Author: WashU Olin Business School

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About WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.


Olin Dean Mark P. Taylor shared this update with members of the WashU Olin community—students, staff and faculty—today.

As we steadily press forward in developing Olin’s strategic plan for inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA), I wanted to share what I can about our progress so far. Before doing so, I must reiterate my tremendous gratitude for everyone who has had a hand in moving us forward in this area.

That includes students who have engaged with me personally, sharing their honest and candid insights. It includes staff and faculty, who have given of their time to assess our needs and offer measurable solutions. And it includes alumni who have reached out to gain a deeper understanding about the importance of this work to Olin’s future.

In this note, I’ll share updates on:

  • Faculty hiring in the fall, including progress toward hiring an associate dean for IDEA.
  • Action we’ve undertaken in our strategic planning process—and what actions we haven’t taken and why.
  • Plans for ongoing workplace development at the school.

Progress in hiring

The associate dean. A key component of our plan remains among our highest priorities: hiring an associate dean for IDEA. We have engaged Collaborative Strategies as our partner in the recruitment process for that position (as well as, I might add, the new associate dean for graduate programs). We have undertaken that process with a sense of urgency, and I’ll tell you why. Put simply, that person must be empowered to galvanize and meaningfully lead our work in this area—and to do so as soon as possible. Indeed, a key first step for that person will be convening a number of focus groups and listening sessions. Thus, my sense of urgency in completing this task.

Other faculty hiring. I’m pleased to note that the new faculty cohort arriving before the start of the next academic year is among the most representative we have ever welcomed. This has always been—and always will be—a goal of our faculty recruitment efforts, and I’m happy to report this year’s work was successful. Note that we’ll publish more about these hires in the 2021 edition of Olin Business magazine.

The strategic plan

As we work toward hiring the associate dean for IDEA, we haven’t delayed in making first-year plans to focus on issues we know we must address. I’m grateful for the outstanding work of the plan champions, who put together extensive drafts and proposed budgets for each for each of the stakeholder areas in our plan: students, faculty, staff and the alumni and at-large communities.

Our plans will be reviewed and updated as needed by the new associate dean in consultation with students, faculty and staff. Our draft includes proposed action items well beyond this year. These are a few of the initiatives conceived for year one.

For student stakeholders

  • Increasing the number of Black faculty at Olin.
  • Launching a graduate-level course in inclusion, diversity, equity and access.
  • Joining two to three new national networks focused on IDEA recruitment at all program levels and continue to leverage current activity.
  • Increase the use of diverse course materials (i.e., case studies and course examples where at least one protagonist is not a white male).
  • Clarifying current student grievance process, and expand the current student grievance process to encapsulate an IDEA lens.

For faculty stakeholders

  • Evaluating our required faculty annual activity form to include individual faculty efforts toward promoting IDEA initiatives.
  • Systematically reviewing the hiring process for underrepresented minority/track applicants to ensure we are reaching desired groups.
  • Running professional development workshops for URM PhD students and junior faculty outside WashU Olin.
  • Launching the pre-doctoral program aimed at URM students to prepare for doctoral programs in business.

For staff stakeholders

  • Reviewing and enhancing the hiring processes to recruit Black, Latinx and other URM staff.
  • Setting clear expectations by developing IDEA standards, policies and practices specific to staff.
  • Continuing HR focus groups.
  • Providing IDEA support and reinforcement throughout the staff lifecycle (from hire to exit).

For alumni/community stakeholders

  • Supporting career progression and advancement for diverse alumni with a focus on the first five years after graduation to increase the number of diverse graduates in leadership roles and support and track salary growth.
  • Increasing overall engagement with diverse alumni through communication, events and lifelong learning.
  • Educating on leadership strategies and tactics for deeper understanding of diversity and changing cultures.
  • Partnering with alumni and the business community to raise support for Olin’s overall IDEA efforts.
  • Supporting diverse alumni with small business through the Small Business Initiative (using all student groups) and diverse alumni entrepreneurs through CELect/CEL and Skandalaris.

Staff/faculty development

As many of you are aware, we recently concluded a series of workshops focused on raising awareness about microaggressions in the workplace—the “Subtle Acts of Exclusion” workshops in March and April. Earlier—indeed, before the pandemic—we hosted a series of workshops focused on unconscious bias. We are reviewing follow-up programming to offer our staff and faculty more options to engage in this work.

Additionally, we are launching an MBA-level course focused on IDEA, which will be rolled out over the next year, and will later expand through other programs.

Finally, we anticipate additional programming developed in partnership with WashU’s Academy for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion that will be presented sometime in the vicinity of Juneteenth (which falls on a Saturday this year).

Further updates

I recognize the importance of transparency in our work toward advancing inclusion, diversity, equity and access within the walls of Olin and beyond. Thus, I also recognize the healthy appetite each of us has for ongoing updates on our progress in this work. I pledge to continue providing meaningful updates as often as possible.

It is my hope that our next update will include news of our new associate dean for IDEA and next steps toward bringing that person up to speed in our work. In the meantime, I remain available for your questions and look forward to continuing this important work together.




