Author: Olin in the Media

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About Olin in the Media

Posting the latest on Olin student, alumni, faculty, and staff stories from business and news outlets locally, nationally, and around the world.


April Powell

Going back to school mid-career to earn an executive MBA is a tremendous accomplishment. Then, there’s April Powell. The recently named general manager for Bon Appétit Management Company at Washington University did earn her EMBA in 2017.

But she also had her second daughter in the middle of the program. While parenting her eldest daughter, 3. And she’s just recently had a third.

All this during a meteoric rise with Bon Appétit, where she started five years ago. Three years ago, she was promoted to director of operations for the 13-café Danforth campus before her most recent promotion.

To top it off, she recruited her boss into the WashU Olin EMBA program.

“She has an incredible engine,” District Manager David Murphy told the Bon Appétit blog. She has “huge confidence, but she’s a deep thinker—she has an insatiable appetite for understanding why things fail. That’s what a leader wakes up every day and thinks about. She never assumes that ‘good’ is good enough.

Read more about April Powell in a profile on the Bon Appétit blog.




Poets & Quants has released its latest update highlighting members of the WashU Olin Business School—this time focusing on the MBA class of 2020. The online business education magazine provided in-depth profiles of 12 members of the class, including two US servicemen, a former consultant, and a banker.

“The quality that comes to mind in describing my MBA classmates is ‘eager,'” said Erik Andrew, a US Marine from St. Louis. “Everyone in the class embraces the community at Olin and is excited to begin the journey.”

The students were effusive in their support for Olin.

“I wanted to attend a top-quality program that would provide great career opportunities after graduation,” said Claudia Ortiz Albert, who came to WashU after working as a corporate and investment banking analyst for Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria. “Olin also stood out to me because from the first interaction I had with the admissions team, they made me feel like I belonged here.”

Poets & Quants took note of several key metrics related to the class.

It includes 135 members, 10 less than the previous class. That may be a product of two factors. First, the school received 59 fewer applications. That said, the school accepted nearly 100 fewer applications, resulting in the acceptance rate falling seven points to 33 percent. In other words, it will likely be harder for applicants to get into Olin going forward…. Demographically, the growth of women (was) the biggest change. The 2020 Class broke the coveted 40 mark, with women comprising 42 percent of the class.

Read the full report on Poets & Quants or click on the names below to see their profile online.

Student Hometown Alma Mater Last Employer
Erik Andrew St. Louis, MO University of Missouri US Marine Corps
Kris Fenn Salt Lake City, UT Wesleyan College University of Utah (Eccles School of Business)
Brinda Gupta Naperville, IL Saint Louis University Washington University (Brown School)
Abraham Kola-Amodu Lagos, Nigeria Bowen University KPMG
Felicia Kola-Amodu Oyo, Nigeria Bowen University Enterprise Holdings
Lizaveta Miadzvedskaya Krichev, Belarus University of Texas-Dallas Baker Botts
Bruno Moreira Yamamura São Paulo, Brazil University of Campinas Ponta Iluminação
Richard Obiora Atlanta, GA Emory University Logicworks
Claudia Ortiz Albert Valencia, Spain Campbell University Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria S.A.
Jessica Sanchez Chavez Havana, Cuba University of Havana Citibank
Justin Smith Granite City, IL Southern Illinois University United States Army
Shaun Brij Vaid St. Louis, MO George Washington University BJC Healthcare



Kenny Kline, EN

In INC. Magazine, entrepreneur Kenny Kline, EN ’08, MSF ’08—cofounder of online strength-based competition and training publisher BarBend—has some simple advice for other startup founders: Get an entire city behind you.

Kline first moved to St. Louis to attend WashU and ended up staying for several years after graduating because “St. Louis is a vibrant place with a lot of cool stuff going on.” Combine that with the relatively low cost of living and the city is a great place to start a business.

In the process of starting [my] company, I discovered what makes St. Louis highly valuable to would-be founders: The city is truly dedicated to helping startups thrive.

From the nonprofit Arch Grants program (which offers funding with no equity) to the Cortex Innovation Community (a 200-acre innovation hub and technology district in the heart of St. Louis), Cultivation Capital (a venture capital firm that supports multiple accelerator programs), and SixThirty (a global FinTech venture fund and business development program), St. Louis promises no shortage of resources for budding entrepreneurs.

And it’s exactly resources like these that explain why entrepreneurs are increasingly willing to leave the traditional startup hubs in search of greener (and more cost-effective) pastures. Those entrepreneurs who are brave enough to break with convention are finding boundless support in the middle of America.

In addition to sharing his own experiences, Kline (who also has an MBA from Columbia Business School) speaks with Michael Seaman, founder of SwipeSum, who moved his company from LA to St. Louis. Seaman also sings St. Louis’ praises as a stellar place for startups, boasting great talent, a strong work ethic, and of course, affordability going for it. Seaman is now on a mission to encourage other founders to look beyond the coasts and to take advantage of resources available in other parts of the country.

Read more at Inc. about Kline’s and Seaman’s experiences as entrepreneurs in St. Louis.




