Tag: Alumni

A collage of images from different years of the Olin Blog commemorating its 10th anniversary.

With a lovely evening shot of Simon Hall and a sparkling video outlining the strategy behind this new initiative, the Olin Blog debuted 10 years ago today. Since then, WashU Olin Business School has opened two new buildings—Bauer Hall and Knight Hall. Two business school deans (and one interim) have come and gone. Nearly 12,000 students have graduated from Olin’s programs—from undergraduate to doctoral.

And since that first post on November 30, 2012, writers for the Olin Blog have contributed nearly 3,200 stories documenting the heartbeat of the school—stories of alumni and student accomplishments, stories of school innovations and advancements, stories of marriage and stories of tragedy.

“I’m always interested in what sets Olin apart, what makes us unique,” said Paula Crews in the debut video. At the time, she was associate dean and director of Olin marketing and communications. Today, she’s Olin’s interim chief of staff and senior associate dean and director of strategy and marketing. “We know the real power lies in connecting our audiences with our Olin personalities—storytellers if you will. We see a real opportunity to bring to life what makes Olin unique.”

To celebrate 10 years of the Olin Blog, we’re highlighting 10 posts—one for each year. They might not have been the most-read posts for the year. Just posts that grabbed our attention.

2012-13: “Through the giving of others”

“Seniors shake it up with the chancellor.” This April 18, 2013, post speaks of students launching a senior gift campaign with a video doing the Harlem Shake with then-Chancellor Mark Wrighton. Alas, while the post remains, the video itself has been lost.

2013-14: “Flying over the towers”

“Drone captures campus video.” This August 6, 2014, post highlights drone video soaring over campus and spotlighting Olin’s new buildings.

2014-15: “Midwestern sensibilities”

“Alum launches clothing line.” This very simple and very short post from August 12, 2015, proved to be very popular with a lot of readers as Jimmy Sansone, BSBA 2010, launched his company.

2015-16: “We were kind of freaking out”

“A chance encounter with Tom Cruise.” In a February 15, 2016, post, then Olin BSBA student Colin Wells shared the brief meetup with Hollywood royalty at a London pub.

2016-17: “Humbleness and sincerity”

“Our lunch with Warren Buffett.” In a January 17, 2017, post, Nina Gerson, then a senior finance major, shared the experience of meeting the Oracle of Omaha with her classmates.

2017-18: “The means to give back”

“Alum’s donation launches ‘business of the arts’ minor.” It was an April 15, 2018, blog post that broke news about this new business minor, funded by Richard Ritholz, BSBA ’84, his wife, Linda, and inspired by their daughter’s experience in the arts.

2018-19: “Wonderful memories, meaningful experiences”

“They found love in a business place.” This time it was former Bollywood royalty that sparked massive interest in the blog on February 14, 2019. The story documented the romance of former actress Richa Gangopadhyay and Joe Langella, both MBA 2017.

2019-20: “OK, what’s next?”

“Out of a job because of COVID-19, EMBA finds support at Olin.” Carolyn Feltner, EMBA 50, shared her troubling experience with a COVID-related job loss and a fulfilling experience with Olin career services in a post on May 7, 2020.

2020-21: “Honored by this opportunity”

“From intern to CEO: Nina Leigh Krueger named first woman to lead Nestlé Purina PetCare.” We don’t often have a story like this to share. Krueger, MBA 1994, first set foot in Purina as an intern in 1993.

2021-22: “You have to live your life”

“Justin Hardy, BSBA ’21, plays WashU basketball while fighting stage 4 stomach cancer.” This tragic story, published on the blog January 28, 2022, drew global attention—a tribute to Hardy’s grit and determination. Hardy died May 29, 2022.

Robert Berke, BSBA 2017, works at JetBlue Airways

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

As a member of JetBlue’s financial planning and analysis team, Robert Berke, BSBA 2017, has helped the company weather some tough times during the course of the pandemic. And he’s also set up to make visits around the country as he connects with Olin friends—and keeps that fantasy football league going. Here’s an update since graduating—and an overview of the value he found in WashU Olin’s coursework.

