Tag: Alumni

Jeff Gibson, MBA

Jeff Gibson saw 200,000 service members transitioning from the military to the civilian workforce each year—and he saw an opportunity. Leveraging his own 10 years as a Navy SEAL, 15 years as a government recruiting contractor—and a hefty dose of artificial intelligence technology—the WashU Olin alumnus is streamlining the way veterans match their skills with employers.

Gibson—who received his WashU MBA in 2002 and cofounded the Olin Veterans Association—is one of the entrepreneurs behind Oplign, an online recruiting site that helps vets find prospective opportunities with a few mouse clicks based on regimented data associated with their military training and work assignments.

The company also helps clients such as Verizon—which Gibson says gets 500 applications each day from veterans—sift through the prospects to find candidates who truly match the qualifications for their various openings.

“They have no way of sorting through those in a reasonable manner,” Gibson said. He said their director of military hiring works with 20 recruiters, but they can’t see everybody. “It’s a way for them to improve their applicant experience. They can say why candidates are not qualified— or what they are qualified for.”

Gibson credits his time at Olin for opening the path for where he is today. “Olin led me to one step, which led me to another, which led me to another,
charting his path from the military to a Fortune 500 employer and then back to applying his skills as an entrepreneur focused on hiring vets.

Supply and demand for hiring

On the applicant side, Oplign (“opportunities align”) simplifies the process by inviting job seekers to walk through a few simple screens to enter their service information. For example, with a handful of clicks, a vet can indicate they served eight years in the Marines, achieving the rank of E5, with a “military occupation code” indicating logistics experience.

A few more clicks can highlight a service member’s security clearance, special training opportunities and other pertinent experience. Behind the scenes, Oplign uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to translate that vet’s military experience into the language of civilian employers—highlighting the skills and experience relevant to recruiters. In 60 seconds, the applicant is done. Job openings matching the vet’s skills appear on the screen.

“There are really only about 30 things the labor market thinks are important for accounting,” Gibson said. Meanwhile, Oplign’s algorithm identifies about 15 skills and experiences employers value when looking at HVAC technicians.

On the recruiting side, Oplign scrapes websites for job opportunities—and directly links to client sites such as Verizon, American Electric Power in the Ohio River Basin, Pike Electric, aviation companies such as MAG Aerospace and a small number of government contractors. That’s where Oplign generates its revenue.

“Companies can see instantly whether candidates are qualified,” he said.

Ready to break out in the industry?

Gibson said military hiring represents a $1 billion market—one Oplign is only beginning to tap. In its third year of operation, Gibson and his cofounders have bootstrapped the company, which has $1 million in annual revenue. “The first year, we were proving the tech. The second year, we started getting customers. The third year, we feel we’re about ready to break out,” Gibson said. “We just picked up some pretty big customers who like what we’re doing.”

The focus on military hiring derives from the experience of Gibson and his cofounders, all veterans. After serving as in Navy, he worked three years at 3M and felt the call to return to more direct work with the military after 9/11. He worked for a recruiting firm, fulfilling federal government hiring contracts by filling roles for agencies such as the Department of Defense, State Department, Drug Enforcement Agency and the CIA.

“The military hiring market is a good place for us to prove our system,” he said. “A military resume is even more confusing than a regular resume with all the acronyms.”

And while the resume is the currency job seekers barter for opportunities, Gibson sees it as a barrier his firm’s technology can sweep away.

“We’re trying to get rid of the resume. You spend so much time trying to put the right information there, tailoring it to each job—and leaving out so many other skills,” he said. “We pull information from the individual. We help them build their own online resume—one that’s important to the labor market, not one that they think is important.”

Pictured above: Jeff Gibson, MBA ’02, with his wife, Karen.

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 Dean Meyer, EMBA ’15, director of product management group, Duke Manufacturing Co.

Halfway through his twenty-month EMBA program, Dean Meyer switched employers and made a big advance in his career. He did that by taking advantage of the career coaching services that were integrated into the EMBA program.

The career boost was in big part because of his work with Frans VanOudenallen, Lee Konczak and Mary Houlihan, who acted as, and continue to serve as, coaches and mentors.

“The three of them are extremely connected, extremely learned. They help you recognize your strengths and find your untapped potential,” Meyer said. “I wasn’t thinking of myself as a global business leader, but as I started to recount with them, listing things off, it became almost embarrassingly obvious that I didn’t see it for myself.”

Meyer said he continues to benefit from the strong EMBA network with members willing to help each other. “At Olin, it’s very intimate, heavily engaged and delivers top-notch results.”

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

This press release was initially posted on REJournals.

McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. has promoted Erin Valentine (EMBA ’08) to the position of Vice President of Business Development in the company’s 28-state Central Region.

In addition to joining the leadership team that guides McCarthy’s strategic business operations across the Central Region, Valentine will manage McCarthy’s St. Louis-based business development team that focuses on the company’s core buildings markets of Healthcare, Commercial, Education and Advanced Technology and Manufacturing.

Since joining McCarthy in 2001, Valentine has helped position the company to secure numerous new projects while building valuable relationships with clients and industry partners. Her business development successes are visible throughout the St. Louis region, including the recently awarded Washington University School of Medicine Neuroscience research facility and a multiyear facilities contract with Parkway School District.

She was also instrumental in McCarthy’s national expansion into the federal government sector, helping to secure more than $3 billion in federal projects over a five-year period.

Valentine is a founding member of the McCarthy Partnership for Women employee resource group in the Central Region and has served on several national efforts, including McCarthy’s Business Development Leadership team. In addition, she has overseen several national McCarthy initiatives to strengthen the company’s client relationships, including the implementation of an enhanced customer relationship management (CRM) system and the rollout of a client feedback process to solicit ongoing feedback from project partners.

A LEED Green Associate, Valentine earned a bachelor’s degree from Saint Louis University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She has been recognized as a “40 under 40” business leader by the St. Louis Business Journal, a “Top Young Professional” by Engineering News Record (ENR) – Midwest and a “Women in Construction” innovator by Constructech. She is a member of the St. Louis Forum and is a board member of the St. Louis chapters of the International Facility Management Association (IFMA) and Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW).

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 Evan Waldman, EMBA ’09,CEO, Essex Industries

Two years after Evan Waldman graduated with his Executive MBA, his company, Essex Industries, engaged Olin’s Anjan Thakor, director of doctoral programs and John E. Simon Professor of Finance, to help establish a base for its strategic planning.

“There were three of us on the executive team who had been through the Executive MBA program. We were excited to work with the business school—particularly Anjan Thakor,” said Waldman, who had taken a strategy course with Thakor and was happy to reconnect.

“We wanted to update our strategic plan and we really didn’t have a process for it at the time,” he said. “Anjan was a good resource to help us establish a solid foundation and common vernacular. He also worked with us to level set on where we were and where we wanted to head.”

Waldman continues to draw on Olin and its resources —particularly the faculty expertise and their network of real-world companies and case studies.

“They also know the theoretical and academic approaches, which can be provocative to those who are tied up in the day-to-day realities,” Waldman said.

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

Dr. Ashley Jacob, EMBA Mumbai 2017, installed a plastic sheet between patients and clinicians to protect health and save substantial amounts of money previously used to equip his staff with PPE.

Three days after Dr. Ashley Jacob complied with public health regulations and shuttered his eye clinic, he petitioned to reopen. The need for emergency ophthalmology assistance continued, even with the quarantine, as neighbors in the Indian state of Kerala occupied themselves by clearing brush, gardening and staring into screens.

Dr. Ashley Jacob

Then the WashU Olin EMBA alum confronted another problem. His patients only pay about 100 rupees—about $1.32—for their emergency eye exams. Yet he and his staff were spending 33 times as much to don the face shields, masks, gloves and gowns the new coronavirus-inspired safety protocols demanded.

That was in late March. At his emergency eye clinic, the only one in the southwestern edge of India at the time, he was seeing 50 patients a day and the cost was adding up.

“I was thinking, ‘What can I do about this?’” recalled Jacob, EMBA ’17. “I have to see the patient’s eyes and the solution has to be reasonably good optical quality.”

The solution turned out to be available at a local hardware store: A large clear plastic sheet that he could buy for about $33. Bolted and glued to the floor, ceiling and walls, the sheet divides his examination rooms in half. A patient sits on one side of the divide while Jacob’s technicians aim their examination equipment through the barrier into the patient’s eyes.

“This is frugal engineering,” said Jacob, who used the Indian word juggad—a cheap workaround—to describe his innovation. In other words, he “MacGyvered” it.

“We have tested it. Nothing passes through,” Jacob said. “We fumigate the whole thing after a patient visits. That is an operation room protocol. What is done on the operating table is being done in this room.”

He said the patients seem to be delighted with the solution as well because they don’t want to do anything to endanger the health of their healthcare providers. Jacob has shared what he’s done with doctors at other eye clinics around the country now that more of them are allowed to open.

“Many have started implementing this,” he said. “Many had not opened their clinics because of the expense.”

Pictured above: One of Dr. Jacob’s assistants examines a patient’s eyes through the plastic barrier he had installed.