Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Nina Gerson, BSBA ’17. Nina works as an investment banking analyst at Union Square Advisors.

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

I am currently in my second year as an investment banking analyst at Union Square Advisors, a boutique investment bank that advises technology companies on M&A and late-stage private capital raising. Upon completion of the analyst program this summer, I will be joining CapitalG (formerly known as Google Capital) as an investor on their growth equity team.

I believe having an undergraduate BSBA from Olin helped set me apart from other candidates during recruiting for investment banking. Moreover, Olin’s supportive, close-knit community provided me with the resources to explore and prepare for a career in finance.

Olin has a very entrepreneurial environment. While at Olin, faculty supported me and my peers in our efforts to build out the Washington University Investment Banking Club (WUIB), WUIBWomen and bringing Adventis to campus to teach financial modeling. I cannot stress enough how important it is to take advantage of the opportunity to tap the bright network of students, faculty and staff within Olin for support, ideas and collaboration.

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

The first class I took at Olin, Management 100, was a defining moment in my college journey. I vividly remember working in a group on a HBS case study on Southwest’s business model. I was drawn to the applied nature of the case study method and the collaborative, group work environment that is present in most of Olin’s classes. Once I was exposed to this method of education, I quickly switched from a pre-law track into the business school.

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

Since I graduated two years ago, I have lived in both SF and NYC. Both cities are hubs for Wash U grads and have a great community – both professionally and socially. Olin and its associated professional clubs do a great job of encouraging students to reach out to alumni and I love to hear from current students and stay involved via their outreach.

Why is business education important?

Graduating with a BSBA prepared me for the technical, conceptual and applied aspects of financial concepts that we work with on a daily basis in investment banking. In addition, my classmates and I received the gift of a national professional network that we can tap post-graduation, an opportunity most students only have after earning an MBA.

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

Seize the years you have at Wash U and in Olin. Olin’s students, faculty and staff are eager to mentor, advise, collaborate and support each of you. This is a special moment where you have an incubated environment of striving individuals with similar goals and hopes as your own. I encourage you to use this time to explore your personal and professional ambitions to the fullest.

OAri Lewine, BSBA ’09, co-founder and chief strategy officer of TripleLift, was recognized for his innovative contributions to the advertising industry with over-the-top (OTT) marketing.

Lewine was named a Broadcasting & Cable 2019 Digital All-Star for his work at TripleLift. The 12 All-Star executives have not only made a great impact over the past year, but also blaze a trail for the future.

During Advertising Week in September, Lewine was featured in the Native Disrupter series. He spoke about how brand integration, specifically with over-the-top marketing, can combat ad-free experiences within on-demand subscription services such as Netflix.

“People are used to an ad-free experience, but the cost to produce content keeps going up, so the big challenge is to create program and brand integration, to get the brand message into content,” Lewine said in an interview with B&C. “We want to use new technology to create ads relevant to viewers.”

TripleLift uses over-the-top market tactics to bring new ways of advertising onto screen. “Overlay” ad techniques place relevant ads in the corner of the screen during programming, while “brand insertion” techniques insert ads onto blank space, like a billboard, during programming.

Lewine sees the future of the advertising industry focusing on the needs of individual consumers.

“We’ve gotten really good at understanding who our customer is, how we can reach them, and how we can see whether ads are working,” said Lewine in an interview during Advertising Week. “Now the question is, now that we’ve found that person, what are we actually delivering? What is the message? What does the message look like?”

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Julie Cole, BSBA ’17.

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

I am part of the presidential associate program (rotational program) at the Estée Lauder Companies, in the responsible sourcing (sustainable procurement) rotation. The program has various tracks, and being an operations and supply chain management/marketing major at Olin, I chose the supply chain track. Without a degree in supply chain, I would not have been able to choose this track.

