Tag: Brookings Executive Education



This article was originally published in the 2017  Olin Business Magazine.

On a very early spring morning last March, before the tourists could swarm or the business of government could lurch into gear for the day, three dozen Executive MBA students from Olin Business School strolled the quiet hallways of the US Capitol.

The morning Q&A session on the floor of the US House of Representatives—led by a former congressman—marked one of the many stops in an immersive, four-day Washington, DC residency exploring the intersection of business and public policy.

All Olin Executive MBA students (including EMBA Shanghai) are the latest beneficiaries of the unique partnership between Washington University and the Brookings Institution, the highly regarded DC think tank that university benefactor and former board president Robert S. Brookings founded a century ago.

The collaborative relationship is exemplified by Brookings Executive Education (BEE), the “host” of the residencies. Thanks to this insider’s view, students enhance leadership skills by gaining a deeper understanding of how business and public policy mesh—and how they can participate in shaping it.

This behind-the-scenes experience is one Dean Mark Taylor aims to share with every Olin student, capitalizing on the university’s unique relationship with the nation’s premier public policy research institution.

“Our link to Brookings is an incredible differentiator for Olin, with striking opportunities to prepare our students to be well-rounded business leaders,” he said. “We are duty bound to leverage this relationship to its fullest.”

Lessons from the trenches

While in the nation’s capital, students meet congressional leaders, visit foreign embassies, and discuss policy with senior government officials, regulators, and journalists. Overall, BEE’s roster of experts and speakers reads like a who’s who list of Washington movers and shakers, with names such as Marvin Kalb, former Meet the Press host; Carol Browner, former EPA administrator; Ken Duberstein, Ronald Reagan’s White House chief of staff; and former Senate majority leaders Trent Lott and Tom Daschle.

“This is something that is truly quite extraordinary,” said Mary Ellen Joyce, executive director for Brookings Executive Education program. “Other business schools don’t capture this dimension of business operations.”

As Brookings and Olin consider how to expose more students to the partnership, the EMBA residency is seen as something of a model. Bringing large groups of students to Washington requires careful choreography in order to turn Brookings’ deep DC connections into a productive experience.

“The Executive MBA residency has been just a roaring success, partly because we’ve been very, very careful about getting everything just right,” said Lamar Pierce, Olin professor of organization and strategy and director of the school’s Executive Master of Science in Leadership degree program, offered exclusively at Brookings.

Expanding to the Full-Time MBA Program

The expansion of the Brookings-Olin relationship will kick into gear in February 2018, when full-time MBA students from St. Louis will make the DC residency the capstone of their experience.

“This is an order of magnitude more complicated than the EMBA residency,” said Pierce, who will be on hand as two groups of second-year MBA students—70 in each wave—roll into the nation’s capital for a compressed schedule of receptions, roundtables, and Q&A conversations with DC policy makers.

In addition to an appreciation for the policy-making process, students are expected to leave with strategies for how to influence policy through changes in legislation, changes in regulation—even changes in presidential administrations.

“What we hope to do for the MBA students is give them a deeper dive into an area that connects more with their specific area of interest,” Joyce said. “They’ll be long days.”

Creating strong leaders in government

With its founding in the late 1950s, the BEE program was intended to “teach the art of handling problems” to business and government leaders alike. Olin’s Executive Master of Science in Leadership (EMSL) degree meshes well with that mission.

Although the program caters to government employees seeking career advancement, many EMSL students are typically already on top of their game. Pierce said they include high-level administrators in agencies such as the IRS, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland Security—“the people who make sure things get done.”

At any one time, as many as 70 EMSL students are enrolled, dipping into BEE’s flexible schedule of courses as their work schedules permit. BEE faculty tailor case studies to students’ government experience, with students writing papers outlining how they apply classroom concepts to their professional duties. Since launching in 2011, the program has about a dozen EMSL graduates, Joyce said.

“The impact Olin content is having on federal government is incredible,” Joyce said. “We are transforming the federal government one leader at a time.”




Rich Ryffel, Olin’s senior lecturer in finance is the co-founder and co-chair of the annual Municipal Finance Conference hosted by the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution. This year’s conference will be held July 17-18 in Washington D.C. Olin is partnering with Brookings as well as the Rosenberg Institute of Global Finance at Brandeis International Business School and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago to host the 6th annual conference.

