Tag: Alumni

Leonard Adreon, BSBA ’50, is a Korean War veteran, a corpsman who chronicled his experiences in a recently released memoir, Hilltop Doc: A Marine Corpsman Fighting Through the Mud and Blood of the Korean War. The memoir marked the first time in 60 years he had confronted and told the stories of the gruesome experiences he faced in war.

He recently returned to campus for a public conversation about his book, moderated by Olin Dean Mark Taylor.

“I didn’t say a word to anybody,” Adreon told the St. Louis Jewish Light. “A lot of us decided that the smartest thing to do was to go on with our lives and put it behind us. What we experienced and endured was horrendous. It was better forgotten.”

After the war, Adreon returned to St. Louis and spent 36 years as the executive vice president of The Siteman Organization. a real estate management and development company. He was an active advocate for the building and real estate industry throughout his career, serving in advocacy roles around the world and in Washington, DC.

Adreon has also been a leader at a variety of charities focused on child welfare and volunteers as a facilitator for writing classes in Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute.

He offered this poem to Dean Taylor in late April as a tribute to fallen US soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines.

Remember Forever

I am alone
among the silent stones
It’s early morning
The sun creeps through
sparsely scattered clouds
chases the night away
A cool gentle breeze
tingles my skin

Row after row
marble stones
on a carpet of green
Each curved at the top
standing proud over the grave
a small religious symbol
above the etched name of one who served
and the dates of a shortened shattered life

I’m here to visit my son
resting quietly with other soldiers
Today is his 40th birthday
If he could talk to me
what would he say
What is the message I should carry home

I sit on the small bench
close my eyes and listen

Dad, you’re here, that’s what counts
When I went away I knew the score
Danger lurked with every step
Most guys made it and came home
Some of us ran out of luck

I tried to do my best
for you and Mom
for Jamie and Helen
I longed to hear your voice
Feel the warm hug of your love

try to remember me Dad
and all who lie beside me
Remember me forever
Remember them forever

Stuart Adam Wolfer, BSBA
Julian Wise, LA '93

Julian Wise, LA ’93

Julian Wise, LA ’93, wrote this tribute to his former WashU roommate Stuart Adam Wolfer, BSBA ’93, an Army reservist killed during a mortar attack in Iraq in 2008.

This spring, I attended the 25th reunion for the Washington University Class of 1993. It was a joyful, fast-paced weekend, filled with alumni parties, volunteer events, and conversation with old friends. It was good to stroll the Brookings campus again.

Yet amid the merriment, I couldn’t help noting an absence in our ranks. The week marked the 10th year since the death of my former roommate, Major Stuart Adam Wolfer, KIA in Iraq in 2008.

Stuart and I lived together from 1990 to 1992, first in a suite at Rutledge Hall and later in an off-campus apartment in the Central West End. He remains an unforgettable figure from my Washington University years.

Stuart and I had little in common. I was a quiet liberal arts student from Cape Cod struggling to choose a major. Stuart bounded into WashU from Coral Springs, Florida, rock-confident in his plans for the future—business school, ROTC; an MBA or law degree after graduation. I marveled at his certainty, not without a trace of jealousy. Could it really be that easy to choose a career path without putting yourself through torturous mental gyrations?

Stuart was physical. He stood tall, worked out regularly, and carried himself with commanding presence. He didn’t just enter a room—he strode in. By junior year, he was maintaining a full course load, working part-time at Eddie Bauer’s at the Galleria Mall, and decamping frequently to Fort Leonard Wood in the Ozarks for ROTC training. I couldn’t figure out where he got the energy.

Lee Wolfer of Eagle, Idaho, the widow of Stuart Adam Wolfer, and ROTC Lt. Col. James Craig, unveil a memorial during the Stuart Wolfer Memorial Event at the North Campus of Washington University on April 18, 2018. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Lee Wolfer of Eagle, Idaho, the widow of Stuart Adam Wolfer,
and ROTC Lt. Col. James Craig, unveil a memorial during the Stuart Wolfer Memorial
Event at the North Campus of Washington University
on April 18, 2018. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Stuart and I weren’t best friends, but we were always cordial with each other. I kept quiet in the apartment, did the dishes and paid the rent on time. With his hectic schedule, that was all he was looking for in a roommate. We would never achieve that sentimental, bosom-buddy rapport associated with college friendships. I was a wallflower, while Stuart’s energy was turned up to 11. By senior year we’d drifted on to other living arrangements. I never saw Stuart after graduation; we exchanged a few brief emails before falling out of touch.

Walking among the current generation of WashU students, it struck me that the people least like us are often the ones we learn the most from. There is comfort and ease in bonding with similar people, yet the greatest growth comes from encountering those whose temperaments, outlooks, and natures contrast with our own.