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

I work at JetBlue Airways in New York. I’m on the financial planning and analysis team and manage a staff that supports the near- and long-term planning, reporting and modeling of JetBlue’s cost structure. While JetBlue doesn’t have an airline presence in St. Louis (it has always been on my wish list when talking to the team that decides where we fly!), my education at Olin has certainly had a positive impact on my career.

The core business curriculum in the BSBA program, paired with my majors in finance and accounting, allowed me to have a strong foundation for working in a fast-paced environment, while also having a deep understanding of financial modeling and scenario planning. The Weston Career Center also played a major role in my career development as I was able to easily connect with alums working in the industry.

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

While there was no one course that influenced my life the most, as so many courses at Olin were impactful, I would say that Durai Sundaramoorthi’s Managerial Statistics class and Mark Soczek’s Financial Statement Analysis class were extremely influential.

First, in Managerial Statistics, I not only learned the basics of descriptive statistics and probability distributions, but I also learned the business application of statistics. Dr. Durai seamlessly showed the class how meaningful data analysis is and encouraged students to leverage analytical tools to make informed business decisions.

As a finance and accounting major, I found Professor Soczek’s FSA class particularly fascinating. He brought real-world examples to class, which allowed us to learn how to process and evaluate financial statement information to identify profitability or possible risks a company may face. This has been helpful in my current role at JetBlue, a public company, as my team lends support during our quarterly financial reporting process. I think back to Professor Soczek’s class and appreciate how external players look to these statements to identify potential investments.

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

I love staying engaged with WashU and Olin. I stay in contact with a few Olin professors and always appreciate their openness to reconnect. I’m also involved in WashU’s Alumni and Parents Admissions Program, which has allowed me to stay up to speed with the incredible developments at the university, interview prospective students and engage with other alums.

What’s great about my friends from Olin is that they’re living in different parts of the country. I love traveling to visit them and we, of course, have kept our fantasy football league going.

Why is business education important?

Studying business is key. A business education sets students up for success to tackle issues in today’s dynamic world. What’s special about studying business is the opportunity to use real-life examples through case studies. In a collaborative environment that promotes participation, students are able to work through these tricky problems and learn fundamental practices from experts in the field. A business education also provides important communication skills that are useful beyond a professional career. 

What advice would you give current Olin students?

I would encourage students to pursue their passion and leverage the Olin community to do so. Whether it’s through taking courses outside of your comfort zone or chatting with a professor you haven’t met, the Olin community is there for your support. I’d also encourage students to study abroad. Today’s business world is extremely global and Olin’s abroad programs allow undergraduate students to experience this firsthand.

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

So many businesses and industries were disrupted by the pandemic and the airline industry was no exception. Demand for air travel disappeared, which posed a very unique experience for me and my team as we needed to look after the financial health of JetBlue.

As a company, we also had to address public health concerns in countries around the world to ensure customers felt safe once they were ready to return to the skies. I believe continuously addressing these concerns is something that businesses, both locally and globally, will need to consider going forward.

Bryant Powell, MBA

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

Now a podcaster and a business leader in a global firm, Bryant Powell, MBA 2019, has carried lessons from his father, from his professors, from his education and from his community into his career. Here, he shares some of his insights from the various parts of his professional personality.

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

I work for Bristol Myers Squibb, one of the leading global biotech companies in the world, as the associate director of worldwide commercialization operations. Essentially, I serve as the chief of staff for the senior vice president of worldwide commercialization capabilities and strategy. I am also the producer and host of the Bristol Myers Squibb-sponsored global podcast BOLD Innovators Podcast series.  

My Olin education has had a tremendous impact on my career. I started at BMS in their business insights and analytics two-year rotational development program. Nearly every skill I learned from SQL to advanced Excel data modeling, to effectively presenting to key stakeholders, I learned from Olin. An Olin education allowed me to hit the ground running on day one in the development program and it also provided me with a toolkit with skills and experiences that I still use today.

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

While at Olin there were many courses, moments and faculty that positively influenced my life and career. For example, courses such as Competitive Industry Analysis and Critical Thinking Process and Modeling for Effective Decision Making, having in-depth conversations about digital marketing and analytics with Professor Michael Wall, and presenting key findings for a special consulting project for the St. Louis Cardinals were very influential.

