Author: Olin Women in Business

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About Olin Women in Business

Olin Women in Business supports women in business by offering career, recruiting, educational and networking opportunities for women MBAs at Olin Business School. We promote gender equity in leadership through advances in curriculum, career development and community building for women.


Submitted to Olin Blog by Leslie Ann Ramey, MBA ’20, vice president of marketing and communications for Olin Women in Business.

On Saturday, February 15, members of the WashU and St. Louis community will come together to celebrate and support future women leaders at the annual Olin Women in Business Auction.

This student-driven fundraising tradition goes back more than a decade as a signature event hosted by Olin Women in Business (OWIB), and it provides a great way for the community to come together in support of a meaningful cause: raising scholarship funds for incoming MBA women. 

When considering the business leader landscape, it’s easy to see why this cause is a significant one: Currently, only 5% of S&P 500 CEOs are women, and research has shown that 40% of these women hold MBAs. For many who hope to cultivate diversity in leadership, supporting women in pursuing their graduate education can be a great first step. 

“Having a scholarship … allowed me to truly consider the best program for me, the best school for me and where I really felt at home,” says Natacha Arora, MBA 2020 and OWIB Scholarship recipient. “Knowing that someone believes in you enough to support you and donate is an incredible feeling.”

This year is particularly exciting for an event that is all about supporting future women in leadership. In November, Forte Foundation—a nonprofit that supports the advancement of women and gender parity in business school—recognized Olin Business School for leading business schools in achieving gender parity with 49% women enrolled. 

Having community support in the form of raising dedicated scholarship funds for women has historically made an impact in helping Olin achieve this level of enrollment by women. An anonymous past scholarship recipient recently shared how OWIB helped shape her experience at Olin and beyond: “I’m so grateful for the OWIB scholarship, and I couldn’t have attended Olin without this financial support. Four years ago I started the MBA program, and it transformed my life. Now two years into a major career pivot, I can see what doors OWIB’s funding opened for me—new abilities in self-confidence, critical inquiry, meaningful relationship-building, and exploration through global travel and learning.”

This year, the fundraiser has already benefited from the generosity of the Olin and greater St. Louis communities, receiving more than 60 donated auction items. OWIB is also welcoming back alumnus and professional auctioneer Curtis James, PMBA 40, for the live auction portion of the evening. Attendees will enjoy bidding on a variety of auction items including group culinary experiences, vacation getaways, wine tastings, and tickets for Blues and Cardinals games.

For those interested in supporting the Olin Women in Business Scholarship, the fundraising campaign will continue through International Women’s Day in March and donations will be accepted online at wustl.advancementform.com/campaign/owib. Together, we can all help women shine brighter as leaders of tomorrow.


In an earlier blog post, we shared information about the launch of the “Men as Allies” initiative by Olin Women in Business. This video features Julie Kellman and Gheremey Edwards, both MBA ’19, as they describe the reasons for starting the initiative, strategies for serving as an ally to women in the workplace, and their excitement for how well received the initiative was when it was launched in January.




OWIB

Julie Kellman, MBA ‘19, an officer with Olin Women in Business, wrote this post on behalf of the organization.

This semester, Olin Women in Business launched the Men As Allies initiative, an exciting expansion that invites men in the Olin community to join OWIB through an official membership track. I was honored to lead the kickoff event in January and I credit the Olin community with making my role that evening easy. The enthusiasm and willingness to listen, learn, and engage was contagious.

The kickoff drew a full house, with attendance reaching 20 percent of current Olin MBA students. OWIB members and officers led discussions to bring together women and men from the community to share experiences and discuss the state of gender equity at Olin and in the business community at large.

The initiative includes events focused on gender equity, action steps to combat unconscious bias, and a weekly newsletter to encourage ongoing engagement. Allies events are designed with two objectives in mind: to open lines of dialogue and create action steps.

We focus on two-way conversations in small groups to impart the often unspoken details of our experiences, whether as a woman in business or as an ally with good intentions. With open dialogue, we can navigate unfamiliar terrain together. Our primary goal is to build common ground and expose unconscious biases that are held by both men and women alike.

