Author: The CEL

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About The CEL

The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) provides students with the opportunity to engage in real-world, team-based consulting projects and experiences around the globe. Guided by distinguished faculty, students are able to deliver actionable results to organizations, develop skills as a life-long learners, and establish themselves as credible business and community leaders.


Jarrad Solomon during the CEL
Jarrad in traditional Japanese attire during his visit with the CEL GMS trip in 2018.

Jarrad in traditional Japanese attire during
his visit with the CEL GMS trip in 2018.

Jarrad Solomon, MBA ’19, wrote this blog post on behalf of the Center for Experiential Learning.

What makes a place unique? Well, experiencing Japan for the first time would perhaps make for a difficult answer; as soon as my classmates and I stepped off the plane in Tokyo, we were fully immersed in the sometimes overwhelming and chaotic sights and sounds: from the food and fashion to the culture and customs.

We began our GMS trip with cultural activities such as tea making, indulging in delectable foods in traditional settings like izakayas and shabu-shabus, and meeting with business leaders at leading global companies, including Bank of Japan and Geikkekan (sake anyone?).

We continued our journey with a stop in Nagoya, where we saw our core operations course come to life at Toyota’s first manufacturing plant. From there, we experienced more of the rich history and traditions that we learned about in the pre-trip course.

On the way to Kyoto, we stayed at a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan) with matted-rooms and hot springs and wore yukatas to dinner while singing karaoke. Once there, we continued to be immersed in the culture, wandering through the hilly, narrow streets lined with shops and food stalls on the way up to the famous temple Kiyomizu and shrine Fushimi Inari-taisha.

So back to the question at hand: What makes a place unique?

The entire gang on the 2018 Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.

The entire gang on the 2018 Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.

Upon our return, classmates back at Olin were eager to hear what we enjoyed most about the trip. A common refrain heard was omotenashi, the Japanese term for its welcoming hospitality. We experienced this hospitality first hand as soon as we stepped off the subway in search for our hotel.

Merely asking a local couple if they could point us in the right direction turned into them escorting us directly to our hotel doorstep. Halfway around the world, my classmates and I realized the answer to the question being posed: It’s the people.

The similarities between omotenashi and the culture at Olin Business School are evident through the wonderful people; they are what make Olin truly unique.

We all have lived and worked in different locales around the globe. However, immersing oneself in a culture with fellow classmates makes for a truly unforgettable experience, one that can’t be replicated without leaving the confines of the classroom.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with new eyes.” As our first year of the MBA program is winding down, I’m confident that the personal experiences and growth developed at Olin Business School will allow us to view our upcoming summer internships and beyond with a new perspective.

Pictured above: Jarrad Solomon during the CEL’s Global Management Studies trip to Japan in 2018.




Ben Rosenkranz, MSBA ’18, BSBA ’17, wrote this post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning.

Sports often connect people across regions and nations. Soccer is known as the world’s game and one CEL team got to experience this firsthand by traveling to Quito, Ecuador, to work with Independiente del Valle, an Ecuadorian soccer team competing in the country’s first division.

The CEL practicum student consulting team is helping Independiente capitalize on the momentum it gained following a Cinderella run to the final of the Copa Libertadores tournament in 2016 by building a new stadium, expanding its fan base, and increasing overall revenue. Learning about and getting immersed in the culture of fútbol and food helped them progress on their project.

We found it difficult to fully understand a client and a country simply through Google searches and a few Skype calls. Spending five days in Quito with our client gave us a much better perspective on how our client operates within the greater landscape of Quito.

Given that our project involves real estate—helping evaluate where in the region the team should build a stadium to optimize attendance growth and generate revenue—spending some quality time on the ground in Ecuador and seeing the stadium’s current location was imperative. We did our best to maximize the time we spent in the country. This led to many long days (and not as much sleep as we would have liked) as we jumped from presentations, to work sessions, to games and dinners with the client.

We started our trip with an extended presentation to the marketing team, but drastically refined it until our final meeting discussing our recommendations in front of the ownership group on our final day in Quito. In between, we experienced what it means to be a professional soccer club in Ecuador.

We spent time at the club’s impressive academy—it is said to be the second best in all of South America—we met academy and first-team players, coaches, and executives, and we spoke to anyone we came across about the current state of Ecuador soccer, politics, and culture.

Our faculty advisor, Juan Pablo Espinosa, seemingly knew everyone in the city. His introductions to his friends, family and colleagues, whether directly connected to Independiente or not, all provided us with further context on the opportunities and challenges of economic development in Ecuador.

We also immersed ourselves in Quito’s culture through our meals in local restaurants, long drives through beautiful valleys to the suburb where the team played, and visits to two vastly different soccer stadiums in the area. Through our travels, we developed a fondness for nata, a creamy Ecuadorian condiment, and an obsession with taxo, a fruit that looks like a cross between a banana and pomegranate.

