Tag: Alumni

For International Women’s Day, Olin celebrated the successes of professional women who have faced challenges and made an impact. This year’s panel included women from a wide spectrum of lived experiences who exemplify the talent, drive and leadership women bring to the workplace.

Building on the IWD’s #EmbraceEquity theme, the panel shared stories, lessons learned, business philosophies and how their values have affected their decision-making.

The panelists were:

Darci Darnell, BSBA 1994, partner and global head of the customer sales and marketing practice, Bain & Company;

Laurie Hiler, EMBA 1996, project lead/coordinator, CGB Women’s Leadership Development and Mentoring Program;

Ann Marr, vice president of Global Human Resources at World Wide Technology;

Lakesha Mathis, director, Diverse Business Accelerator, Greater St. Louis Inc.

Staci Thomas, professor of practice in communications, moderated the March 8 event.

Olin Business School will honor three distinguished alumni on Friday evening, April 21. They are Chris Bloise, BSBA 1997, Lal Karsanbhai, MBA 1995, and Ari Lewine, BSBA 2009. Please register here to join the celebration.

The Distinguished Alumni Award is a tradition—now in its 36th year—in which Olin recognizes the accomplishments of outstanding alumni who have become leaders in their community and have attained distinction in their careers. Those who are honored embody the core values of vision, innovation and leadership and have each made a positive impact on business and the communities in which they live and serve.

Chris Bloise, BSBA 1997

Chris Bloise serves as president and managing partner at Court Square Capital in New York City. Bloise joined the firm in 2003, focused on technology and communications investments. He currently serves on the boards of GoEngineer, Momentum Telecom, Smart City and Virtium.

Bloise previously served on the boards of AHEAD, Connatix, Conterra Ultra Broadband, Encompass Digital Media, Fibertech Networks, IWCO Direct, Mosaic Sales Solutions, nTelos, SPS, System1 and Thrive.

He received his BSBA, summa cum laude, from Washington University in St. Louis and his MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Lal Karsanbhai, MBA 1995

Lal Karsanbhai is president and chief executive officer of Emerson. He was named CEO of the $18.2 billion global technology and industrial software leader based in St. Louis in 2021. Under his leadership, the company is modernizing its culture and transforming into a global automation leader advancing sustainability, safety and productivity for the world’s most essential industries.

Karsanbhai began his career at Emerson in 1995 as an international planner and has held global roles of increasing responsibility for strategic growth, technology investment and digital transformation innovation. His global career has taken him from St. Louis to France and London.

He serves on the boards of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and the US-China Business Council. He is a member of Business Roundtable and The Business Council.

Karsanbhai has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Ari Lewine, BSBA 2009

Ari Lewine is the co-founder of TripleLift and from 2012-2022 served as its chief strategy officer. TripleLift is one of the world’s largest advertising technology firms and a pioneer in native programmatic advertising. TripleLift has been named an Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Company in America for five years in a row. Lewine led TripleLift’s direction on sales, strategy and product innovation. Vista Equity Partners acquired the company in 2021.

Previously, Lewine served as head of the performance sales team at AppNexus. He started his business endeavors at 17 as co-owner and CEO of University Trucking, which has been operated by WashU students since 1977. He was named Forbes “30 Under 30” for his contributions to the online advertising industry.

He holds a BSBA in finance and entrepreneurship from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Pictured at top, from left: Chris Bloise, Lal Karsanbhai and Ari Lewine.

Franklyn Nnakwue, MBA 2020, looking into the camera, wearing a light green open-collar shirt on a light purple sofa with plants behind him.

Next in a series of Olin Blog features on recent alumni.

Franklyn Nnakwue, MBA 2020, has fond memories of—and continues to make great use of—several courses he took while he was a student at WashU Olin. And a major lesson from the pandemic serves him well: be adaptable.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I manage market P&L and provider partnerships for Oscar Health. The Olin education has prepared me to lead teams and leverage data-driven processes to solve problems.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

It is tough to choose as Olin is comprised of excellent teachers and enriching courses. I particularly enjoyed the Introduction to Management Strategy and the Competitive Industry Analysis classes by Dan Elfenbein and Stephen Ryan. I have found the Negotiations Class taught by Hilary Elfenbein and the Game Theory class taught by Mariagiovanna Baccara very helpful in my career.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?

I try to grab time with colleagues whenever I visit a new city where my classmates are domiciled. We also have an online group to stay in touch. I also attend virtual Olin events such as the Healthcare Symposium whenever I can. Recently, I was part of a group of alums who supported the Weston Career Center to provide interview coaching to first-year students.

Why is business education important?

Business education provides an unmatched opportunity to meet and learn from ambitious and bright colleagues, gain new exposure from faculty and classmates and develop the leadership skills necessary to make a global impact.

What advice would you give current Olin students?

I’d advise them to be insatiably curious, build deep relationships and have fun along the way.

How has the pandemic influenced your thinking about doing business locally or globally—or your career?