Rich Ryffel

The event invites academics, practitioners, issuers and regulators to come together for panel discussions and paper presentations of the latest research in municipal finance. The conference does not charge an attendance fee, but must be attended in person.

To find out more about the muni fin meeting, we asked Rich Ryffel a few questions:

Q: What happens at the Brookings Municipal Finance Conference?

RR: The goal of the conference is to bring researchers and practitioners together to both encourage better research in municipal finance and to encourage the adoption of more scientific policy and practices.

Q: What have been the changes in muni capital markets since the Great Recession?

RR: There have been significant changes in the municipal market since the Great Financial Crisis (GFC).  This includes the consolidation of intermediaries and reduced liquidity, more regulation, more disclosure and less innovation.

Q: Are there ever any surprising revelations from research shared at the conference?

RR: Lots of surprises – practitioners are often surprised to see how the data can reveal conclusions that are not obvious from anecdotal experience. Likewise, researchers are surprised to see how subtleties in the market can be masked when simply crunching large data sets. Thus, the reason to put the two groups together.

Q: Why should people involved in municipal finance attend the conference?

RR: Opportunities abound for education and improvement to better understand market behavior and use that knowledge to create better policy and more efficient government.

Link to more information on the 6th annual Municipal Finance Conference.




May 26 marked the last day of the Global Master of Finance (GMF) immersion courses, and the DC portion will conclude with a full introduction and understanding of the role of Congress in financial regulation.

Our first speaker was a former member of congress; he took a unique angle – from a member’s point of view – to talk about how Congress gets involved in financial services. He started by describing a typical day of a member of Congress, to let us know how they look at financial institutions. It is surprising to know that for twenty years, he worked no less than sixty hours a week, and many times eighty or even a hundred hours. A member of Congress must try to be familiar with virtually every area that impacts their constituents, and spends most of the time meeting with constituents, going to committees, and getting involved in discussions in his or her areas of expertise.

Our speaker then talked about how Congress gets involved in financial services, which is primarily reactively. This means Congress usually does not get involved in financial services until there is some kind of crisis. Our speaker took the 2008 crash as an example, to illustrate how Congress and the Fed responded to maintain economic stability and set up a stimulus policy to resolve the world-wide panic when confronted with a financial crisis. We learned that for most members of Congress, regardless of party, they share a general philosophy to let the markets be markets, let people have the freedom to invest, and then try to set up some kind of safeguards to protect investors so that no one can take advantage of it.

Next, we took a tour of the US Capitol with a former US Congressman. He was a patient and knowledgeable person. During the tour, he introduced the history and some fun stories of the Capitol to us. He was also able to share some insights from a former Congressman’s perspective and an insider’s view.

We visited the original location of the Supreme Court, the Statuary Hall, the House Chamber, and the Speaker’s Lobby. The Statuary Hall, which is the Old House Chamber, displays statues of famous Americans. The most memorable part of the tour was the House Chamber. We were told to leave our bags, notebooks, phones, and other prohibited items in the Speakers’ Lobby before entering the House Chamber. The House Chamber is filled with rows of chairs. Our tour guide told us that the House of Representatives conducts legislative activities here. He also showed us his Congressman card that can be used to vote. When he voted, he would insert his card in a machine, and then would press the button of yes of no. Another interesting point is that in the House Chamber, which is part of the legislative branch, the President of United States can only enter via invitation, and does not sit in the highest chair. Instead, the President sits below the Speaker of the House within the House Chamber.

Then we went beneath the building. There was a very intriguing subway waiting for us, which took us to one of the Capitol office buildings. Our last speaker in Washington had experience in various political and financial areas. He has worked for a private equity firm, a hedge fund, and has participated in many kinds of economic policy settings. His experience itself is a good pattern that teaches us if someone in the finance industry would want to go further, finance knowledge is far from enough.

The speaker started from a very new view in the finance area: that the primary changes in finance always come from progress in technology. He stated that we can really feel the influences from blockchain and other kinds of FinTech rising to the next level. The young generations should pay more attention to it and explore more possibilities in this field. He then spoke about regulation.

Over-regulation is now a hot topic, but he emphasized that over-regulation is at least good for common consumers. He also mentioned that the Fed, SEC, and other regulatory authorities are trying to shorten the regulatory lag, which can seriously impact the effect of policies. One more interesting thing he told us is that any authority still can be wrong. He told us that one high-level person in the Fed considered the mortgage market healthy just before the global financial crisis. What we learned from this speaker is that although we are young now, we should always keep questioning what authorities say and do, and maintain the courage to challenge their voices, and that will help us to contribute more in the finance industry in the future.