With the passage of years, I’ve come to understand that, while he was no saint—he could be stubborn as a bull when the spirit moved him—Stuart possessed qualities I have come to value, admire, and even try to emulate. He was loyal to a fault, devoted, hard-working, and relentlessly value-driven.

I suspect his energy came from an awareness that his time at Washington University was brief and he was determined to wrest every drop of experience from it.

Today, I think of Stuart’s three daughters, who were young when he died. I want them to know that their father lived with a spark that’s memorable a quarter century later to those who knew him. I’m certain he loved them with a power beyond words. To them, I say: Your father was a remarkable man and you should be proud of him. Washington University certainly is.

Julian Wise is the owner of Island Images Gallery and Genevieve Press, a small non-fiction publishing company. He lives on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. He can be reached at islandimagesgallery.com and julwise@gmail.com.

Dean Mark Taylor recently announced the speakers for Olin Business School’s graduation recognition ceremonies on May 18.

It gives me great pleasure to announce this year’s keynote speakers for Olin’s Undergraduate Graduation Recognition Ceremony and Olin’s Graduate Graduation Recognition Ceremony.

Razzy Ghomeshi

Razzy Ghomeshi

The undergraduate ceremony speaker will be Razzy Ghomeshi, BSBA ’09. The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 18, at 11:30 p.m. in the Athletic Complex, Field House.

In a very short time, Razzy Ghomeshi has built a widely recognized reputation for reliability, helpfulness, and investment savvy. In the nine years since graduating from WashU’s Olin Business School, he’s risen rapidly through the ranks at RBC Capital Markets, where he started a few weeks after earning his degree.

Today, Ghomeshi, 30, is managing director at RBC, heading up US investment-grade trading for the company. His rise began within two years of starting at RBC when he earned his own trading book and consistently notched the highest profit-and-loss and trading volumes across the investment-grade trading desk.

Five years later, he was running the desk. Business Insider highlighted Ghomeshi’s financial acumen when it named him a “Wall Street Rising Star” in October 2017. Finance industry analytics firm Greenwich Associates has named Ghomeshi one of its “most helpful traders on Wall Street” three times in his short career.

Sandeep Chugani

Sandeep Chugani

The graduate programs speaker will be Sandeep Chugani, EN ’89, MBA ’91. The ceremony will be on Friday, May 18, at 3:00 p.m. in the Athletic Complex, Field House.

Sandeep Chugani, senior partner and managing director for Boston Consulting Group, leads the firm’s Miami office. The range of his consulting expertise is broad, drawing on experience in developing more effective organizations, creating strategies for corporate transformations and turnarounds, creating paths for organizational growth, improving clients’ merchandise and marketing efforts, and optimizing corporate cash-flow performance.

Previously, Chugani has led BCG’s practices in transformation and retail in North America. Before joining BCG, he was a senior partner at A.T. Kearney and a managing director (partner) at DiamondCluster International, working in the consumer products and retail practice.

Chugani serves on Olin’s National Council and regularly visits the Washington University campus to advise students with insights on the consulting and client landscape, what it takes to be successful in consulting, and to engage in regular Q&A segments.

Get full details about both ceremonies at the graduation pages:

Ryan Courson and his mother, Danna Courson.

Eight years ago, Ryan Cameron Courson was sizing up a cap and gown as he prepared to receive his Olin business administration degree after only three years.

“Travel each path with conviction while being cognizant of the impact you have on others,” Courson urged his fellow graduates in his commencement speech. “For one day, you may be the greatness that inspires someone to walk across this stage.”

Courson with his siblings, Cole Courson, BSBA 2019, and sister XXXXXX.

Courson with his siblings, Cole Courson, BSBA 2019,
and sister, Lindsey Fish.

Now, Courson is doing just that. He’s funded a scholarship in the name of his mother, Danna Courson. He appears by video conference regularly to teach a finance course for undergraduates. He mentors students.

“He’s also a really good person,” said Glenn MacDonald, John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Strategy and one of Courson’s mentors. “He just helps everyone.”

All this, while rocketing to the C-suite for a major global shipping company. Courson became CFO for Seaspan Corp., the world’s largest containership lessor, on May 5.

The Wall Street Journal feature about him dwelled on Courson’s youth—he earned the post at age 29—but the focus doesn’t concern him. He’s comfortable in his own skin and grateful for the guidance, mentorship, and experience he gained through the help of many mentors—most especially, his mother.

“My mother is a critical component of what success I’ve had,” Courson said. “She has been an advocate of education since I was very young.” In fact, he considers the Danna Courson Annual Scholarship, awarded to one Olin student each year “with high need,” an extension of his mother’s work.