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

Dr. Durai Sundaramoorthi definitely had the biggest influence on my life. I was able to be a teaching assistant for quantitative business analysis for several years, which provided me with leadership opportunities and people management skills, along with the chance to report to Dr. Durai, similar to how I report to a manager at work. I use these skills every day as I am spearheading a new initiative under the responsible sourcing team. I project manage, collaborate and share progress with the team and report to senior leadership on my work.

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

I live in New York City and am fortunate to see many of my Olin classmates who live here or come to visit. Some of my closest friends I met on Day 1 when I found out they were on my Management 100 team.

Why is business education important?

Being in a rotational program, I switch from team to team every six months. Doing so, I touch so many parts of the business, many of which I learned about during business school. Though I majored in operations and supply chain management and marketing, I have to talk with other teams, like finance, very frequently. Because I took finance classes during my four years, I can participate in the conversation, share ideas and ask questions.

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

Enjoy what you do! I chose OSCM as my second major because I enjoyed the coursework and I chose to be on the responsible sourcing team at work because I am passionate about what we do. Work is so much better when you are personally invested in it.

Also—network, network, network! Network at your internship, network at school, network on an airplane. You never know who you will meet. As an intern, I was contacted by a senior vice president, a fellow Olin graduate, who mentored me throughout my internship and pushed for me to be on the supply chain track of my program (something that had only ever been allowed for those with graduate degrees).

Miranda Lan is in the back row, far left.

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Miranda Lan, BSBA ’17.

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

I work for Capital One as an HR Consultant (HRC) in our Plano, Texas, office. Olin empowered me to drive my own career and explore many different business areas through its many courses, extracurriculars, corporate partnerships/events, case competitions, etc. I had the opportunity to pilot the Small Business Initiative consulting program, run research studies for the consumer behavior lab, write a group thesis for an honors in management distinction, intern for a startup through the Skandalaris Center and so much more!

Ultimately, as a teaching assistant for management communication and a leader in Phi Gamma Nu (professional fraternity), I concluded that I wanted to pursue a career focused on empowering others to reach their full potential.

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

Hands down Staci Thomas and her management communication class influenced my life the most. The course itself taught me innumerable practical skills for the workplace, and I loved it so much that I turned around and became a TA the following semester (and did so for every semester after that until I graduated!).

Stacy encouraged and mentored me, always seeking out feedback on how to improve the course. Just knowing that there are great teachers and advisors at Olin who are willing to go above and beyond to help their students is one of the reasons I try and do the same as a young alumni.

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

The bonds I built with my Olin classmates and friends mean the world to me! My apartment is cluttered with photos of great memories with my PGN buddies, my study abroad cohort, and more. I keep in touch with many through social media, but beyond that, I make it a point to see people face-to-face whenever possible.

Whether I’m visiting San Francisco, Chicago or New York City, or others are coming to the Dallas area, I reach out and let them know I’m around. It’s a warm and gratifying feeling to know that I have friends around the US and world who cheer me on and whom I can cheer on too.

Why is business education important? 

A business education, and especially an Olin education, has immense value in its combination of breadth and depth of topics. “Business” does not happen in a vacuum; the breadth of courses covered in the Olin curriculum equips students with the knowledge to see big-picture concepts and make connections across industries, functions, etc.

Depth is equally important because business advancements cannot be made without subject-matter expertise. The courses I took in consumer behavior, labor economics, and negotiations gave me the skills I need to excel in my role today. And, Olin goes the extra step to provide countless opportunities to apply those skills through hands-on, experiential learning.

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

Explore and experiment. Olin and WashU create the perfect setting to try something outside of your comfort zone—and who knows? You may end up finding a new hobby and making new friends along the way.

I worked with the WashU racing team (yes, they build real, competitive race cars) on marketing and sponsorships and co-owned the SWAP nonprofit free store.

I cherished these experiences and the amazing people I met through them! These types of opportunities, and groups like the CEL and Skandalaris Center provide endless chances to learn something new every day, every semester. No excuses, just go try it.

Pictured above: Miranda Lan is in the back row, far left.