We all improved our Spanish, testing it out when we appeared as guests on the club’s local radio show. We hopped in on a soccer scrimmage at the academy between the coaches and the trainers, and some of us showed them that Americans have a few fútbol skills as well.

In the end, we provided Independiente’s management team with four case studies of MLS teams that faced similar location and financing situations in the United States, providing a roadmap of references and best practices to follow when the final location is determined. The team was impressed with our progress at the halfway point, based on our presentation.

Going forward, we are looking to pivot a bit from the original scope to provide more directed recommendations based on the experience and knowledge we gained in Quito.

We were humbled to have the opportunity to represent the CEL and Olin in Ecuador and cannot wait to get started working on the second leg of our project, building on our current progress as seen by our client lead.

“We have had the opportunity to work in two projects with the CEL,” said Santiago Morales, CEO of Independiete Del Valle. “In both projects, we have received great ideas and valuable recommendations to increase fan engagement.”




Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19, submitted Yield Lab content; Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, edited and formatted this CEL blog post.

Many CEL Practicum students have the opportunity to travel internationally to understand business on a global scale. In contrast, The Yield Lab team has a unique experience to work with a local company headquartered in St. Louis that has global impact.

Part of this will include traveling to Dublin to see Yield Lab’s agriculture technology processes in action. The Yield Lab is a family of agricultural technology venture capital funds and accelerators that invest in innovative companies with the potential to sustainably increase food production globally.

“I’m interested in learning more about venture capital and how funds are managed and differ internationally. This is a great opportunity because of The Yield Lab’s international presence. I’m very happy to learn the venture capital structure specifically in Argentina and Ireland.” –Carola De La Torre Cuba

With the support from investors and experienced individuals who nurture startups in the agriculture industry, Yield Lab has recognized tremendous opportunity for growth globally. Since its inception, Yield Lab’s global reach has expanded quickly with additional funds established in Ireland and Argentina. As Yield Lab continues to expand its brand to various regions, an efficient and connected global management structure is vital.

Here’s Where CEL Comes In

The Yield Lab has engaged the Center for Experiential Learning team to address the challenges inherent in the current structure and explore the dynamics of Yield Lab’s expansion plans.

“The content around agricultural technology, venture capital, and how both of these work together is what interests me. I hope to enhance my leadership techniques and also learn from the team—especially with their unique skills and backgrounds.” –Sharon Mazimba

With the support of Washington University in St. Louis, the CEL Practicum team aims to provide The Yield Lab with a recommendation that will facilitate its goal of furthering global reach in agricultural technology venture capital funds and accelerators. The team will focus on developing a scalable structure as new locations join under the Yield Lab umbrella, thus helping the Yield Lab brand grow.

Leading The Yield Lab team is Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19. Sharon will serve as the project manager and main point of contact between the team and the client. The rest of the team—Carola De La Torre Cuba, MBA ’19; Rohan Kamalia, MBA ’18; Ashiq Cherian, SMP ’18; and Meredith Owen, MBA ’19—will serve as strategists to ground all recommendations in data.

“There is so much I want to learn from The Yield Lab and I’m excited to work with knowledgeable teammates. I believe learning does not only happen in the classroom, but is exemplified with experiential projects. Looking forward to learning more about teammates—their talents and specific interests.” –Rohan Kamalia

This team blends diverse cultural backgrounds stemming from Zambia, Peru, India, and the United States with an array of professional experience from doctoral level academia to strong finance and technology backgrounds. The strategic selection of The Yield Lab team exemplifies the breadth and depth of experience and values that the CEL and Olin Business School bring to our partner consulting companies. Each team member is coming in with his or her own purpose and sense of enthusiasm. Get to know the team a bit more here and learn more about their unique passions to create impact for the client.

“I’m excited to work with students in the MBA program, because I feel they bring a vast array of experience. Looking forward to exploring the details of how funds are managed internally and diving into the deal flow structure.” –Ashiq Cherian

“Traveling to Ireland and being able to travel internationally alongside my team is a huge plus! I am also fascinated by agricultural technology and the startup space. Excited to network in the agricultural technology space and create a valuable and meaningful solution for our client.” –Meredith Owen

Stay tuned to hear how their trip goes and how in-person meetings help students deliver impact in part two.




With our student consulting projects underway, we wanted to highlight the Center for Experiential Learning teams’ international footprint. This semester, 95 students are packing their bags to travel to five different continents through the CEL Practicum and Global Management Studies program.

From Ecuador to Uganda and India to Madagascar, there is Olin representation all over the globe. But what are these teams doing and how are they delivering business results to various clients?

Some teams are working with nonprofits to combat systemic issues in these regions. A healthcare consultant from Missouri, a software engineer and change maker from India, a globetrotting businessman from Vermont, and a combat medic from California are coming together to consult for a nonprofit in Africa.

The team is collaborating with Mavuno, an organization working to end extreme poverty in eastern Congo by developing “GOs,” or grassroots organizations. Part of their project is analyzing the demand of potential business ventures in Congo. Being on the ground will provide students with a better perspective of the culture, people, and business environment to pose actionable recommendations.

