Tag: Alumni



Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation.

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Shannon Turner, MBA ’18.

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

After graduating from Olin, I created the Maria Lida Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic development in Alausi, Ecuador, through tourism, education and training programs. Alausi is near and dear to my heart because it is where my father and his family lived before immigrating to the United States.

My time at Olin gave me tools and resources to pursue my dream of using my education to give back to my roots. I started my business school education with a passion for social entrepreneurship and Olin had many class opportunities in this space.

Olin also provided me with incredible experiential opportunities such as building my idea in classes, serving on the board of a local nonprofit organization, working on a consulting project for clients in Ecuador, and helping a local social enterprise grow. These opportunities helped be build the confidence and skill set to launch my own enterprise after graduating.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

Olin’s introduction to entrepreneurship course with Cliff Holekamp influenced my career path the most. It was wonderful to connect with classmates over our passion for entrepreneurship and learn from entrepreneurs in the St. Louis community.

In this class, I was able to pitch my social venture idea, receive feedback, and work on a feasibility study to explore my idea with classmates. The advice and support I received from Cliff Holekamp were tremendous in helping me craft my social venture.

Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation. Shannon is on the left, front row.

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

The Olin community has been enormously supportive of my career path post-graduation. Last fall, I became a client for Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning International Impact Initiative. The CEL’s International Impact Initiative provides business school students with opportunities to work on consulting projects for global social enterprises.

Through this partnership, Olin MBA students helped the Maria Lida Foundation create business strategies for growth and were able to visit Alausi, Ecuador, to see the work Maria Lida Foundation is doing on the ground. This project would not have occurred without support from Daniel Bentle and Amy VanEssendelft, who are leaders in the CEL program (editor’s note: Daniel Bentle left Olin for another opportunity in mid-April).

As a result of this project, the Maria Lida Foundation received excellent recommendations on how to grow its operations. In addition, the CEL team’s faculty adviser (and my former professor), Hillary Anger Elfenbein, is now a member of Maria Lida Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Why is a business education important?

A business education is important because it gives you the skill set needed to successfully enter the business world. Before my time at Olin, I worked in the legal field for many years so it was incredibly helpful to learn the foundations of business through business school classes. It is also important because it provides you with many opportunities to expand your network, gain mentors, mentor others and learn from new experiences.

Shannon Turner in her family’s hometown of Alausi, Ecuador.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

I would recommend that current Olin students focus their time and energy on things they are passionate about during their time in business school. Olin provides many opportunities for students to participate in various activities and events (something that makes Olin special).

However, you have limited time in business school, so I think it is helpful to spend your time on things that you enjoy. I’m very passionate about using business skills for social impact and entrepreneurship, so I spent time taking entrepreneurship courses, attending networking events for entrepreneurs, participating in social impact and entrepreneurship clubs, serving on a local nonprofit board, and applying to be on student consulting teams for social ventures.

These activities helped me to enjoy my time in business school, meet many people with similar interests, gain mentors, obtain skills, and prepare me for my post-MBA career.

Pictured at top: Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation. Shannon is in the red coat.




Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Natalie Faust, BSBA ’16.

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

I have been working for Walmart Ecommerce at the Moosejaw Mountaineering office outside Detroit, Michigan, for the last 10 months. I am the category specialist for camp furniture and camp airbeds across all the Walmart e-commerce platforms (Walmart.com, jet.com, Hayneedle.com, and of course Moosejaw.com!).

Olin had a big impact on my career by providing me the necessary tools to be able to network, learn on the job and then succeed in my career. One class in particular I am grateful for was the required operations and supply chain management course.

It taught me so much about inventory management and pricing, which is what I deal with every day, and at scales I never would have imagined.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

I guess I touched on it above, but operations and supply chain management influenced my life and career a lot. I took it second semester junior year when I was already majoring in marketing and finance. I had thought I wanted to go into marketing or consulting, but fell in love with the material in Professor Nan Yang’s intro course.

I ended up changing my major from finance to OSCM because of it. Now, as a category specialist, I work closely with the supply chain and planning teams to develop inventory strategy, and I manage pricing for a large part of the outdoor business on Walmart.com.

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

Some of the friends I made in Delta Sigma Pi are my best friends after college. I don’t live in the same city as a lot of them anymore, but I love to visit NYC to see them, and we speak regularly. I highly recommend undergraduates look into business fraternities for both the professional development and the incredible friendships you will make.

Why is business education important?

So many reasons! Studying business as an undergraduate allowed me to hit the ground running in my career. It helped prepare me for interviews, introduced me to tools and theories, and helped me understand how to succeed in the workplace.