The defining moment for me was our year’s weeklong capstone trip to Shanghai in March 2019. The goal was to develop a strategy for a local St. Louis business to enter the Chinese market. Prior to going on the trip, I knew I would be working with a team of smart, driven classmates and I felt as though my skills and experiences would not be as valuable as theirs. At that moment I suffered from imposter syndrome.

This was only a few months before graduation, and I would be entering into a new industry, pharmaceuticals, which made me more anxious. However, after working with my classmates and providing key inputs to the recommendation allowed me to boost my confidence.

After completing the weeklong capstone, I knew that I could be an asset to any industry, including the biotech world. Now that I look back at it, it’s funny that I had to travel all the way to Shanghai to really understand my value and my inner confidence.

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

I stay connected with Olin through my personal desire to give back to the school, which has given me so much over the years. I wouldn’t have been able to go to business school without the resources that Olin and the Consortium for Graduate Study in Business provided. For that, I am forever committed to give back to my community.

“When much is given, much is always expected.” This is something my father always reiterated to me. Once I was able to have some extra financial flexibility, I wanted to make those words a reality and start giving back through philanthropic efforts to which I am passionate. Earlier in 2022, I decided to start my own scholarship at Olin called The Powell Family “Pay It Forward” Scholarship. This scholarship will provide financial assistance for deserving underrepresented minorities that are members of the Consortium. My hope is that recipients are inspired to pay it forward to future students.

Why is business education important?

I believe that a business education is important for three reasons:

  • General skills: It gives you general skills necessary to begin a career regardless of industry or focus. It allows you to build your toolkit to add value from nonprofits to corporate settings.
  • Presenting and influencing: Most of life is spent communicating, and it is important that your communication is effective and that you can influence others. A business education gives you the core communication skills to effectively craft and persuade others.
  • Networking: A key part to growing your career is doing the work, but also building your network and your own personal board of directors.

What advice would you give current Olin students?

I understand what worked for me may not work for someone else, so I don’t like giving out advice, but my opinions. I would tell current Olin students to take full advantage of all the opportunities that Olin and the city of St. Louis has to offer. I always viewed being at Olin and St. Louis as being a big fish in a small pond.

There are so many great organizations and major corporations to get involved with in St. Louis. A student is only one conversation away from starting a meaningful relationship. That’s the power of an Olin education.

For example, I had the opportunity to work for and build relationships with Anheuser-Busch, the St. Louis Cardinals, the St. Louis Film Festival, Express Scripts and Edward Jones, just to name a few. With so many options to choose from, the biggest obstacle is figuring out where you want to put your focus.

So, if I had to sum up my opinion, I would say go out, network, and have real authentic conversations with people Olin, WashU or the St. Louis community. You never know where your next opportunity of a lifetime will come from.

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

Chase good management, don’t chase money. With everything that has happened with the pandemic, I would say it has influenced my career by making me understand the value of working for good leadership. We’ve seen throughout the pandemic the importance of leadership and management.

There were some organizations that truly listened to their employees about burnout, social unrest and lack of growth. Although other companies may have had higher paying positions, they ignored these topics and the struggles of their employees.

These employees left their organizations for better roles, but some left for lateral or lower positions to start over again. People don’t leave a job; they leave bad management.

MBA students have a plethora of companies, including Fortune 25 organizations, to choose from that would look great on their resume. Even with all these options, there won’t be a lot of places with great management where they will listen, develop and have opportunities for you to be a future leader in their organization. I would say to choose stability and smart, talented management. The money, experiences, and development will come when you chase good management.

Marleigh Friedman, BSBA

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

Marleigh Friedman, BSBA ’20, started as an art major before finding business in the first formational undergraduate course. That ultimately led to a career with a global company and an appreciation for the complexity of business and its interconnectedness.

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

I am an analyst in high jewelry at Tiffany & Company, where I manage gemstone jewelry. This encompasses building the pieces from start to finish, including the selection and purchasing of gemstones. My Olin education helped me to develop a business mindset, build important analytical skills, and promote interpersonal communication and networking, which opened doors at my current company as well as at my prior positions.

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

Management 100 was the first class I took in Olin, and it convinced me to transfer from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts. I loved learning about different business models and the potential global impact. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so learning about the origin of a business and how to grow it specifically intrigued me.

