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.


Tom and his wife, Erin, at an Olin event. They have two boys: Benjamin, 3, and Gabriel, 18 months.

WashU Olin students should know: Tom Russell, MBA ’15, is a recruiting rock star for those who follow him into the full-time MBA program. In his roles at Anheuser-Busch, he’s hired numerous Olin students for internships and full-time positions. In fact, he just recently sent a request to have Olin students check out six new positions at the beermaker.

Meanwhile, he’s been promoted four times since starting four years ago, serving now as a senior director “reporting directly to our North America CFO, responsible for managing all of our technology operational expenditures and capital expenditures, as well as our technology excellence program.”

That follows nearly four years of service in the US Army in a variety of leadership positions—including combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We caught up with Tom to ask a few questions about how his Olin experience has translated to a career at Anheuser-Busch and how it helped him transition from military to civilian leadership.

In what ways are you using data to make business decisions?

Every decision I make at Anheuser Busch involves data; however, data alone does not always tell the complete story—I layer in qualitative analysis to round out the story in an effort to make the most optimal decision. Specifically, in my current role, I am responsible for managing all of our technology OPEX and CAPEX spending in North America so the majority of my data is financial data.

How did your experience at Olin prepare you for that?

My experience at Olin definitely prepared me well for my career at Anheuser Busch—the core curriculum provided me with a strong foundation in areas such as finance, accounting, critical thinking, statistics and corporate strategy—I have deployed the skills and knowledge I learned in each of these courses throughout my four years at ABI. In addition, in my second year, I focused heavily on finance and analytics—it was great to be able to have the flexibility in the curriculum to concentrate in this way.

How do you leverage your principles, or those of your organization, in weighing the data?

One of our principles at A-B is that we manage costs tightly—this means that we put an immense amount of effort into our budgeting and financial reporting processes. Robust financial management, accounting and reporting are crucial to our cost-connect-win strategy. This cost-conscious, ownership mindset provides the foundation for how I think about our financials and all of the decisions I make.

As a military veteran, did you have experience around the world? Do you view yourself as a global business leader? In what ways?

I did have experience around the world—I served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and also spent a summer in Germany as part of our training curriculum when I was a cadet at West Point. I do view myself as a global business leader—we are a global company, and I routinely interact with my colleagues in South America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, to include routine trips to those parts of the world.

Pictured above: Tom and his wife, Erin, at an Olin event. They have two boys: Benjamin, 3, and Gabriel, 18 months.




Ryan Richt, MBA

WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Ryan Richt, , AB ’08/MBA ’08, founder and CEO, Well Principled

When we meet Ryan Richt, he’s wearing a button-down dress shirt that belies his serious love for data: It’s a design featuring subtly rendered QR codes, which, when scanned, launch the garment maker’s website. Since leaving Olin just over a decade ago, he’s applied that love of data and his business savvy to start two companies—thanks, in part, to an ongoing relationship with WashU Olin faculty mentor Anne Marie Knott.

“We’ve probably had dinner once a month for 10 years since I graduated,” he said. “I used her book to start my first company.”

That relationship continues today. Knott, the Robert and Barbara Frick Professor of Business in Olin Business School, is an investor and chairs the science advisory board for Well Principled, Richt’s year-old startup. His firm leverages artificial intelligence to apply state-of-the-art business research to real-world problems.

In Richt’s model, his company creates “virtual business consultants” that meld a firm’s data—perhaps marketing information or pricing data—with the accumulated knowledge of 30 years of operations research. The consultants automate decision-making based on the firm’s goals.

“It is real work to go through the threads of research and read the back-and-forth between researchers,” Richt said. “Anne Marie and the scientific advisory board help us with that.”

Stay in touch.

Center for Experiential Learning

Business Development

  • Dorothy Kittner, MBA ’94, associate dean and director of business development and corporate relations 314-935-6365 | kittner@wustl.edu

Alumni & Development

Weston Career Center

Executive Education

  • Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and professor of practice in leadership 202-797-6000 | beank@wustl.edu



WashU Olin Business School has officially received accreditation from the Association of MBAs (AMBA), one of the world’s leading authorities on postgraduate business education, demonstrating its continuing commitment to excellence in management education.

Accreditation from the Association of MBAs (AMBA) represents the highest standard of achievement in postgraduate business education. Its rigorous assessment criteria ensure that only the highest-caliber programs which demonstrate the best standards in teaching, curriculum, and student interaction achieve Association of MBAs accreditation.

Olin Business School is part of Washington University (WashU) in St Louis, Missouri. The Business School offers a full-time MBA, Professional MBA and an Executive MBA, along with Executive MBAs in Shanghai and Mumbai.

“We are proud to be the only US-based Business School in the Financial Times’ top 50 to receive AMBA accreditation,” said Olin Dean Mark P. Taylor. “AMBA’s recognition validates the WashU Olin community’s hard work and further proclaims our position as a top global program.”