We the GMF 2017 cohort are very grateful to have had the chance to learn about the US financial markets and regulation with the insightful speeches from the distinguished practitioners and field trips. This two week immersion course will definitely give us a holistic and deeper understanding of today’s global financial markets and will set the tone for our future studies and careers after graduation.

Guest Bloggers: Shuying (Sunnie) Li, Kedi (Kelly) Ni, Yao (Deborah) Shan, Lei (Isaac) Xia (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.




We began Thursday in Washington, DC by giving a warm welcome to two attorneys from the Carlton Fields Jorden Burt law firm.

The first speaker gave us an overview of regulation and litigation in the financial services sector. He has extensive experience in federal and state securities, as well as insurance compliance and regulatory matters. He introduced the current financial service sectors and their relative sizes.

In the past 20 years, the US Congress has formulated Acts to regulate the market. The first speaker thought that financial entities prefer to deregulate to get more freedom, which results in regulatory tensions–such as the tensions between the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and banks, insurance companies and Banks, and the SEC and Department of Labor (DOL).

Regarding regulation enforcement, there are three parts: inspection and investigation, whistle-blower, and civil or criminal penalties. Finally, the first speaker discussed market discipline, which consists of competition and litigation. To sum up, he introduced the regulation and litigation on financial markets to us in a simple but professional way.

The second speaker presented a short but high-level summary of litigation in financial services, with an emphasis on insurance. This speaker represents insurance companies and financial institutions in a range of complex litigation matters in state and federal courts. He pointed out that as investment products are becoming increasingly complicated, such as hedge funds and private equity, they are facing more litigation risk. He also mentioned concerns about companies making mistakes such as consolidation issues or providing information that is not very clear or extensive. Finally, he brought up the recent trends in Financial Technology (Fintech) and its regulations, which are functions of data they have in the marketplace.

Next, we were very pleased to have a speaker from Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). First, the speaker gave us a brief introduction of CFPB.

It is a very young institution, established in 2011 as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act. The CFPB has consolidated separate financial consumer markets together to better help protect consumers’ interest, promote consumer financial education, and help businesses. One important component of the CFPB is supervision. The bureau reviews the performance of companies to determine their level of legal compliance. The CFPB will do a confidential investigation first, and then turn to public enforcement.

The speaker then shared some CFPB success stories, when fraudulent companies refunded the illegal profits to consumers and paid a large penalty. Last, the speaker introduced other aspects that the CFPB is working on, such as a consumer complaint process, which takes consumers’ complaints and reaches out to related firms to seek resolution. Furthermore, the CFPB is also devoted to consumer financial education. It believes financial well-being should include skills to make smart financial decisions, the capability to face financial shock, a basic degree of financial freedom, etc. Through posting resources online and building relationships with communities, the CFPB is expanding its impact and improving the financial market.

Next on the agenda was a site visit to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Two officials from the public affairs department welcomed us. The presentation started with a clarification regarding the difference between World Bank and the IMF.  For example, the IMF does not provide project financing, such as building a bridge in a developing area. The IMF ‘s global membership does not include the countries of Cuba, North Korea, Andorra, Monaco, and Liechtenstein. Then, the officer continued to talk about the voting shares and structure of the IMF. America owns the largest share in the IMF (16.5%); the other top shareholders also include China and Japan. Finally, new areas of focus for the IMF include inequality and inclusiveness, energy pricing, female labor force participation, and corruption. The speaker also emphasized the importance of males and females working together to resolve inequality between genders.

After returning from the IMF, we returned to the Brookings Institution, where our next speaker gave us an insightful and brilliant speech on financial stability oversight, the Dodd-Frank Act, and the role that the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) plays in maintaining financial stability. In the speech, we learned the history of the FDIC and the areas in which the FDIC focuses.

Created in 1933, the FDIC was established to preserve and promote public confidence in the US financial system. It aims to insure deposits for all US deposit banks, examine and supervise over 4,000 banks, and serve as a resolution authority and receiver for banks and systematically important financial institutions. We then gained an understanding of the contents and roles of the Resolution Plan and how it works. We were impressed with how complex and detailed the FDIC is with regulating banks and other financial institutions.

Guest Bloggers: Yumeng (Yolanda) Jiang, Yanyan Liu, Bo Sang, Zirui (Ernest) Wan, Lingyu Yang (GMF 2017)

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.