Jason Wang, BSBA ’09, recalls the day at Washington University when his father texted him a photo of “a tall, old white dude” dining at the family’s New York City restaurant.

It was the day Anthony Bourdain, with film crew in tow, really put Xi’an Famous Foods on the map. That was in 2008. A decade later, Wang paid tribute to the chef and television host, on the day of Bourdain’s suicide.

On Friday, Wang, CEO of his family’s growing food empire, committed 100 percent of the day’s net sales to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, raising $73,509.76.

On Monday, he thanked patrons and restaurant staffers in an Instagram post for their heartfelt support: “We were able to serve almost double the amount of dishes as usual during dinner on Friday 6/8/18, with some stores selling out of items towards the end of the night,” wrote the 2016 recipient of the Olin Emerging Leader award. “Thank you for helping us with this tribute to our friend.”

The Huffington Post has the full story here. You can find The Wall Street Journal feature about Bourdain and Xi’an Famous Foods here. At the time of the WSJ feature, Wang had just opened the chain’s 10th store. It’s since expanded to include nine active stores in Manhattan, two in Queens, and one in Brooklyn. Wang is regularly involved in Olin’s New York alumni network, participates in the NY Trek with students, and is part of the WashU Asian Alumni Network.

Today’s a day of extreme sadness for us here at Xi’an Famous Foods. I’ve lost a dear friend today, and we mourn with the rest of the world. I remember the time in 2007 when Tony first visited our basement food stall in Flushing for Travel Channel’s No Reservations while I was still in college (even though I didn’t know who he was at the time). I remember my father preparing interesting off-menu dishes to get his opinion on when he visited our store. I remember years later in 2015 after interviewing together for an article, I approached Tony and told him, while he may have no idea what he has done for our family and business by simply saying he enjoyed the food, I wanted him to know it helped bring our family out from living in one room in Flushing to living the American dream. We were able to grow our business and provide great food for our guests, and opportunities for our employees. I looked at him in the eyes and said, this is something we will always be thankful for, Tony. And he simply replied, “I’m just calling out good food like it is, that’s all.” In honor of his memory and all of those dear people who left us all too early, and in taking whatever action we can to prevent suicide in the US, Xi’an Famous Foods will be donating 100% of our net sales on June 8, 2018, from all of our stores, to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK @800273talk. Please cherish all of our lives and help those who may be struggling. Rest in peace, Tony, and the most sincere condolences to Tony’s beloved family. ~Jason Wang, CEO … [UPDATE 6/11/18: With your heartfelt support, along with the hard work of our store staff, we were able to serve almost double the amount of dishes as usual during dinner on Friday 6/8/18, with some stores selling out of items towards the end of the night. We were able to raise $73,509.76 (net sales) to donate to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline ‘1-800-273-TALK (8255)’ to help their work in suicide prevention. Thank you for helping us with this tribute to our friend.]

A post shared by Xi’an Famous Foods (@xianfoods) on


Joe Lacob, the owner of the NBA franchise Golden State Warriors, whose $1 million donation led to the creation of Olin’s minor in the business of sports, offered some leadership lessons during a 17-minute video interview with program director Patrick Rishe, published recently on YouTube.

As Rishe, professor of practice-sports business, writes on the YouTube page: “On the Warriors first day of practice to kick off the 2017-18 campaign, I had the good fortune to interview Mr. Lacob, owner and CEO of the Golden State Warriors. Mr. Lacob has been a champion for Washington University, and he was generous to spend time with me on such a busy morning.”

The interview starts Lacob’s recollection of the day in 2012 when, as a relatively new owner of the franchise, he went to center court to retire the jersey number of star Chris Mullins. Fans greeted him with a chorus of boos, apparently in response to a controversial trade.

Five years later, the team has three NBA championships under its collective belt — in 2015, again in 2017, and finally, a third just a few days ago when the team defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. He made his comments to Rishe before the third championship.

“We stayed on our plan and obviously, it’s worked out,” Lacob told Rishe. “Five straight playoff appearances, three finals appearances, two championships. And more importantly and things I’m perhaps things I’m even more proud of, is the way our organization has performed as a whole, the business side as well as the basketball side.”

Lacob noted that leaders make sure the entire organization is watching the little things as well as the big things: “What makes an organization successful is constantly being aware that you have to do everything well,” he said. “You have to pay attention all the time. Every little thing counts.”

Lacob’s donation in 2014 led to the creation of the minor in the business of sports program, which is available to undergraduates across the WashU campus.

Rishe’s interview with Lacob is one of 50 that will be featured in his upcoming e-book, They Shoot, They Score…Lessons in Leadership, Innovation, and Strategy from the Business of Sports. The book will feature several national sports executives, including Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks; Kerry Bubolz, president of the Vegas Golden Knights; Tom Penn, president and co-owner of LAFC; and several St. Louis-based sports executives, including Chris Zimmerman, president of business operations, St. Louis Blues; Dan Farrell, senior vice president of sales and marketing for the St. Louis Cardinals. The book is expected to be available Aug. 1, 2018.