One team is working with a brewery to audit and understand the operations and financials of the company. In doing so, they will learn the inner workings of beer manufacturing and how the process differs from the United States to Germany. Coming from St. Louis, the team will have local knowledge to build upon.

While it is great to create international impact, many teams have the opportunity to consult with a client with operations that extend from St. Louis and abroad. These teams, including The Yield Lab and Missouri Botanical Gardens, will be able to see how local contributions can create impact for a global environment.

Beyond consulting with a singular client, the Global Management Studies teams are getting to dive right into other cultures and experience businesses through tours and travel. Two GMS trips are happening this semester – Japan and Colombia.

These students are taking on the role of being Olin ambassadors by building relationships with business executives and planning company visits. They have been planning for this through a class this past semester and will get to see it all come into fruition now.

So, whether you are passionate about supporting causes abroad or understanding business from an international lens, CEL has a place for you. We are excited to build student interest and global experiences to create business-learning opportunities. Stop into the CEL Hub (Simon 100) to see what programs, clients, or trips could align with your interests.




Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18 and CEL marketing student associate, writes on behalf of the Center for Experiential Learning.

Through the CEL Practicum, students have the unique opportunity to consult for companies on a global scale, from startups to Fortune 50 firms.

Professional MBA student Elise Hastings and a team of student consultants recently traveled to Mumbai to meet with their CEL Practicum client, ArtO2, an independent art organization aiming to increase the awareness of contemporary art practices. Elise reflects on the consulting process her team undertook in Mumbai, and why site visits are essential to project success:

What was the biggest takeaway from consulting in-person, rather than remotely?

Elise: It was extremely important that our team understood the context of our project by meeting with our clients in person. We met with all the stakeholders involved and were able to build a relationship. They treated us with immense kindness and respect. They helped show us the rich culture of the city and prioritized hospitality. We understood that relationship building and trust was important in the business culture there, and being with the clients in person greatly facilitated these interactions. We also met with some of the people our clients served, which made it easier for us to understand the challenges and opportunities of the organization and areas we could provide support.

What unique value did your team contribute to ArtO2?

Elise: Our team has a variety of skill sets and backgrounds–including law, accounting, strategic planning, nonprofit fundraising, and social enterprise consulting. We were excited to work with a relatively younger and smaller organization like Art Oxygen, because we could play a larger role in structuring the organization for growth. With our group’s skills, we can support a lot of the strategic planning and organizational structuring that can best position ArtO2 to grow their impact and reach sustainability.

                        

What were the most rewarding—and most challenging—aspects of working with your client?

Elise: It was a great opportunity to work with a group of passionate individuals that are attempting to bring contemporary art to Mumbai and build an arts infrastructure in a rapidly urbanizing city. We enjoyed building connections and understanding the process of creating an international consulting relationship. Although this relationship-building experience was rewarding, it was challenging to achieve. Being in a new place and cultural landscape over just a short timeframe, it was difficult to build that base of trust and understanding. Throughout this process, we enjoyed witnessing the impact of their work and learning how we as a group could help the organization grow that impact.

A special thanks to our partners at IIT Bombay, our IIT Bombay-WashU Research and Educational Academy family, and most especially, Executive MBA alumni Ravi Vishnu and Saurabh Shrivastava for their support in making this project happen.

Learn more about the CEL Practicum experience on the CEL’s website.


The Olin/United Way Board Fellows program provides impact to the St. Louis community by placing students as voting members on a nonprofit board for an academic year—and requiring them to consult on an important project for the agency.

“Olin/United Way Board fellows’ hard work and innovative thinking is an asset to the nonprofit community and the many people across our region,” said Orvin Kimbrough, president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis.

Orvin Kimbrough speaks with Olin/United Way Board Fellows students.

Since its start with nine United Way agencies in 2010, the program has engaged with 82 unique agencies and immersed 266 graduate students on a board for the 12-month experience.

“The board fellows program allows our students to build a professional network, learn best practices in governance, and begin building their lifelong passion for community service,” said Al Kent, program director.

Al Kent, Program Director for Olin/United Way Board Fellows presenting to nonprofit partners.

With more than 42,500 hours of impact to the St. Louis area, the program’s graduate students not only have engaged with the board on making pivotal decisions for our community, but also have engaged with consulting project for the nonprofit.

“My board fellow’s dedication and persistence is helping us improve our board recruitment, orientation, engagement, and continuing education practices,” said Mary Rogers, executive director for Sherwood Forest, which connect with, educates, and inspires low-income and underserved youth in the St. Louis area.

Learn more about Scott Diamond’s, MBA ’17, and Paul Kirbach’s, PMBA 38, journey as a board member of their nonprofit board experience through our video (above).

Olin/United Way Board Fellows serve boards as a voting member and are responsible for executing a project designed to provide lasting social impact. Interested? Learn more on the CEL’s website.