Tag: Brookings Executive Education

The formal programming of the immersion course in Washington DC began at the Brookings Institution on May 23. Ian Dubin, Associate Director of Brookings Executive Education, the partnership of the Brookings Institution and Olin Business School, welcomed and introduced us to the long history between the Brookings Institution and Washington University. Philanthropist Robert S. Brookings, the founder of Brookings Institution, was also president of the WashU Board of Trustees from 1895 to 1928. Besides devoting his time, Mr. Brookings also gave his fortune, and later his personal estate, to revitalize the university. It immediately reminded us of Brookings Hall and the Brookings Quadrangle back on campus in St. Louis.

The first guest speaker of the day was a correspondent for The New York Times and an author. He briefed us on the political situation in Washington D.C. under the current administration; he saw it as an interesting time in current American politics, especially because one party controlled the the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives at the same time. The Trump administration is seeking a wide range of changes in tax policy, health care policy, and global trade. The speaker also discussed the vital role that automation will play in the US manufacturing industry, offering us another way to think about the future of manufacturing in the US. Later, the Q&A session also covered topics such as over regulation/deregulation, the tax cut, and budget cuts.

Next, we learned from an individual with an impressive resume in academia, high levels of government, and financial institutions. She first gave us a brief introduction to the role of the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA), which is to provide academic views and economic insight on current micro economic and macroeconomic trends to the White House. She then shared with us more insights about serving as an economist with the CEA on a daily basis. Primarily, her role had four responsibilities: consulting on policy process to get certain legislation to pass Congress, advising the President by briefing and writing memos of pros and cons of relevant issues, updating the President on recent research, and providing external reports on certain economic events. She felt honored that their work was highly valued by the President since he incorporated their thoughts into his thinking. Overall, her speech was inspiring and insightful.

After lunch, our next speaker was a fellow in Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution, where he focuses on financial regulation and technology, macroeconomics, and infrastructure finance and policy. Today’s speech was focused on the Dodd-Frank Act, which he has worked on significantly. The act promotes financial stability, accountability, and transparency in the financial systems. He then discussed Dodd-Frank’s significant impacts on the financial regulatory environment, and the balance between economics of scopes and scale and the added costs brought by the Act. Also, he mentioned the fact that the current administration is attempting to roll back certain components of the Dodd-Frank Act and the rationale behind it.

Our speaker then introduced the history of American financial regulations, ranging from Glass-Steagall Act (1933), Community Reinvestment Act (1977), Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404 (2002), to the Volcker Rule (2010). During the Q&A session, he answered one of the student’s questions and talked a little about the geographical distribution of the US population and its regional features.

With the evolution of the influence of the Federal Reserve on financial markets and the implications of the Federal Reserve’s actions on the US economy currently being significant, our final speaker was perhaps the best person to provide insight on the institution. She has a significant history with the Federal Reserve, and continues to monitor it closely. With the U.S. economy in its 8th year of recovery, monetary policy having clearly been effective in the recovery process, is currently not particularly controversial. However, it is expected that over the next 12 months, the Federal Reserve may look to make a couple of small increases in short-term interest rates and attempt to reduce the large size of the Fed’s balance sheet, which is primarily due to the quantitative easing during the Global Financial Crisis (2008).

In a forward-looking view on the U.S. economy, our speaker held a positive view on where things are currently heading. However, she highlighted four significant challenges the country faces moving to the future: the aging workforce, climate change, looming federal debt, and income inequality. She also shared how the Clinton administration was able to generate a fiscal surplus, primarily due to the complementary work done by monetary and fiscal policy.

To conclude her speech, she addressed the causes leading into the Global Financial Crisis and the lessons they had learned or probably should have learned from the Asian Financial Crisis (1997). With the four speakers of the day providing us with insight on a diverse set of topics, we left Brookings for the day only to look forward to what awaits us the next day.

Guest Bloggers: Xin Hu, Krishna Chaitanya Mutya, Hanyi Zhou, Bingjie (Zoe) Zou (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.

Photo: President Obama signs the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010.

Understanding the inner workings of the federal government and how it impacts business through a residency with Brookings Executive Education (BEE) is one of the unique components of the Executive MBA program at Olin. And beginning in March 2018, Olin full-time MBA students will also have the opportunity to take advantage of the Washington D.C. residency that provides an insider’s view of bureaucracy, policy, and process.

Lamar Pierce at Brookings“Our goal with the residency is to cut through the political polarization that dominates the story coming out of Washington,” explains Lamar Pierce, Associate Professor of Organization and Strategy and at Olin and BEE faculty member. “We want our students to understand that most of the people in our capital are committed to helping create a better world, and although they may disagree about how to achieve that, they’re trying to solve the same problems.”

Earlier this month, 36 Executive MBA students (pictured above), traveled to Washington, D.C. to engage with policymakers, senior-ranking officials, and other key decision-makers in the nation’s capital. The BEE four-day immersion program introduces students to practitioners from government, industry, and NGO’s in an experiential format, and allows dialogue with experts that have worked at the highest levels of the White House, Congress, and other policy making institutions. EMBA Class 49 even had one such conversation on the Floor of the House of Representatives, just one week after the President’s address to a Joint Session of Congress.

Brookings_ExecEd_482The program broadens students’ perspectives and offers unique insight into how non-market strategy shapes and frames the institutional landscapes in which firms operate. Through active participation and dialogue, the program reminds leaders in both the private and public sector that the best solutions to complex problems result from healthy collaboration between business, government, and broader society.

BEE is a partnership between two world-renowned organizations: the Brookings Institution and Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. Instrumental to both, St. Louis businessman Robert S. Brookings (1850–1932) founded the D.C.-based think tank and led Washington University’s governing board for 33 years.

Visit the Brookings Executive Education website for more information.

Guest Blogger: Evie Kallenbach, 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.

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