The case competitions and group assignments were one of the most valuable parts. In both of the jobs I have had, being able to work well with others has contributed greatly to my success.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

Explore your options. It is never too late to find what you are interested in studying. You are not locked into a major. You won’t be locked into a job.

And along the same lines, try things outside of the business school (that aren’t required). One of my favorite classes at WashU was Witches and Wizards in Greco-Roman Literature. I took it because I am a Harry Potter nerd, and it ended up being a quintessential college class with a tiny class size, great discussions and an eccentric/passionate professor.




Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Mitch McMahon, BSBA ’16.

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

I’m working at Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis as the senior manager of fleet and facilities for North American Distribution Operations. I would say I continually look back at two things when I connect my Olin experience to my current job.

The first is the strong analytical foundation that Olin helped me build. At AB, we are always focused on data-based decision-making and I felt that was a focus in my time at Olin. The other was the collaborative experience I had during my courses at Olin.

One of the 10 principles at ABI references judging performance on the quality of our teams. The continued focus on group work and team deliverables at Olin is a skill set I now use daily.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

Hmm. This is a tough one. It might be Operations and Supply Chain Management 230—the first course where I realized I was in love with data-driven decision-making and creating models to drive efficiency in everyday business decisions. This course has had a significant influence on my career path today.

Or Professor Judi McLean Parks. I never actually was enrolled in her course, but I spent four years as a teaching assistant for her MBA negotiations course. As a part of the job, we would occasionally participate in the simulated negotiations.

The lessoned I learned in her course about growing the size of the pie, incentive alignment and not treating negotiation as a zero-sum game have helped me work through contracts with our vendors and in some cases add value to both parties. Working with contracts is now one of my favorite activities at work!

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

Two things make it very easy for me.

  1. I’m dating one of my Olin classmates—Brooke Hofer.
  2. I’ve been roommates with two of them since graduation. It’s great to continue our professional lives together.

I also try to make it back for football games and basketball games when I can.

Why is business education important?

Business education is important because it puts the relational aspect of an industry on the same pedestal as technical capability. The psychological, as well as analytical aspects of a business education are what drew me in and are the reasons I believe it continues to be such as staple as an area of study.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

Enjoy your time in school and make as many friends as possible. You will be shocked at how many industries you could end up having connections with in the new future, purely based on what jobs your friends end up taking.


Lawrence E. Thomas, honored on April 5 as the 2019 Dean’s Medalist, first came to Washington University in the early 1970s, and he’s maintained a strong connection to the university community ever since.

He began his undergraduate study in science, but soon discovered he was attracted to the business school. He switched his major to finance and a summer internship opened doors to a life-long career with Edward Jones.

That internship in 1977 lead to a position in the company’s corporate bond trading department after graduation, where Thomas located corporate bond investments to fit the needs of individual investors. He became a principal of Edward Jones in 1983, and two years later, established its government bond department. Thomas oversaw mortgage-backed trading through 1995 and then joined the financial adviser development. He later became the area leader for the northeast, where he was responsible for the growth and performance of the financial advisors in 13 states.

In January 2000, Thomas assumed responsibility for the syndicate and unit investment trusts groups. Four years later, he rejoined the corporate bond department with responsibility for distributing the group’s newly issued corporate notes. From 2009 through 2011, he oversaw the firm’s financial adviser minority recruiting efforts. In 2013, he assumed his current responsibilities co-leading the university channel for financial adviser career development in talent acquisition.

Thomas has actively supported Washington University and Olin Business School serving as chair of his 10th reunion class and as a leader in the national Black Alumni Council. He is a past president of Olin’s Alumni Association Executive Committee, a past chair of the Alumni Board of Governors, and currently serves on Olin’s National Council. He received a Distinguished Alumni Award at Founders Day in 1997 and Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. He has completed three terms on the Board of Trustees.

A scholarship recipient himself, Thomas began supporting scholarships in 1986. He has established the Lawrence E. Thomas Scholarship, the Wesley Thomas Scholarship and the Lawrence E. Thomas/Edward Jones and Company Scholarship. As Thomas has noted, it was a scholarship that made attending Washington University possible.

“The scholarship was certainly important for me, because I wouldn’t have been able to attend a private university otherwise.”

He expressed his passion about scholarships by saying, “We must continue to make sure that we enroll students here from all economic levels, including those who don’t have the financial means to attend. Washington University gave us something we could walk away with, other than just a degree, and we should all give as much back as we possibly can.”