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

I am very close with many of my Olin classmates, and, although they are spread throughout the country and are very busy, I try to see them as much as possible and keep in touch at least virtually.

Why is business education important?

Understanding how the economy works and how current events impact it is important when entering the “real world,” no matter which career path one has chosen. It is also important to understand finances and how everything relates to the economy on a national and global scale. When seeking a position at a company, this education becomes invaluable.

What advice would you give current Olin students?

Study abroad, take advantage of as many academic and extracurricular opportunities as realistically possible and make connections with a diverse group of students. Additionally, connect with your professors as they can be great resources!

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

The pandemic shifted my career by making me think about business on both a local and global scale.

My original plan was to work in merchandising at Macy’s after graduation, a national company. However, with work becoming remote, I was able to travel more and experience the world. Although I had planned to have a longer career at Macy’s, exploring my options led me to Tiffany & Co. this year, working on a global scale.

The company is a part of LVMH, a large French conglomerate that owns hundreds of luxury brands, with opportunity for sector interaction and an international presence.

It is incredibly interesting and rewarding to learn how our businesses differ globally, especially comparing it to my experience at a national company.

Diane Keaggy, Campus Life senior news director in University Marketing & Communications, originally wrote this for The Source.

Washington University in St. Louis sophomore Aisha Adedayo could not afford an unpaid internship this summer. And Cam Loyet, a 2021 graduate of Olin Business School and founder of Honeymoon Chocolates, could not afford to add payroll to his burgeoning startup.

Still, they had so much to offer each other. Adedayo had energy and an entrepreneurial spirit, while Loyet had experience launching a successful brand.

Enter the St. Louis Entrepreneurial Fellowship, one of 11 Washington University programs that pays students to intern at St. Louis nonprofits, startups and businesses. An initiative of the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the yearlong fellowship provides fellows a $3,000 stipend and free university housing so they can live and learn in St. Louis.  

Gabriela Pedreros

“St. Louis has such a vibrant startup scene, and I got to experience it firsthand,” said Adedayo, who, along with sophomore Gabriela Pedreros, worked at Honeymoon Chocolates’ retail store and commercial kitchen in Clayton. Adedayo, a member of the Beyond Boundaries program, is a student in Olin Business School, as is Pedreros. “I helped increase conversion through conducting email marketing, organizing events, shooting product photographs and redesigning the packaging—basically whatever was needed in the moment.” 

This summer, Washington University programs distributed stipends totaling some $625,000 to about 165 students who had unpaid or underpaid internships in the St. Louis region. The students worked in nearly every field, administering medicine to sick animals at the Wildlife Rescue Center, studying drug-delivery systems for med-tech startup UN & UP, directing young actors at the Center of Creative Arts, investigating pollution complaints for the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, and more. 

In addition, the university paid more than 4,000 students approximately $27 million in wages for summer internships, fellowships, research positions and other campus jobs. Summer associates in the Office of Sustainability helped plan the university’s transition to EV fleet vehicles; interns in University Marketing & Communications wrote articles for the Record; and summer researchers at the Institute for Public Health conducted pediatric research. 

And the Office of Undergraduate Research provided 106 students with $400,000 in grants to conduct independent, faculty-mentored research in St. Louis.

These real-world experiences on and off campus prepare students for future careers, strengthen the St. Louis region and fuel the local economy, said II Luscri, managing director of the Skandalaris Center. He said students who intern in St. Louis are more likely to start their careers here.

“Part of our job at WashU is to help prepare our students to succeed whether that be in their own business, a private company, a nonprofit organization, a government agency or a graduate program,” Luscri said. “We are lucky to be in a region that gives our students so many opportunities to be creative problem solvers. But we also have an obligation to St. Louis. The ‘in St. Louis’ of Washington University in St. Louis matters.”  

Read the full story here.

Top photo: Aisha Adedayo learned about marketing, supply chain management and manufacturing during her summer internship at startup Honeymoon Chocolates in Clayton. Here, Adedayo consults with founder Cam Loyet, who earned a master’s degree in business administration from Olin Business School in 2021. (Photos by Paul Nordmann/Washington University)