We began the day of May 24 with Ian Dubin, Associate Director of Brookings Executive Education, introducing our first speaker, from SIFMA (Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association). Having experience in finance and government, he was able to bestow us with a great deal of insight and a unique perspective on financial regulation.

Ian posed a series of questions to him, leading him to explain that after the global financial crisis, there were many changes and fluctuations in policy. While the Obama administration focused on restructuring the regulatory framework for financial institutions, the Trump administration aims to stimulate economic growth through cutting both regulations and taxes. Thus, it would appear as though America is set to continue on the de-regulatory and re-regulatory path that it has been on since 1990.

After Ian had exhausted his list of queries, we asked the speaker our own questions. He answered a deluge of queries on topics ranging from the President’s proposed budget, to control of rating agencies, to regulator’s understanding of the industries they regulate. All of his responses were very informative and led us to a greater understanding of financial regulation.

After this, we embarked for the United States Department of State. Our speakers began by explaining to us how the United States levies sanctions against foreign entities. Next, our speakers explained the two primary types of sanctions that the United States levies. Primary sanctions are applied to citizens of the United States and prohibit them from interacting with certain entities. Secondary sanctions are applied to non-US citizens to dis-incentivize them from dealing with certain entities. When it is stated that sanctions were levied against a country, this does not imply that sanctions were levied directly against the country. Rather, it implies that primary and secondary sanctions are being used to either freeze the assets of or restrict business with certain powerful entities. These entities are normally either companies, high ranking government officials, or wealthy confidants or political leaders.

After departing the State Department, we returned to the Brookings Institution for our third lecture of the day. Our speaker was from the United States and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (US-ASEAN) Business Council. The US-ASEAN Business Council is an advocacy group that aims to foster economic growth and trade ties between the ASEAN’s ten member countries.

The focus of the talk was on relationship building between the United States and Southeast Asia. He emphasized the importance of Southeast Asia at the beginning of his talk. Southeast Asia is a significant geographic connection center for the global supply chain. It provides plenty of opportunities for American investment, and the relationship between the two regions is of great geopolitical importance. Additionally, Southeast Asia is set to see drastic increases in the percentage of its population that can be classified as middle class. This makes the region a desirable location for American companies to have operations as it would put them near a sizable consumer base. A presence in the region would allow companies to both be better in touch with the wants of their customers and reduce distribution costs. The speaker also noted certain benefits of conducting business in the region. Singapore, for example, has a highly developed infrastructure, a streamlined means of incorporation, very little corruption, and a comprehensive information policy system that allows free flows of global data.

The final speaker of the day was from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. To begin his speech, the speaker demonstrated how different economic ideologies and circumstances could lead to different policies. While the Obama administration focused on correcting market failures and regulating the financial market, the current Trump administration has taken the approach that less government intervention and market regulation were necessary to stimulate the economic growth.

The speaker then used several graphs to illustrate the fact that income inequality in America had increased dramatically within the past ten years. This is an issue that the government will have to address in earnest in the coming years. While the low-income sector of the population recovered much slower than the richest sector did from the economic downturn in 2007 and 2008, a large number of middle-income workers also suffered due to stagnant growth in wages in the post-crisis period. Frustration with this situation led many Americans to vote for a candidate that offered a stark contrast to the Obama Administration in the most recent election. He also introduced an interesting term–“Shampoo Cycle”–to describe the “Bubble-Bust-Repeat” cycle that the American economy has experienced for the past 30 years.

Lastly, we learned of several ongoing challenges facing the US economy. The speaker pointed out that a flat growth in productivity, as well as a large funding gap for infrastructure development, could potentially cause a disruption in the growth of the economy. Additionally, the recent fiscal policies proposed by the current administration seem to be dependent upon overly-optimistic economic forecasts. However, he hopes that the United States will eventually adopt an agenda with which it can truly reach out to those who were “left behind” by globalization and the financial crisis.

Guest Bloggers: Wei Huang, Shaoxuan Liu, Alex Roberts, Qiushi (Ted) Yan, Yawen (Elva) Yang (GMF 2017)

Image: students at the State Department

This is a series of blogs chronicling the experiences of 42 Global Master of Finance (GMF) dual degree students during their two week immersion course in New York and Washington, DC. Each blog will be written by a small subset of students during their experience. Names of speakers and presenters at firms are anonymous at the request of the firms and course organizers.


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