My biggest lesson from the pandemic is that only the adaptable survive. It was Max McKeown who said, “All failure is failure to adapt, all success is successful adaptation.” Leaders had to quickly adapt to a rapidly changing environment and embrace new work paradigms to comply with public health measures and keep their businesses running. Looking back, it is incredible to think about how we acclimatized to new ways of working and living in such a short time. These days, I find myself asking, “Which pervasive behavior are we clinging to due to tradition even though it can easily be supplanted by technology? What needs to change for us to realize this on a massive scale? Can this change be engineered? What will this potential reality mean for business and culture?”

Brian Whorley, MBA 2011. Tight headshot wearing dark shirt against a white background.

The following is from a news release by healthcare industry startup Paytient, founded by Brian Whorley, PMBA 2012. The release was dated January 10, 2023. 

Paytient, the creator and leading provider of health payment accounts, announced a $40.5 million Series B funding round, bringing the company’s total funding to $63 million. The funds, consisting of $33 million in equity from new and existing investors and $7.5 million in debt from Silicon Valley Bank, will be used to scale growth and product development in 2023 and beyond.

“Few people plan on getting sick, and even fewer are immune to the financial impact of unexpected out-of-pocket healthcare costs,” Brian Whorley, co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Over 15 years in hospital administration, I saw how challenging this was for patients, providers, and employers.”

Leading the funding round: Utah-based Mercato Partners Traverse Fund, with participation from Bertelsmann Investments. They were joined by existing investors Lightbank, Felicis Ventures, Box Group, Lachy Groom, Left Lane Capital, Commerce Bank, Crossbeam Ventures, Cultivation Capital and Inspired Capital, which led Paytient’s Seed and Series A rounds. Mercato Partners Traverse Fund managing director, Joe Kaiser, joins the company’s board of directors and Thorsten Wirkes of Bertelsmann Investments joins the board as an observer.

Founded in 2018, Paytient partners with employers and insurers to empower Americans to more easily pay out-of-pocket healthcare costs that too often feel out of reach. Paytient’s HPAs provide a new source of funds—interest-free credit on a Visa card—and an app that allows cardholders to set up flexible repayment plans that fit their budget.  

“Fundamentally, we believe the healthcare journey deserves its own financial products that enable equitable access to care,” Whorley said. “Our platform gives patients the power to control when and how they pay medical expenses in a way that’s good for their own wellbeing.”

In partnership with Commerce Bank, the Paytient platform enables employers to provide a low-cost, flexible benefit that creates a better experience around paying for care that supports their strategic workforce objectives.

“Paytient is really a healthcare company built on empathy,” Whorley said. “We hear from people leaders who pride themselves on giving their employees a more dignified and less stressful way to take care of their families.”

Tony Cheng, PMBA 2002

The following is an adapted from a news release issued January 4, 2023, by Chesterfield, Missouri-based Reinsurance Group of America.

Tony Cheng, PMBA 2002, has been appointed president at RGA effective January 4, 2023, succeeding Anna Manning, who remains CEO.

Consistent with her long-held plans, Manning will retire as CEO on December 31, 2023. The board plans to appoint Cheng as CEO effective January 1, 2024. The RGA board appointed him to the board of directors effective immediately.

Reinsurance Group of America specializes in life and health reinsurance and financial solutions that help clients effectively manage risk and optimize capital. RGA celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

Board chair Stephen O’Hearn expressed his gratitude for Manning’s leadership over the past six years—particularly through the challenges of the pandemic. He said the board was confident Cheng was “the right person to lead RGA into the future.”

“It was important to the board that we identify someone who combines vision with experience, capable of leading RGA in delivering on our financial targets and fulfilling our purpose,” O’Hearn said in the company’s statement. “Tony has clearly demonstrated these qualities, as well as a passion for RGA that gives us confidence that he will continue RGA’s rich legacy.”

Cheng was previously executive vice president, head of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Asia, and Australia. Prior to this role, he spent seven years as executive vice president, head of Asia following his success as the senior vice president, Asia region, and CEO of RGA’s Hong Kong branch. Under Cheng’s leadership, the Asia region has experienced exceptional growth in both premiums and profits. He will continue to provide executive leadership to Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Asia, and Australia while assuming his new responsibilities as president, and plans to relocate to St. Louis.

“Tony’s tireless contributions over the years, combined with his strong leadership, his relentless client focus, and his innovative capabilities, make him uniquely situated to lead the company into the next phase of its strategy,” Manning said in the statement. “I am highly confident in the future of RGA under Tony’s leadership.”

Prior to Manning, another WashU Olin alum, Greig Woodring, served as RGA’s CEO. Woodring earned his MBA in 1989 and was honored as a distinguished alum in 2002.

For his part, Cheng said in the statement that he was humbled to follow in Manning’s and Woodring’s footsteps at the company where he has dedicated his career.

“I am fully committed to continuing the legacy built by Anna and Greig, and with the help of the tremendously talented people at RGA, I know we can build on the special culture and growth engine that has been created,” he said.