Cynthia Cryder

With glowing comments from nominators, Associate Marketing Professor Cynthia Cryder was named one of Poets & Quants top 40 under 40 professors for the year.

It was the second consecutive year a WashU Olin professor made the list. Last year, the online business school magazine tapped Seth Carnahan, associate professor of strategy, for the recognition.

In its page on Cryder among the top 40 profs published on Monday, P&Q cited remarks from those who nominated Cryder for the honor. One said, “Professor Cryder is a shining example of how one professor can embody both research excellence and teaching excellence.”

P&Q noted that Cryder was the first to teach Olin’s MBA marketing core fully online (because of COVID restrictions) and the first woman ever to teach in Olin’s marketing core (online or offline). The feature also noted the many times she had been cited in the media in the past year on the question of whether people should be incentivized to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Professor Cryder is able to take cutting-edge psychological research and translate it into actions that are relevant to the marketing managers of today and tomorrow,” another nominator wrote. “Professor Cryder continues to produce outstanding research that is published in the best academic journals.”

Read more about the Poets & Quants top 40 under 40 and, specifically, the page on Cynthia Cryder.




Stop Asian hate protest image. Photo via Shutterstock

This message to members of the WashU Olin community was sent by Dean Mark P. Taylor and the members of the SMP Council and the Olin East and Southeast Asia Club.

Dear Olin faculty, staff and students:

We write to you today from a place of both sadness and anger in response to continued acts of bigotry and hatred that have divided our nation over the past year. The violence committed in Atlanta this week, as well as all acts of discrimination and violence inflicted upon members of the Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities are unacceptable.

These acts stand in direct contradiction with Olin’s values of diversity, collaboration, integrity, excellence and leadership. We stand in solidarity with you, walking on the path forward together.

These events are another painful reminder that we must continue to work to create an inclusive community that values and respects our Asian community members.

Below, please find a list of a few campus spaces where you can begin or continue the work of crafting the inclusive community we all desire—one where we all can live, work, grow and thrive. To create that community, it is imperative that we each rise to the challenge of becoming allies in this work.

If you feel uneasy or worried about the recent uptick in violence against the Asian community, in addition to Olin’s undergraduate and graduate student affairs teams you can seek mental health resources at the Habif Wellness Center. Faculty and staff Mental Health Resources are also available.

This work isn’t abstract for us within the Olin community. As you can see from this story in The New York Times, the consequences of this hatred hit very close to home. Jason Wang is a 2009 BSBA from Olin. We are called to respond. This is who we are. These are our colleagues. These are our classmates, our friends, our family. This is Olin.

Photo above via Shutterstock.




Hillary Anger Elfenbein, area chair of the faculty for organizational behavior and the John K. Wallace, Jr. and Ellen A. Wallace Distinguished Professor and Professor of Organizational Behavior, and Dean Mark P. Taylor shared this update to the WashU Olin community.

We are writing to let you know that Peter Boumgarden is now the Koch Family Professor of Practice for the Koch Center for Family Business. Peter’s new appointment was announced at today’s annual Olin Family Business Symposium.

In addition to his professor of practice role, Peter will serve as director of the Koch Center. He will continue to teach within and work closely with our organizational behavior area.

Bart Hamilton, Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professor of Economics, Management & Entrepreneurship, will continue with the Koch Center as research director. Peter will also retain his role as academic director of the Center for Experiential Learning.

Congratulations to Peter on this new role.




Keith Choy, EMBA-Shanghai

In a Q&A with McKinsey & Company published last month, Keith Choy describes how his GlaxoSmithKline’s Asia–Pacific Consumer Healthcare group is relying on the reality of the pandemic and the company’s values to speed up its response to customers and demonstrate its agility.

Choy, EMBA-Shanghai ’07, is head of the GSK unit, overseeing 6,000 employees whom, the article says, he has asked “to consider the pandemic a call to action, a chance to double down on existing digitalization initiatives and strengthen end-to-end supply chains to even better respond to emerging consumption trends across the 23 Asia–Pacific markets the company serves.”

Here are a few highlights from the October conversation Choy had with McKinsey on how “GSK is responding to COVID-19, how the company is guided by its values and what global companies can do to succeed in Asia during COVID-19 and beyond.”

On tech and digitalization

“Even before the pandemic, people were getting more digitalized and using technology in ways we couldn’t imagine before. We need to accelerate our use of digital to engage with consumers, customers, and healthcare professionals.”

On company values

“During the pandemic, and even Chinese New Year, our manufacturing site employees still went back to work; our supply chain continued to deliver products to customers. We demonstrated a deep commitment to help patients even as we worked to keep our employees safe and healthy.”

On speeding customer response

“Our decision tree is based on empowerment of our people—the trust of the leadership in the people on the ground. We give them whatever support and resources we can. In that sense, decision making is on the local level.”

On leadership qualities

“The first quality I look for is how they prioritize; I want to see how they consider opportunities and challenges and if they can quickly identify priorities. The second is how they shoulder their leadership responsibilities and accountabilities, and how well they connect with people even under remote conditions.”

Read the full interview on McKinsey & Company’s website.