Thomas also serves on the executive committees of the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo and the executive committee of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) Foundation. He also serves as the past board chair for Provident Inc. and Forest Park Forever.

In addition to his undergraduate degree, Thomas earned MBAs from Lindenwood University and Northwestern University. He also is a graduate of the Securities Industry Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

“The university belongs to all of us, especially those of us who are alums, and the university has done a good job trying to serve its alumni. It’s because of the university that many of us have grown up to be contributing citizens, and grown in our professions.”




In the two-plus years since I became dean, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of emceeing quite a number of WashU Olin commencement ceremonies. It is my joy to stand at the podium and gaze at faces glowing with a combination of pride, relief and anticipation. I make a point of being the first to welcome them into the community of Olin alumni—a global network approaching nearly 30,000.

The challenge, of course, is where we go from that day forward?

For the alum, Olin can be a source of professional development through webinars, symposia and research. We can be a source of opportunity and career development through ongoing services and engagement with the Weston Career Center (WCC). And, importantly, I’m proud that we’ve launched new opportunities for our alumni and we continue to grow professional connections through networking events.

For Olin, each alum has the potential to provide career coaching and mentoring to the students who follow them. They can provide professional insights to our students in the classroom and through hosted career treks. Or invite students to work on practicum projects that solve real-world problems. Or recruit students for jobs in their organizations. And because of our alumni, who are generous with their treasure—as well as their time and talent—we are able to maintain and build our scholarships, programs and facilities.

Over the past two years, as we have strived to take the school even higher, I’ve become resolved to be more intentional about how we engage with our alumni. We intend to do more to maintain the strong connections between Olin and our former students, to provide a service to our alumni, particularly in the early years of their career, when they most need our support.

We’ve been clear at Olin that our mission and vision statements call for us to provide a return for our students over their entire career. Our students have had the Olin experience—the community, the coursework, the global projects, the collaboration, the faculty—and they’ll continue to have the benefit of Olin after they leave.

Once Olin, always Olin.

In that spirit, watch for more details about the ways we intend to enhance our outreach to and collaboration with our former students.

These initiatives fall in broad categories such as alumni engagement, lifelong learning, alumni communications and personal career resources—a joint effort, taking in the feedback we’ve received from our alumni and the work of colleagues in Alumni and Development, Marketing and Communications, the Graduate Programs Office and the WCC.

In some cases, our work is really focused on better communicating about existing services and opportunities—including career coaching and other career services through the WCC. These services are there and we know our alumni want to make use of them.

In other ways, it’s about taking what we already do to the next level. To enhance communication, for example, we’ve launched a quarterly alumni newsletter (watch for the next edition on April 23). We’re creating listening tours and a schedule of happy hours.

We’re working on symposia, luncheons and panels in various cities around the country, as well as strategies for more communication through phone calls, alumni profiles and more. We’re looking at additional conferences, special events and recorded resources for professional development and sharing WashU Olin thought leadership.

We’re focused on these initiatives so we may live up to our mission and vision. We’re focused on them to make the special relationship between Olin and our alumni more evident to everyone. We’re focused on them because we believe in that perfect world.

I want you to hold me to it.




These Olin Business School emerging leaders will be honored at a luncheon on April 5. They’re innovators, dedicated entrepreneurs, and benefactors.

Harsh Agarwal, BSBA ’06
Director, EQT Partners, Inc.

Harsh Agarwal

Harsh Agarwal arrived at Washington University as the first in his family to study outside India. He is remembered by his professors and classmates as the “finance junkie” who would spend hours talking about companies, working with classmates to build financial models or pitching his class to invest in Apple in 2003.

Fresh out of Olin, Agarwal landed an investment banking job at Goldman Sachs in New York City, advising on M&A transactions aggregating more than $55 billion in value. In 2008, Agarwal moved to TPG Capital in San Francisco to begin his investing career. Over the next eight years, he pursued his MBA at Stanford University and advanced at TPG, investing in early-stage and mature technology companies. Agarwal next pursued a more entrepreneurial path by moving to the Swedish private equity firm, EQT Partners, to help build EQT’s US technology sector investing efforts, and where he continues to pursue his passion for investing in his role as a director in New York City.

Agarwal is grateful for the generous support of scholarship donors who made his Olin education possible as well as the alumni community that helped him launch his career. He currently sponsors an Olin undergraduate scholarship and is an active participant in Olin’s treks and mentorship programs.