Members of AMBA’s visiting accreditation panel, representing senior management at AMBA-accredited Business Schools globally, commended the high-quality faculty at Olin.

The panel also commended WashU Olin’s leadership, who they thought was innovative in creating fresh initiatives to enhance the standard of Olin. The panel believed these would continue to improve Olin’s already impressive national and international standing. These initiatives include Olin’s investment in digital learning, which has enabled the School to stay ahead of the curve.

The panel was impressed with alumni relations at Olin. Alumni were found to be highly engaged and were keen to support the mentorship programs. The addition of a new digital platform for alumni was seen to be world-class, giving alumni the opportunity not only to network but to access careers and lifelong learning support.

The accreditation is international in scope and reach, and AMBA works under the belief that accredited programs should be of the highest standard and reflect changing trends and innovation in postgraduate management education. Its accreditation process reflects this commitment to fostering innovation and demanding business schools to perform at the highest level continually.

Andrew Main Wilson, chief executive of AMBA & BGA, said: “As a leading business school in the US, Olin Business School has a tradition of high academic standards. I am delighted to see the school investing in its MBA programs so strategically and I am looking forward to seeing the school continue to exceed expectations with its exciting innovations.

“AMBA only accredits the top 2% of business schools globally, and it is fitting that Olin Business School is part of this select network.”




Byron Porter was intentional about the name of his young startup. “In an industrial operation, a hum is good,” Porter said. “It means everything is working and there are no surprises.”

With HUM Industrial Technology, Porter is taking that hum to the next level. Using “vibration analysis” and machine learning software, Porter has created a monitoring device about the size of a deck of cards to track railcar movements and anticipate when that rolling stock needs maintenance. In an industry where accidents are rarely small, Porter says ditching 40-year-old technology can solve three problems.

First, by monitoring vibrations—the hum—in railcar wheels, bearings and track, Porter’s sensors and machine-learning technology can gauge in real time potential maintenance issues and even estimate how long before a failure. Porter notes that the industry has experienced 125 incidents related to wheel bearing failures since 2015, resulting in $250 million in related expenses. In contrast to Porter’s real-time, smart technology, railroads today rely on “hot box detectors” spaced 20 miles apart that mea-sure when wheel bearings are overheating. “By the time a bearing is hot, it’s already failed,” Porter said.

Second, HUM could improve the predictability of shipments—a chronic problem. “You’re prepared to unload on a given day, you have a crew scheduled,” he said. “But when the train does arrive four days later, you’ve wasted four days paying a crew for each of those days because you thought the train would arrive.”

Finally, Porter says his innovation could improve safety in the compact, busy and notoriously dangerous railyards where manufacturers receive goods. A more sophisticated, real-time system using machine learning could create a clearer digital map for operators to monitor railcar movement.

“I’m an engineer, and engineers like to solve problems,” he said. “You see people get hurt and operational headaches and you think there has to be a better way. Because I can see a better way, I want to make that happen.”

THE FACTS

Startup Stats

  • Established as an LLC on April 12, 2019, and developing as a bootstrap operation at this point.
  • 4 million railcars are in operation globally.
  • 40-year-old technology tracks railcars and monitors for maintenance issues.
  • HUM applies machine learning and “vibration analysis” to anticipate maintenance issues and track rolling stock.

Team

  • Byron Porter, MBA ’20Founder, CEO and lone employee right now

Competition Participation

  • Third-place, receiving $2,500, in the April 17, 2019, Skandalaris Venture Competition
  • Recipient of a $1,000 grant from the Holekamp Seed Fund

More information: humindustrial.com




WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Chris Sanderson, BSBA ’16, investment banking analyst, Metronome

A little more than a year ago, Chris Sanderson was working in valuation services for a large accounting firm. At that point, he wanted a career that aligned better with his finance major. So, he reached out to Olin and its Alumni & Development team.

He leveraged the team’s resources and plugged into the alumni network to make a career switch. “They did two things for me. They introduced me to various WashU alums, and they encouraged me to go to the Chicago alumni dinner in April,” Sanderson said. That’s where he connected with Jeff Rosenkranz, BSBA ’84, who founded Metronome, a Chicago-based investment banking firm, in 2010.

When Sanderson initially reached out to Olin, he was connected with Sean Martin, A&D’s director of development, who started the process. “We had a discussion about what I was looking for, and he explained his role with the alumni network,” Sanderson said. “He agreed to make introductions and was the one who recommended I attend the Chicago alumni dinner.” Sanderson began working at Metronome in June.

Stay in touch.

Center for Experiential Learning

Business Development

  • Dorothy Kittner, MBA ’94, associate dean and director of business development and corporate relations 314-935-6365 | kittner@wustl.edu

Alumni & Development

Weston Career Center

Executive Education

  • Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and professor of practice in leadership 202-797-6000 | beank@wustl.edu