Max Liu, BSBA

Max Liu, BSBA ’95, wants to make financial services more accessible, while accelerating financial inclusion for the unbanked population in Asia. Toward that end, the Hong Kong-based entrepreneur cofounded and runs EMQ, a financial technology innovator that is building a financial network across Asia with a focus on remittance.

The company just closed a $6.5 million round of funding last month. Liu founded EMQ in 2014 to offer cross-border remittance services between two countries at a fraction of the price of conventional banks, providing secure and affordable money transfer options for businesses and individuals.

Olin’s Nancy Barter, senior director of development, caught up with Liu a few months after he met Dean Mark Taylor during a visit to Hong Kong.

Tell us more about the work you’ve done at EMQ.

We developed our entire business from a compliance and regulatory perspective by partnering with banks and established payment partners. We also spent years to make sure our networks are fully compliant end to end, and that we abide by all rules and regulations in every country we operate in.

Today, we have established a resilient and regulatory-approved remittance network with an extensive last-mile distribution footprint across North and Southeast Asia‎.

We also have built a strong partner ecosystem of financial institutions, digital wallets, telecom companies, and traditional money transfer providers (cash pick-up), amassing thousands of distribution points across North and Southeast Asia.

How did your Olin education affect your career?

Olin is a welcoming community. Relationships between the student body and faculty are very unique.

Faculty members are committed to our education and future. They always encourage us to think hard, ask the big questions, find inspiration—and our passion.

We can actively engage with professors, dig deep into specialty areas, customize coursework with electives, immerse ourselves in global programs, and collaborate with organizations of all types and sizes. It creates a great platform for our future career.

What course or faculty member influenced you most?

Every single person I have met at Olin has influenced my education in some way or another, but the diverse and supportive community—a unique blend of cultures and beliefs—had a profound impact on me.

I found thought leaders, world-class faculty, and global alumni passionately sharing their advantages with me. I learned a lot of business knowledge and gained valuable hands-on experience through my engagements.

Was there a “defining moment” in your WashU experience?

I was a part of Olin’s Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, which provided me with the resources and networking opportunities necessary to foster entrepreneurship. I learned from aspiring entrepreneurs at Olin and attended conferences across the United States and Asia.

My trip to Beijing in 1992 to meet entrepreneurs and businessmen across different industries taught me to creatively solve problems—and adapt to change and people from all different backgrounds and perspectives—to reach my goal.

How would you counsel today’s Olin students to focus their education and career-building efforts?

As an entrepreneur running EMQ, passion is very important to me. The things I was most passionate about were being able to see a problem and figuring out a way to solve it by making financial services more accessible to businesses and individuals.

When times get tough—which they always do in the startup environment—it was my passion that drove me and helped me persist. 

When we are passionate about something, we work harder, we get more creative, we search more diligently for solutions. When difficult problems arise, we inspire others who work alongside us.

How do you stay engaged with Olin and Washington University?

Olin and Washington University maintain an exceptionally close bond with the university and the alumni. Whenever people from Olin and Washington University take a trip through the Asia Pacific region, I always get an email inviting me to attend an event—or, sometimes, have a deep-dive conversation with a faculty member, as I did with Dean Mark Taylor’s recent visit to Hong Kong.

During my recent breakfast meeting with Dean Taylor, we spoke about the fintech ecosystem in Asia and ways we can provide more opportunities for the students at Olin and Washington University.

Following this breakfast, I was connected to Cliff Holenkamp, who runs Olin’s entrepreneurship program and has a passion for building businesses and laying the proper foundation to groom future entrepreneurs. I was also connected to Greg Hutchings of Olin’s Weston Career Center to connect the companies in Asia to the talent pool at Olin.

As an entrepreneur myself, I believe in the power of entrepreneurship; it’s great to share my stories of triumphs and challenges to give insightful vision to the next generation of students and entrepreneurs and continue to inspire and motivate them to reach their goals.