry spokesperson and worked with thousands of summer camp programs in the United States to improve the quality and availability of programs to children.

It was during his tenure at the American Camp Association that he was contacted by the owners of Wilderness Adventures, the program he attended as a teenager. They expressed their desire to pass the torch of leadership after 43 years, and wondered if Tom and his wife, Catherine, would be interested in taking the step into business ownership.

“We were thrilled to be approached with this opportunity and to direct such a fantastic company. With over 25,000 alumni, Wilderness Adventures has been a leader in the camp and student adventure travel industry since 1973, and we look forward to continuing that legacy.”

With hundreds of students coming from all over the United States and many international countries too, the program has global reach. And after just over a year at the helm, it is easy to see that Tom is putting to use the skills he acquired at Olin. While remaining true to the core programming of electronics-free youth adventure travel expeditions in national parks and wild areas around the globe, Wilderness Adventures is launching a day camp program for a younger audience in Jackson Hole.

A surfing excursion with Wilderness Adventures

A surfing excursion with Wilderness Adventures

“It is our goal to inspire the next generation to dream big. I was issued that challenge through my experience with Wilderness Adventures all those years ago, and Catherine and I look forward to being stewards of that mission for years to come.”

During the month of March, Wilderness Adventures is offering a $200 program coupon for the children of Olin alumni who wish to enroll in the summer of 2017.  To claim your coupon, email info@wildernessadventures.com, with the subject line: OLIN20.

Written by guest blogger KC Friedrich, Senior Associate Director of Development, Olin Business School

CATEGORY: Career, News



On Friday, April 21 Olin Business School will recognize the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Honorees followed by a very special gala to commemorate our Centennial. The evening begins in a spectacular tent on Mudd Field, and the Gala will include various entertainment, festive food stations and cocktails, a fun photo booth, and an interactive digital exhibit showcasing Olin’s rich history.

We will not be hosting a traditional sit-down dinner, but there will be ample gourmet food to enjoy and a variety of seating on every level of the building. The evening will conclude with a celebratory fireworks display as we embark on Olin’s second century of excellence. The exciting and commemorative event promises to be a night to remember.

Distinguished Alumni Awards & Centennial Gala

  • Bill Broderick, MBA 1976
    Partner (Retired), Edward Jones
  • Lee Fixel, BSBA 2002
    Partner, Tiger Global Management
  • Nina Leigh Krueger, MBA 1994
    President, Nestle Purina U.S.
  • Dave Moellenhoff, EN 1992, EN 1992, MBA 1994
    Co-Founder & Former Chief Technology Officer, Salesforce.com, Inc.
  • Rick L. Ryan, PhD, MBA 1994
    CEO, Apertus Pharmaceuticals, LLC; General Partner, Cultivation Capital Life Sciences

Dean’s Medalists

Mahendra R. Gupta, PhD and Sunita Garg
Former Dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management

Emerging Leaders Celebration

  • Arvan S. Chan, MBA 2009, MHA 2009
    Vice President, International Markets, Centene Corporation
  • Chuck K. Cohn, BSBA 2008
    Founder and CEO, Varsity Tutors
  • James A. Mourey, BSBA 2005
    Assistant Professor, Department of Marketing, DePaul University
  • JD Ross, BSBA 2012
    Co-founder, Opendoor
  • Meghan O’Meara Winegrad, MBA 2006
    Senior Director, Product Management, Express Scripts

For more information or to register for these events, visit the
Olin Celebration Weekend website

Questions? Contact Anne Peterson at annepeterson@wustl.edu or 314-935-5872

Mark your calendar:  All events are complimentary! Consider making a gift in honor of Olin’s 100 years of excellence!

CATEGORY: News



Deibel Family

Recently, alumnus Todd Deibel, MBA ’97, took a few moments to catch up with Olin Alumni & Development. Check out Todd’s thoughts on how his Olin education helped prepare him for his career:

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I recently acquired and manage a company called Second Sight Systems, and I can honestly say I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. This can largely be attributed to the high-tech industries we serve (utilities and communications) and the incredibly talented people I get to work with every day.