Beginnings of the Initiative

Last fall, OWIB recognized anecdotal interest in creating a community partnership with men on campus. Men in the Olin community approached OWIB seeking to learn ways to combat gender disparities in business. Together, we’ve launched the Men As Allies initiative to provide a clear path for engagement and everyone is welcome.

Our first step was to verify the interest through survey data, which showed a desire for small group discussions in which to digest gender equity in current events and share concrete steps to support women in our community and beyond.

At OWIB, our goal is to provide tools and a structured partnership between men and women to enable Olin members to fight for gender equity together. We need to normalize conversations of inclusion and gender equity in order to achieve meaningful cultural change.

What is an ally? An ally is someone who takes active steps to advocate for a group that is not their own. That can take many forms; I encourage you to explore what being an ally means to you and what steps you are comfortable and able to take. This is not a one-size-fits-all process and self-reflection is key.

Joining a Wider Movement

Right now is a great cultural moment for allies! We’re joining a movement. Olin Allies is partnering with MBA Allies, a coalition of student-initiated male-allyship groups at top business programs across the country.

Further, industry-leading firms such as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs have put their money where their mouth is and invested heavily in gender equity programs. For any ally, the annual McKinsey Women in the Workplace report is a great place to start (and a quick read!)

Since the kickoff, OWIB has introduced a weekly newsletter to encourage ongoing conversation. Each week, OWIB Allies sends an article on gender equity as it relates to the Olin community. Each topic is less than a seven-minute read—less time than the Starbucks line—to engage the community in consistent dialogue. (To subscribe, please contact OWIB through Campus Groups or email me at Jkellman@wustl.edu.)

As our new group gains momentum, we’re looking for more ways to engage the entire Olin community, involve faculty and staff, and update the curriculum to reflect the student body. Keep an eye out for future Men As Allies events on topics such as the business case for investing in women and topical forums for supporting inclusion in the workplace. Our next event is a screening of the movie Battle of the Sexes and discussion cohosted with Net Impact on March 20 from 3:30–6:00 p.m. in Hillman 230.

We are striving for a culture shift and we need all hands on deck to achieve that. I encourage you to continue this dialogue, both formally through the OWIB Men As Allies initiative and organically in your day to day life. The most fundamental action steps we can each take is to normalize conversations on gender equity, ask questions, and consistently cultivate an inclusive, intersectional mindset. At OWIB, we’re thrilled to provide a campus forum for gender equity allies to come together and amplify this crucial conversation.




Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18, president of Olin Women in Business, wrote this post on behalf of the organization.

Members of the OWIB auction 2018 planning committee.

Members of the OWIB auction 2018 planning committee: Paulina Owens,
Neelam Vyas, Perri Goldberg, Amanda Wald, and Emily Hereford.

Drinks were flowing, food was indulged in, Mardi Gras masks and beads were worn, bids were placed on a wide range of silent items, and paddles were waved in hopes of winning live auction items at the Olin Women in Business Auction.

The February 9 event continued an annual tradition, one of the organization’s biggest events of the school year. Through silent and live auctions, the event raises scholarship money for an incoming female Olin graduate student. Students are excited each year for this event and look forward to the items donated by many St. Louis businesses.

We fortunately received more than 60 individual donations from business around St. Louis, including restaurant gift cards, fitness memberships, entertainment tickets, handbags, SQL lessons, handcrafted art, museum memberships, overflowing pet and wine baskets, and much more.

“It was an honor to partner with classmates, faculty, and local businesses to host such a fun and festive event,” said Emily Hereford, MBA ’18. “I truly enjoyed carrying on the great legacy of OWIB.”

Tremendous community support

While the silent items are always a hit, the biggest sellers of the event are the live items donated by our beloved Olin faculty, staff, and the greater St. Louis community. This year, the live auction items included lunches and dinners with some of our favorite professors and staff at Olin, including a home-cooked meal by Dean Mark Taylor, lunch with HBM Holdings CEO Mike DeCola, a vacation home in Manhattan Beach, CA, a boxing party at SWEAT, a full box suite at the Chaifetz Center for the Lorde Concert, and many more tremendous items.

