Student Life

Friday, May 19, we celebrated the professional growth and accomplishments of more than 500 students graduating in the Centennial year. Check out photos from the graduation recognition ceremonies.
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The first morning meeting on May 15 was at Warburg Pincus. Warburg Pincus is one of the top quartile Private Equity (PE) firms, whose value added is mainly from the growth of companies in which it invests. Firstly, he introduced the fundamentals of private equity. Basically, there are three stages of PE firms, which are venture capital, growth/development, and late stage. Warburg Pincus mainly invests in the growth stage. The return of PE is always from two factors—high leverage and fees. Additionally, as the industry becomes mature, the market is more and more specialized. By working for the whole portfolio’s good rather than the sector’s own benefit, Warburg Pincus manages to offset the disadvantage of specialization.

The second speaker was from Lepercq De Neuflize & Co. He started the presentation with a general introduction of the financial market and a quick survey about potential job positions among students. As finding a job is the very first thing after graduation, he quickly drew our attention. He then introduced two kinds of people: ones who are smart, and ones who have relationships. Focusing on these two kinds of people, he proceeded with lessons that are important all long a career path, and challenges that these people may face in the future. Also, he answered questions concerning career paths, and pointed out possible ways to get the dream job. Corporate treasury, though few of us considered it as a target job during the survey, became a new choice for us after the presentation. The speaker emphasized the importance of getting to know the industry sector and corporate treasury can provide experience and insights if you cannot find a better way.

The last speaker was Professor Steve Wood from Seton Hall University. He introduced public finance investment banking to us. He began with Simon Sinek’s simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership — starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?,” Steve encouraged us to find the root of a problem and think deeply. Firstly, we learned about the four borders of business, which are national laws, ethical moral standards, international law, and business best practices. Then we compared different attitudes about social contracts through the movie The Godfather. When it comes to national power and corporate power, we concluded that today’s global companies are super citizens by analyzing HNA Group.

Next, Steve shared a typical case with us: the City of Flint, Michigan’s Water Crisis. In April 2014, Flint decided to change its water source from Detroit to the Flint River to decrease government financial expense. However, the water contamination of the Flint River caused serious health issues for Flint residents. Officials failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. As a result, there was a series of problems that culminated with lead contamination, creating a serious public health danger.

Finally, we discussed who was to blame in this event and discussed the many lessons we learned from this case. Actually, the root of this problem is that the structure of city-state-federal can cause overlapping and disjointed jurisdictions. The implementation problem made Flint residents have to suffer the pain of diseases caused by polluted water until recently, which reminded us of the great importance of public finance management.

Guest Bloggers: Siwei Chen, Mohan Hong, Chenyi Xu, Mengdi Zhang (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience.

Hank Cummings, a double major in music and business, opened the all University Commencement ceremony in Brookings Quad this morning by singing “America the Beautiful.”

Commencement Speaker Anna Quindlen

More than 3,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree candidates and their friends and families defied cloudy skies and predictions of rain to fill the Quad where best-selling author Anna Quindlen delivered this year’s Commencement address.

In addition to Quindlen, other speakers included Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton, the senior class president, Reid Petty, from Mendham, N.J., BSBA’17, is a marketing major delivered the undergraduate student Commencement greeting, and Wei Zhu, a candidate for a juris doctoris from the  School of Law, was selected to give the graduate student address. She is from Hunan Province, China.

The 3,089 candidates at Washington University’s 156th Commencement will receive 3,245 degrees, of which 1,490 are undergraduate, 1,751 are graduate and professional, and four are associates in arts.

There are 600 doctoral candidates, including 132 for the doctor of philosophy degree from the Graduate School; one for the doctor of business administration degree from the Olin Business School; 242 for the juris doctoris degree from the School of Law; two for the juris scientiae doctoris degree from the School of Law; and 223 for degrees from the School of Medicine.

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Contrary to the size of the crowd at Olin’s Centennial Gala in April, not everyone in the Olin community could be in St. Louis for the celebration. So, Professor Kurt Dirks decided to take the celebration to his Executive MBA students in Mumbai.

Dirks, the Bank of America Professor of Leadership, packed a few extra centennial t-shirts in his bag when he traveled to India last week to teach Batch (class) 2 in the joint program with IIT-Bombay. “They are extremely proud of being Olin students,” Dirks reported. “They all showed up to class the next day wearing their Olin t-shirts! Very cool to experience.”

So, of course, they had to take a photo and share it on social media. Thanks, Batch 2 EMBAs for wearing your Olin pride on your sleeves, literally!!

Where have you been wearing your Olin100 t-shirt recently? Tweet us or share on Instagram or Facebook with #Olin100


Reid Petty has been President of the Class of 2017 since sophomore year and before he graduates, he will address his classmates, and thousands of guests and graduate students in Brookings Quad at Commencement. The Source talked to Reid who is an Olin marketing major about what he plans to say and his post-graduation plans in the advertising industry.

Why did you decide on a career in advertising?

Growing up, I was always plopped in front of the TV with my family. That’s how we bonded — watching “The Office,” “Lost” and probably some questionable stuff like “The Sopranos.” I loved the shows, but I also loved the ads. I would challenge myself to come up with a better ad than the one I saw on TV.  It clicked that this is what I should do with my life. Last summer, I worked at Team One, an advertising firm in Los Angeles, where I wrote copy that will appear in an upcoming Lexus ad. And after graduation, I will be working in the Chicago office of DigitasLBI in a dual project management and account management role. I also studied film at WashU and I am hoping, at some point, to merge these two loves by going into advertising for film.

You spent a summer in Copenhagen and a semester in Singapore. How did your study-abroad experiences impact your education?

Those experiences are some of the best things that ever happened to me. In Copenhagen, I took a class on the Roskilde Festival, the world’s largest nonprofit music festival. We learned about festival management and festival culture. It concluded with us spending a week at the festival where we were just immersed in Danish culture. The week shaped my understanding of what it means to travel, to get outside of your comfort zone and discover new people and places. I then chose to go to Singapore because I wanted a totally different experience, and I loved it. Being abroad is challenging, fun, sometimes lonely and always exciting.

So what words of wisdom will you be sharing with graduates?

I’m 22 years old. I don’t have that much wisdom to offer to my peers. But I have thought a lot about why this place is so special. And it comes down to the people. And sure, you could say that about a lot of universities. But I found this school very different than the other ones I visited. As a tour guide, I would talk about the campus culture here — that Washington University is super-collaborative and very friendly. And I think that imparting those words on visiting students gives them the idea that this is a very welcoming place. And they make it so. Their expectations shape reality. And so this sense of community is passed down from class to class. For us seniors, it may feel like it’s all ending, but it’s not. This community will stay with us wherever we go in life.

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