“I don’t think of this scholarship as my doing, but rather as a continuation of my mother’s efforts,” he said. “This is the effect of her efforts 15 years ago, and this is the next evolution of that.”

If He’s Not Doing, He’s Teaching

Courson credits his mother—a school teacher—for his love of education and admits that if he weren’t an investor, he’d want to teach full-time. He lobbied hard for the public equity investing class he now teaches from a makeshift home studio—a challenging dive into thoroughly evaluating equity investments that requires a dozen or more hours of work outside class for as few as half a dozen students a year.

“I’m very fortunate to count him among one of my mentors,” said Colin McCune, ArtSci ’18, who worked this semester as a teaching assistant in Courson’s class. “He’s one of the brightest people I’ve ever met. When I found out he was offering a class, I just jumped on it.”

From his background in investment banking and finance, Courson taps into a network of colleagues who come to his video studio and serve as guest speakers, evaluating student presentations as if they were recommending investments for a private equity firm.

“The university gets great exposure from real investors speaking to students, the students get valuable experience, and I enjoy seeing some of my mentors and friends give their time and knowledge to these students,” Courson said.

Mentors and Mother

Courson’s success has come in spite of an important setback his mother and other mentors helped him navigate. Today—and eight years ago in his commencement address—Courson is quick to credit a high school football coach, a St. Louis businessman, a philanthropist he met at age 18, and others with providing the coaching and mentoring that led him to his career. He also counts MacDonald among the most influential people in his life.

“If he doesn’t understand something, he has to figure out how it works,” MacDonald said. “If he finds out he doesn’t understand something, that’s not a tolerable state for him.”

In the final analysis, however, for Courson, it’s all about mother. He notes that others shouldn’t gauge their success by his own rise to the upper echelons of corporate leadership.

“I am a big believer that success is something that is and should be personally defined,” he said. “One of the most successful people in the world is my mother. She raised three amazing kids and she did it in some difficult circumstances — but she wasn’t the one featured in The Wall Street Journal.”

Pictured above: Ryan with his mother, Danna Courson.

Jacob Mohrmann, BSBA’16, chief marketing officer, and Andrew Glantz, BSBA

Jacob Mohrmann, BSBA’16, chief marketing officer of GiftAMeal, provided this update to the Olin Blog.

Washington University student startup GiftAMeal has recently published results from a seven-month-long case study with two locations of St. Louis’ Rich & Charlie’s restaurant.

The company—founded on campus by Olin business students and now operated by alumni—found from its research that customers who used GiftAMeal consistently spent 24 percent more per check compared to standard guests. Additionally, guests returned 45 percent more frequently and even tipped staff 14 percent more.

GiftAMeal markets a mobile phone app that promotes “socially conscious eating” by allowing users to donate to local food pantries when they eat at partnering restaurants. The service is available in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit.

“These results validated the trends we observed in the power of social impact when we decided to create GiftAMeal,” said Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17, founder and CEO of GiftAMeal. “At the end of the day, we want to provide financial returns for our partner restaurants and prove that they can connect with customers in a way that does not require constant price-slashing and discounting.”

Rich & Charlie’s owner, Emil Pozzo, said “the positive feedback from customers has been really exciting to see. The staff has embraced the program as well. They see it as an easy way to help those in need.”

Other Updates on GiftAMeal

The past month has been one of the most successful in GiftAMeal’s history:

  • We won two major grants ($13,359 from the Skandalaris Center and $5,000 from Dartmouth).
  • Buffalo legislators reached out to us to pitch GiftAMeal expanding to their area.
  • We reached 118,781 meals provided in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit.
  • We became a Top 100 Finalist in the 2018 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.

We received a letter from legislators in Buffalo requesting that we expand to their region. We are in talks with them. It is an honor just to see grassroots interest and enthusiasm for our business in an area of the country we have not previously explored.

Just a week later, we heard that we were selected to receive a grant for $13,359 from the Skandalaris Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. Right after that, we received word that we won the Dartmouth Founder’s Grant for $5,000. Given by Dartmouth College, the grant backs startups with ambitious entrepreneurial plans that have demonstrated a high commitment to learning and execution.

Most recently, after asking our users to vote for us out of thousands of companies, we were chosen as a Top 100 Finalist in the FedEx Small Business Grant Competition. We look forward to hearing from them in the coming weeks to see if we made the Top 10.

Last, but certainly not least, we recently tallied the numbers and made our food bank donations, and found that our users have helped provide 118,781 meals in St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. No specific milestone here, we just always love to see that number growing. Every meal counts!

I talked to Andrew recently and he said, “There is still much more work to do to make the most of all of these opportunities, but the future looks bright for GiftAMeal and the ceiling has never been higher for our potential growth.”

Olin Business School Blog Olin Business School Blog