This event is a wonderful way for the Olin community to come together and have fun, while raising money for a good cause.

It is also the perfect event to reconnect with Olin alumni. This year, we had a good handful of alumni come to the event. I attribute this to our auctioneer, Curtis James, PMBA 40. Curtis, a third-generation auctioneer working in Las Vegas at the Venetian Casino Resort in Finance, attended the auction last year as a student and knew how great the event was.

When OWIB approached him about hosting the live auction, Curtis did not hesitate. We couldn’t have had a better addition to the event. I hope Curtis’s appearance as the auctioneer becomes an annual tradition as he showcased his true auctioneering skills.

OWIB’s vice president of major events, Emily Hereford, and first-year officer Paulina Owens spearheaded this year’s event. Neelam Vyas, GBSA president, provided the vision, creativity, and decorative concepts to execute the Mardi Gras theme. As president of Olin Women in Business, I was worried that I was going to need to plan this huge event by myself. The auction was on my mind since the day I was elected into the position.

I knew I needed to put someone in charge who could remain organized, calm, and would get our student body involved to execute this major event-which includes multiple moving pieces. With that being said, I could not have worked with better people. Emily, Paulina, and I created a very strong planning committee and volunteer committee for the night of and flawlessly executed this event. Without these individuals, the event would not have been as successful as it was. We all had fun planning the auction and even more fun during the actual event.

Amazing results

“Planning the auction was a wonderful way for me to connect with local businesses and expand the Olin brand while also raising money for a noble cause,” said Paulina Owens, MBA ’19.

OWIB’s first auction several years ago raised about $10,000. This year, we were able to raise about $17,000 solely from the auction. Combined with contributions from donors—thanks to marketing and communication surrounding the auction through Olin’s Alumni and Development department—this year’s event raised more than $43,000 for the Olin Women in Business Scholarship.

I personally want to thank Emily and Paulina for their dedication to the auction (and planning an awesome event), OWIB, and the Olin community. I also want to thank the Weston Career Center; Accenture, Emerson, and Edward Jones for their monetary contributions; all of the local St. Louis businesses for their silent and live auction donations; and all of the professors, faculty and staff for their live auction donations. You are what keeps this event going each year and we cannot thank you enough for your contributions.

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Olin’s application process is unique. As part of the admissions essay, we ask students to demonstrate how they will find their fit within the close-knit Olin community. We take pride in the fact that, at Olin, each student is a name, not a number. And one of our major key values is collaboration.

At Women’s Weekend, this sense of community was clear to see. As prospective students who had flown in from around the country eagerly sat in their seats, they witnessed current students, alumni and staff greet each other in what looked like a long overdue homecoming. Through exchanges of hugs and heartfelt conversation, the collaborative connections and sense of optimism was infectious. Prospective students felt engaged and excited to become part of the conversation, often craving more one-on-one time with the career center team, alumni members, and current students throughout the day.

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Some of our beloved alumni joined us for an alumni panel where they discussed their Olin experience and how it poised them for their careers at such companies as IBM, AB InBev, and Accenture.

While our time together was brief, we were able to pack a wide variety of programming into the schedule. This included hearing from a number of accomplished women in the Olin family: Mary Jo Gorman, Lead Managing Partner of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator, gave the keynote; Professor Hillary Anger Elfenbein spoke about women and negotiation; Cathy Dunkin, Lecturer in Business Management, led a case-based class. This gave the prospective students an inside glimpse into what life at Olin would be like.  Since many of the prospective students had never been to St. Louis, Olin graciously made it their mission to ensure Women’s Weekend would be synonymous with a relaxed, but informative, weekend of learning about Olin, Washington University, St. Louis, and life in the Midwest.

We are confident that our time getting to meet prospective students in person is beneficial to all parties. We are proud of our campus and our community and we enjoy sharing our school with talented people like those we met at Women’s Weekend.

Guest bloggers: Heather Reinhardt and Erin Ilic, both MBA ’17