Tag: Brookings Executive Education

Last month, the Impact Investing Symposium returned to Olin. In it’s second year, the Symposium brought together professionals in finance, foundations, social justice, and government to discuss the potential for impact investing in St. Louis. What a turnout: 180 attendees across industries and experience of impact investing.

The afternoon began with a keynote interview with Nicole Hudson, exploring the work of the Ferguson Commission and what types of projects are ripe for investment in St. Louis. The Ferguson Commission was crucial in advancing a community understanding, response, action plan and forward steps after the shooting of Michael Brown in North St. Louis. Like all community action, the initiative needed tangible measures for impact as well as buy-in from an entire community, across backgrounds and city/county lines.

The necessity for common language and common ground is paramount for impact investing: we need voices of the under-served, perspectives of the financiers, and mediators who can find the common goals. That’s what makes the Impact Investing Symposium unique. It’s a rarity to get folks of these industries in the same room, having a conversation, exchanging dialogue, looking forward.

This year’s panel expanded on a discussion of last year: why impact investing is imminent. Mike Eggleston shared community survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis while David Desai-Ramirez articulated ways for individuals and institutions to take direct action in impact investing: speak with a conduit social enterprise like IFF or Justine PETERSEN. Symposium veteran Tim Coffin shared the traditional finance mechanisms in place for investing with impact and Heather Cameron contributed macro level understandings of community impact. Jake Barnett, mediator, delivered a final parting challenge: “integrity is the proximity of one’s values to their actions.”

The conversation on changing mindsets and redefining “return” will continue – but the Symposium is ready for it’s next iteration: what are actionable steps? How can Olin be at the forefront of impact investing? Where should St. Louis focus it’s resources, intellect, and innovation?

We left the Symposium with the following directive: what projects can we support as individuals, investors, and community members? Have ideas? Be in touch – we’re ready to move forward: impactinvest@wustl.edu.

The Impact Investing Symposium was founded, organized and implemented by socially-minded Olin MBA students. We intend to keep this mission alive at Olin: bridging finance and social impact. To support this initiative or make further inquiry regarding potential future sponsorship, please contact impactinvest@wustl.edu. This event was sponsored by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation and hosted by Net Impact, the Weston Career Center, and Olin Business School.

If you’re one of the more than four thousand political appointees taking office in the new Trump administration, this book is a must-read. Leading in Government is based on management questions from career civil servants across the federal bureaucracy. The author, a professor of organization and strategy at Washington University in St. Louis, provides advice that reveals helpful leadership insights on the inner workings of government agencies and departments.



“Leadership in the federal government is more challenging than in any other sector,” says Nickerson who is Director of Brookings Executive Education (BEE)*, a partnership of the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and Olin Business School at Washington University. “It’s challenging because public leaders have at least 535 bosses (elected members of Congress), political appointees turnover frequently, and the budgeting and authorities processes that make coordination and collaboration across government difficult.”

During a presidential transition, the thousands of political appointees who are put in charge of the legions of career civil servants are often at a great disadvantage when they assume their new posts according to Nickerson. “Challenges arise with transitions because of new priorities and directions and the sudden flood of new political appointees, many of whom have little direct leadership experience in government.”

“Leading in Government is a must read and important for anyone, civilian or military, tasked with the onerous responsibility to help mitigate the security and stability issues facing our nation and the world.”Martin R. Steele, Lieutenant General, US Marine Corps (Retired)

Leading in Government provides new thinking about how public leaders on the front lines can respond to a wide variety of real leadership challenges, dilemmas, and problems found in government. The book covers leadership issues confronted by civil servants at different career stages in a problem-solution format based on questions submitted to Nickerson’s column published on Government Executive’s website.

In Leading in Government, readers will learn about:

  • how managers can promote innovation
  • how managers can build trust
  • maintaining a motivated workforce when faced with budget cuts
  • navigating conflicts in a politically polarized environment
  • the 28 leadership competencies or Executive Core Qualifications, known as “ECQs,” created by the Office of Personnel Management as a model for executive leadership development

nickerson-book-coverLeading Thinking®, a leadership philosophy developed at Brookings Executive Education, provides the foundation for the approach to problem-solving guidance throughout Leading in Government. Nickerson suggests that the three central ideas of the philosophy are helpful to experienced as well as newly appointed political leaders:

  • Leaders should stop, think, act, and reflect.
  • Leaders must engage in thinking by comprehensively formulating their challenge before trying to resolve it through a process of inquiry. Doing so helps to overcome individual and group biases that all too often lead to solving the wrong problem and stimulating internal politics and battles that destroy worker engagement.
  • Leaders must reflect. The most useful reflection approaches lead to changes in thinking patterns and the constant striving to be better thinkers and leaders.

Linda M. Springer, former Director, US Office of Personnel Management, and a member of President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, recommends Nickerson’s book to leaders at all levels of government:

“At a time when the responsibilities facing public servants are so consequential, this volume is a welcome addition,” she said. “It is to be hoped that current and future government leaders will take hold of these insights and put them into practice.”

Leading in Government is available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

*Brookings Executive Education (BEE), is a partnership of the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. and Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. BEE offers leadership courses and degree programs for middle and upper level government managers. To learn more, visit: brookings.edu/about/exceed

Image: Gage Skidmore Donald Trump speaking at CPAC 2011 in Washington, D.C.

