Tag: Alumni

Alison Berger, senior associate director of University Advancement at Olin, wrote this blog post.

Olin honored five recent alumni with Emerging Leader Awards today. The event included a panel discussion featuring the 2021 honorees and a virtual celebration.

The Emerging Leader Award honors recent Olin alumni who exemplify the business school’s mission to create knowledge, inspire individuals and transform business.

We are proud to recognize these five honorees:

Ryan Cameron Courson, BSBA ’10

Chief Financial Officer, EagleView

Ryan Cameron Courson is the chief financial officer of EagleView, a world-leading provider of Geospatial Intelligence. At EagleView, he is responsible for accounting, finance, corporate development, corporate strategy and legal.


Prior to joining EagleView, Courson was the CFO of Atlas Corp. (NYSE: ATCO), a $10 billion global asset management firm that owns Seaspan Corp. and APR Energy. During his tenure at Atlas, the company invested over $4 billion of capital across both portfolio companies.

Before he became an executive, Courson developed his career as an investor, spending three years at Falcon Edge Capital, a diversified investment firm with more than $3 billion in assets under management. He focused on researching and investing in equities across North America and Asia. Before that, he worked at Teton Capital, a private family office, as an investment professional and acting CFO of Teton’s Davos Brands. Courson began his career working at Berkshire Hathaway as an investment analyst.

Fluent in Mandarin, Courson graduated summa cum laude from Washington University, where he serves as a visiting professor teaching a course on investing. Ryan married Rebecca in 2016, and they have two daughters, Cameron and Quinn.

Elise Miller Hoffman, BA ’11, MBA ’16

General Partner, Cultivation Capital

As general partner at Cultivation Capital, Elise Miller Hoffman invests in digital health and life sciences startups in the seed to Series B stage, focusing on healthcare companies that are solving the pressing problems exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic. She supports the Cultivation Capital portfolio as a board member at Healthy Bytes, board observer at ImageMoverMD, and former board observer at NarrativeDx before its acquisition in 2020. 


In addition to her work at Cultivation Capital, Hoffman is active in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, serving as co-chair of the board at the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective and an advisory council member at Arch Grants. In addition, one can often find her on the Washington University campus, serving as an investor in residence at the Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship and a director of the Holekamp Seed Fund. In the St. Louis community, Hoffman serves as a board member at Forward Through Ferguson, an advisory board member for the Center for Civic Research and Innovation, and a member of the St. Louis Forum. Hoffman holds a BA in Spanish literature and Latin American studies and an MBA from Washington University. The St. Louis Business Journal recognized her as a “30 under 30” awardee in 2018. 

Ryan Hwang, BSBA ’09

Founder, Schoology


Ryan Hwang graduated from Washington University in 2009 with a BSBA degree in marketing and international business. At WashU, alongside classmates Tim Trinidad and Jeremy Friedman, Hwang founded Schoology as an online learning platform focused on helping K-12 schools continue to advance what’s possible in education. Hwang was a key leader on the product management team. He managed a team of product managers and oversaw product strategy and roadmap for Schoology’s core product, the learning management system (LMS).

By 2019, Schoology had reached more than 20 million students and become the leading LMS provider, leading to its acquisition by PowerSchool. At PowerSchool, Hwang served as director of product management, where he continued to oversee product strategy and roadmap for Schoology, leading to unprecedented growth throughout 2020.

Philip Lewis, BSBA ’07

Partner, Fulcrum Equity Partners

After graduating from Olin, Philip Lewis accepted a position with A.G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis.  The opportunity proved to be a brief one when Wachovia acquired A.G. Edwards in the ensuing months and opted not to retain recent hires. His next opportunity soon arose in Atlanta, where a start-up growth equity fund, Fulcrum Equity Partners, chose Lewis to be its first hire. Lewis began as an analyst during the initial fundraising, and he is now principal, leading new investments, sitting on multiple boards, and helping source investment opportunities.


Lewis also served as CFO of a portfolio company, RivalHealth, from 2015-2017, ultimately guiding the company through a merger and sitting on the new company’s board.

Lewis is deeply involved in Atlanta’s professional and nonprofit communities. He is on the leadership council for Year Up! Atlanta, a nonprofit focused on closing the opportunity gap for underserved young adults through professional skills development, classroom learning and internships. He previously chaired the steering committee of the NextWave Society at the Georgia Aquarium, focusing on raising awareness and funds for environmental research and conservation. In the professional community, Lewis serves on the board of directors and selection committee for Venture Atlanta, the largest venture capital conference in the Southeast. He chaired the 10th anniversary Venture Atlanta conference in 2017. He also serves on the board of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Development in North Carolina. Lewis previously was on the board of the corporate development society for the Technology Association of Georgia, founded the Young Southern Capital Group (Atlanta’s largest community of young investment professionals), and he served multiple years on the selection committee for the Technology Association of Georgia’s Top 10/40 Most Innovative Company awards. 

Tim Trinidad, BS ’09, BSBA ’09

Founder, Schoology


Tim Trinidad joined Washington University as an undergraduate freshman in 2005. During that time, he participated as a member of The Washington University Amateurs a cappella group, the WUSauce salsa team, the Orientation Executive Board, the Dance Marathon Executive Board, and Sigma Nu Fraternity. In addition, he served as webmaster for several university organizations, to which he credits his start in web development and web design. Trinidad graduated cum laude in 2009 with majors in entrepreneurship and computer science.

With the help of The Hatchery course taught by Cliff Holekamp, Trinidad and co-founders Ryan Hwang and Jeremy Friedman refined the Schoology business plan and pitch deck (the original versions of which are still available to see at Olin). Schoology soon received angel funding, at which point the team moved to New York City and grew to over 150 employees with more than 2000 enterprise customers in more than 100 countries. Since then, the founders were recognized by Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 in Education.