SiSi Beltrán Martí, BSBA ’04
Director, marketing, Build-A-Bear Workshop

SiSi Beltrán Martí

SiSi Beltrán Martí grew up in Puerto Rico and came to St. Louis in 2000 to attend Washington University. In 2004, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Olin Business School with majors in International Business, Marketing and Romance Languages. Upon graduation, Beltrán Martí joined Build-A-Bear Workshop, where she is currently the director of marketing.

Beltrán Martí is an avid community volunteer. She is the current president of the Olin Alumni Board at Washington University and also serves on the boards of Forest Park Forever, Casa de Salud and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. In addition, Beltrán Martí is the immediate past chair of the Multicultural Leadership Society for the United Way of Greater St. Louis and has been a mentor for college students through Washington University and the Regional Business Council. In 2007, the St. Louis Business Journal named her one of St Louis’ Top 30 under 30, and in 2014, the publication honored her as a Diverse Business Leader. This past year, Beltrán Martí was named the Kathryn Nelson Keeper of the Park by the City of St. Louis and Forest Park Forever.

Alexander D. Borchert, BSBA ’06
Managing director of investments, Altus Properties

Alexander D. Borchert

Alex Borchert’s passion for entrepreneurial real estate investment was sparked in his junior year at Olin. He tapped into the Olin network by reaching out to alumni to investigate career paths in real estate development and investment—leading to an internship that launched his career.

Today, Borchert leads the investment division at Altus Properties, one of the Midwest’s most active private equity real estate investment and development firms. At Altus Properties, Borchert is responsible for the leadership of its equity investments, acquisitions, dispositions and project capitalizations. While there, he has been instrumental in nearly tripling the firm’s assets under management, leading its expansion into new markets and developing its ground-up development platform.

Borchert continues to actively invest in his relationship with Washington University. He sits on the university’s Alumni Board of Governors and Olin’s Alumni Board, where he serves as past president. Not only did Borchert deliver the keynote address at Olin’s 2017 undergraduate commencement ceremony, he and his wife, Dana, have supported an Olin undergraduate scholarship since 2011. He also serves on the Board of the United Way of Greater Saint Louis and the Alumni Board of St. Louis Priory and spends his free time enjoying his hobbies of downhill skiing and aviation with his wife, three-year-old Wyatt and four-month-old Willow.

Atima Lui, BSBA ’12
Founder and CEO, NUDEST

Atima Lui, Photo source: The Prevail Project

Atima Lui was born to a Sudanese refugee father and black activist mother in Topeka, Kansas, where her dark skin tone never quite fit in with the standard of beauty in her community. Today, as founder and CEO of fashion and beauty tech startup NUDEST, Lui licenses patent-pending skin tone matching AI technology to help fashion and beauty brands produce and sell products for women of all skin tones.

Before graduating from Harvard Business School in 2016 with her MBA, Lui led digital brand marketing initiatives at Walmart US. She was named one of CIO.com’s Top 20 Female Entrepreneur’s to Watch and has been featured in Forbes, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, the Huffington Post, and SELF and on CBS. Lui has experience working for Google, YouTube and Apple in online ad sales, product marketing and media roles. She earned her BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis, where she started a full-service hair, nail and tanning salon targeted toward multicultural customers while triple majoring in International Business, Marketing and Spanish. Lui is also a graduate of Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

Teresa Teodori, BSBA ’09, MSF ’09
Head of strategy and chief of staff, Gerson Lehrman Group

Teresa Teodori

After graduating from Olin, Teresa Teodori joined McKinsey & Company in Dallas, focusing on serving private equity clients on both due diligences and portfolio company work. She moved to New York City in 2011 to join New Mountain Capital, a middle-market private equity firm with over $15 billion in AUM, where she led two private equity investments, multiple debt investments and several add-on acquisitions. While there, she became the first female vice president on the private equity team.

Teodori then took on a new challenge at Platform Specialty Products, a highly acquisitive public company in the specialty chemicals space. She ran the integration of the three agricultural chemicals businesses Platform acquired, and then ran R&D strategy, driving the investment process for and management of $100 million in annual spend. Last year, Teodori joined Gerson Lehrman Group, a leading B2B platform business that connects clients with insights to power better decisions, as head of strategy and chief of staff to the CEO. She has worked closely with the CEO articulating a new strategy, vision and purpose statement for GLG, as well as with the broader leadership team to drive execution.

Teodori currently serves on the Olin Alumni Board, as an executive chair on her WashU reunion committee and in Olin’s mentorship programs. She also sponsors a scholarship in loving memory of her late grandmothers, Myra Buonocore and Philomena Teodori.