Washington University’s Executive MBA students traveled to Washington D.C. for a 4-day immersion program focused on policy entrepreneurship, hosted by Brookings Executive Education (BEE). The first cohort made the inaugural trip in March of this year.

The October four-day immersion provided students with an opportunity to engage with policymakers and witness how policy is formulated. The experience not only allowed the business leaders to form valuable relationships, but also gain knowledge essential to formulating business strategies, both domestic and international.

Prior to attending a reception at the Embassy of Mexico, EMBA students received a briefing on the role of embassies from BEE Associate Director Ian Dubin. Additional presentations included the role of the Council of the Economic Advisors from Sandy Black at the White House and the most effective ways to work with Congressional staff to achieve business goals from a panel of current Congressional staffers. Former Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former Congressman Bob Carr (D-MI) shared first-hand experiences and reviewed the appropriation and budget process.

“In today’s environment it is more important than ever for business executives to understand the implications policy decisions will have on their business and to know how to interact in the policy process,” said Dubin.

BEE is looking forward to hosting EMBA in 2017.

This month Brookings Executive Education (BEE) launched a new course, “Excellence in Customer Service,” taught by Professor Jackson Nickerson, BEE Director and Associate Dean. The inaugural offering of the two-day course focused on how government can work with limited resources to create a culture responsive to the needs of customers and provide excellent customer service. To help illustrate how some agencies are already working towards excellence in customer service, BEE welcomed former political appointee and startup entrepreneur Phaedra Chrousos.

Phaedra Chrousos

Phaedra Chrousos

Chrousos co-founded the Technology Transformation Service at the U.S. General Service Administration (GSA) and served as its first Commissioner. The mission of the Technology Transformation Service is to help the government build and buy technology solutions that provide experiences designed for the user first. The new service institutionalizes some of President Obama’s most successful digital initiatives and provides a foundation for the government’s ongoing digital transformation.

One of the first projects Chrousos was tasked with at GSA was evaluating and improving the tenant satisfaction survey process. At that time the nine-month process yielded an average response rate of 30 percent. A yearly survey that took nine months to complete did not leave much time to effectively design or implement any suggestions brought forth from the data. Chrousos and her team got to work and determined that one of the biggest factors for low scores is that people did not know who to get in touch with regarding concerns or issues. Data analytics show that creating a 1-800 number was an inexpensive way to gain momentum on the satisfaction survey quickly, at low cost.

As a member of the 18F Digital Service team, Chrousos and her team were asked to support the Department of Education’s goal to make information it had collected on colleges and universities available to potential students. They quickly realized that the web-based design focused on the wrong audience. Instead of focusing on the students who would actively use the information, the initial design was developed with internal audiences in mind.

Research showed that the actual audience (students), did not want the information via a website, but an app. Within three months the data was made available to outside vendors (up and running with 20 different companies) along with specific instructions on how to interface with the Department of Education’s database apps. This approach to development led to substantial savings over the expected cost of a website.

Each example illustrated the importance and the benefits of focusing on excellence in customer service. In each case not only was customer experience improved, but the activities also saved staff time and money.

A former Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the first woman to lead a major US intelligence agency, Letitia A. Long, has joined Brookings Executive Education (BEE) as an Executive in Residence. BEE is a partnership between the Brookings Institution and Olin Business School.

In her new role, Long will work with faculty at Washington University in St. Louis  to deliver cutting-edge, research-based curriculum to equip public leaders with the knowledge and tools they will need to lead during times of transition and instability. Among the courses she teaches is Visioning and Leading Change, which provides leaders in the public sector with tools and processes to successfully facilitate organizational change.

Letitia A. Long

Letitia A. Long

“I have long admired the work of the Brookings Institution and BEE,” Long says. “I am delighted to now have an opportunity to work with highly regarded faculty to incorporate my experiences in organizational leadership and strategic planning. I was particularly drawn to BEE because of its Crossroads of Change framework—a new way to think about whom to engage in the change process, when to engage them, and how engagement may differ across constituencies. It will be a great reflective experience for me, and even more important, an opportunity for current public leaders to learn research-based practical information from someone who has been in their shoes.”

The Brookings Institution and BEE have a long history of tapping top talent among public sector leaders. Long led NGA during critical periods of change and transition, including becoming the first United States agency to adopt open-source software development to aid natural disaster first responders and providing support to the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden.

Starting her career in Naval Intelligence, Long went on to serve as the Deputy Director of Naval Intelligence, and then the first Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence (Policy, Requirements and Resources), the first Chief Information Officer at the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Deputy Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Long currently sits on the boards of Raytheon Company, Urthecast Corporation and Noblis, Inc. She is also on the board of the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs.

“We are delighted that Long has joined our staff. The public leaders who attend courses at BEE have come to expect high-caliber instruction and research-based curriculum that is practical and can be applied as soon as they leave the classroom. Long will help us continue this tradition and provide unparalleled insight to those facing daunting challenges in their organizations,” said Jackson Nickerson, Associate Dean and Director of BEE and Frahm Family Professor at Olin Business School.

Long earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Virginia Tech, a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Catholic University of America and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Strategic Intelligence by the National Intelligence University.