During his tenure at Schoology, Trinidad has built a team and infrastructure that has scaled to more than 18 million users worldwide. Through his leadership, Schoology has developed a highly scalable and available infrastructure, an architecture that supports agile development methods and continuous deployment, and a world-class engineering organization. In November 2019, Schoology was acquired by PowerSchool, where Trinidad continues to work on the Schoology platform as a senior principal software architect.

Olin alumnus John Dains, BSBA ’68, has made an $8 million commitment to support an undergraduate student success fund at his alma mater, Chancellor Andrew D. Martin announced.

The endowed fund, to be called the Stephanie Brooks Dains and John Dains Student Success Fund, is named for Dains and his late wife, Stephanie Brooks Dains, also a graduate of Washington University. It dramatically increases funding available to help students with financial need cover emergency and educational enrichment expenses. See the full story.

When Dr. Jeffery Davis, an emergency room doctor at Missouri Baptist Medical Center and 2017 Olin MBA alum, went on vacation with his family to sunny San Diego, he expected a break from the chaos of the ER. Instead, he spent his last day saving the life of a young man in the harbor whose leg was nearly amputated by a boat propellor.

On March 26, Dr. Davis and his family boarded a whale-watching boat at the San Diego harbor. They had a great trip, sighting a whale and a pod of dolphins. On the way back into the harbor, though, the boat captain noticed something concerning: a nearby vessel had thrown three people from the boat, and the third passenger being pulled back onto the boat had a severe leg wound. His leg had been nearly amputated at the knee, severing a major artery.

Faced with this gruesome scene, Dr. Davis’ medical instincts and level headedness kicked in. He jumped onto the boat and used his belt to create a makeshift tourniquet for the young man’s leg. The bleeding slowed, allowing time for the boat to dock and the young man to be loaded into an ambulance.

After nearly 20 years of experience in emergency medicine, Davis explained to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, that this kind of quick response is “hard-wired into you” and part of “who you are.”

After the incident, Dr. Davis and his family spent the rest of their last day decompressing and letting his three daughters to process what had happened. Then, they returned home to St. Louis, where Dr. Davis continues to treat severe injuries at Missouri Baptist Medical Center as an emergency room doctor.

Family-owned M-D Building Products Inc. has named a new president. The Oklahoma-based company develops, manufactures and markets a range of residential and commercial weatherization, flooring, caulking and specialty extrusion products.

Following its centennial anniversary, the company appointed Ryan Plotkin, MBA ’16, who plans to “take M-D to the next level” under his leadership by fostering innovation and efficiency, according to the company’s press release. As president, Plotkin will “lead operational growth plans surrounding the consumer products, specified extrusion manufacturing and professional flooring divisions.”

In the release, the company’s board indicated that it enthusiastically supported Plotkin’s appointment, citing his focus, energy and commitment to driving progress within the company.

Plotkin held the position of chief operating officer after his graduation from Olin’s MBA program. He has been with M-D Building Products since the company hired him as a global business manager in 2008.

Carl Casale, EMBA ’92, will be honored on April 30 as the 2021 Dean’s Medalist.

A purpose-driven executive and respected leader in the agriculture and food industries, Casale leads the venture capital practice at Ospraie Ag Science.

His three decades of experience leading globally influential companies across the ag and food sectors provide insight into converging forces that will fundamentally transform global agricultural systems.

“The projections are by 2030 about half the world is going to be middle class or wealthy and the other half is still going to be poor,” he said in an interview.

“What we believe is going to happen is a bifurcation in the food supply. There’ll be those that just want more calories. But increasingly in what we’re seeing in this country is it’s not about how many calories can you produce. It’s how can you produce my calories?”

Consumers are interested in sustainability, transparency and local sources, he said.

“It’s not a fad. It is a shift, we believe. And so we said, ‘OK, if we believe that to be true, what do we want to do?’ And we said, ‘Well, let’s invest in technologies that fulfill those needs that can make farmers more productive but satisfy the desires of consumers in a way that they want met.’”

A farmer himself

A fourth-generation farmer, Casale identifies ag tech investment opportunities that support sustainable food production. In 2018, he helped launch Ospraie Ag Science, which is the venture arm of Ospraie Management. In this role, he leads successful venture campaigns for select companies that help farmers do more with less environmental impact.

In another role, in Casale’s seven years as the CEO and president of CHS Inc., the company returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. CHS Inc. is a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States.

Casale said he focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company. During his tenure, CHS was the only major firm in the industry to manage through the recent economic decline without a planned reduction in workforce, instead relying on strategic cost reductions. Casale reduced working capital by $400 million to help fund a $2.8 billion transformational investment in CF Nitrogen—without taking on an undesirable debt level. The result was an 80-year agreement and a significant new profit source for the co-op’s farmer-owners.

His Monsanto days

At Monsanto Co., Casale rose through the ranks from sales representative to running the company’s largest division at age 36. As executive vice president of strategy and operations, he conceptualized the industry’s first eight-gene agricultural biotech product, “SmartStax,” which became the nation’s No. 1 insect protection trait in corn. As CFO, he reduced several hundred million dollars in operating costs by shifting the reliance on revenue to the strategic use of cash to generate earnings.

From Congress to key industry events, Casale is a sought-after commentator on the future of farming and global ag infrastructure. He remains deeply committed to “creating business models that ensure relevance over time” and continues to shape the ag, food and energy industries in both private and public roles.

Casale and his wife, Kim, operate a 150-acre specialty crop farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and his family resides in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.