Our company focuses on three areas: utility engineering services, industrial wireless systems, and communications tower services. We have positioned Second Sight Systems to be at the forefront of supporting customers who are investing in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) through our partnership with General Electric. We are also a tier-one supplier to Ameren for their Smart Grid modernization program. If you’re a technology nerd like me, there is absolutely no better place to be!

Olin certainly shaped me in a way I didn’t see coming. Through the Weston Career Center, I landed an internship at Texas Instruments and found my calling in the technology space.  Upon graduation, I took a position at Intel Corporation and had the fortunate experience of living and working in Silicon Valley, Germany, and the UK. I can guarantee you none of this would have happened had I not attended a nation-wide leading MBA program like Olin’s.

What Olin course influenced your life most, and why?

Operations with Dean Kropp is where I really felt like I hit my stride at Olin. Relative to my impressive classmates (kudos to the full-time MBA’ers of 1997!), I honestly felt over matched in just about every other class I attended. However, Dean Kropp had a presentation style and message that resonated with me, and it just clicked. To this day I think he’s one of the most brilliant, charismatic instructors I’ve ever come across, and his operational philosophy stuck with me as I managed multiple companies over the years.

(Quick side story: As I was getting to know him during my first year at Olin, I constantly addressed him as “Dean Kropp” (by his full name) and eventually I realized he was in fact not the “Dean” of the school but rather, “Professor” Kropp!  He never let me live that one down…God rest his soul!)

How do you stay engaged with Olin?

I have remained involved with Olin in several ways, but the two areas I focus on are mentoring students and providing scholarship funds. Mentoring both undergrads and graduate students of Olin is a humbling experience.

The talent level in these students is truly impressive and at times while I’m meeting with students I’m not exactly sure who is mentoring who!

I can guarantee you I get just as much out of our discussions as they do. It’s a great experience to get back on campus and to hear the stories of these students, and to act as a sounding board for career opportunities. In addition to this, my wife Jeni and I established a scholarship fund, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to personally know the students who are impacted by these funds.

Why is an MBA education important?

An MBA will force you to confront your weaknesses and help round out your managerial skillset. There is nowhere to hide in an MBA program. For example, no matter how long you put it off, you will eventually have to sit through a Statistics class! (Believe me, I tried my best to dodge that one.) But once you get after it, you begin to realize how quantitative theories are applied in just about everything we do in running a business. An MBA has a way of not only rounding you out, but also opening your eyes to a bigger world with bigger opportunities, especially coming from an internationally diverse program like Olin.

Learn more about Olin’s top-ranked full-time MBA program and reconnect with Olin through Alumni and Development.




BSBA alum and entrepreneur David Dresner

Founder and CEO of Sleeve a Message and Coast a Message, David Dresner (BSBA ’10), has created a $20,000 scholarship specifically to aid students attending Washington University’s Olin Business School.

Dresner announced the scholarship with the goal to make a quality education affordable for qualified business students from the St. Louis metropolitan area with significant financial need.

“You shouldn’t have to suffer loads of debt just because you are pursuing a quality education,” said Dresner. “Helping the next generation helps all of us in St. Louis. Giving back to the community is one part of our sustainable business model.”

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Examples of custom, sustainable coffee cup sleeves from Dresner’s company.

St. Louis-based Sleeve a Message and Coast a Message develop custom coffee attire and coasters for many well-known companies across North America including Bon Appetit, Dark Matter, Whole Foods, Restoration Hardware, Hulu, Target, Dogwood Coffee Company, Progressive Insurance, Au Bon Pain, Lavazza, and Volkswagen USA. Sleeve a Message and Coast a Message’s unique commitment to sustainable social practices has earned them a reputation for continued service to the community.

“David is passionate about his commitment to the St. Louis community and supporting efforts that strengthen the region. Working with David to create this scholarship has been an absolute pleasure. We are grateful for his work, and we’re proud to count him among our alumni,” stated K.C. Cortinovis Friedrich, Senior Associate Director of Development at Washington University’s Olin Business School.

For more information about the Washington University Scholarship, contact Liz Sharpe-Taylor at 315-542-0400 or at lsharpetaylor@mswmarketing.com. For more information about David Dresner and Sleeve a Message or Coast a Message, please visit www.sleeveamessage.com or www.coastamessage.com.

Photos: Olin Business Magazine, 2012.

CATEGORY: News, Student Life