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.

Diana Zeng, BSBA ’14, thought she would explore St. Louis during her four year degree and then head back to Boston. The first didn’t happen. And luckily, neither did the second.

After moving to the United States and growing up near Chicago, New York, and Boston, Diana was looking forward to getting to know St. Louis while studying business and art at Washinton University. Quickly though, she became immersed in campus life and rarely explored the city.

Founding member and CEO of Full Circle - Diana Zeng

Founding member and CEO of Full Circle – Diana Zeng

“The campus bubble is simultaneously lovely and enclosed. There are endless organizations to get involved in, so without a channel to explore St. Louis, it can be easy to forget that an entire bustling city exists outside of WashU’s campus. When I did manage a rare glimpse, I was charmed by the character of the city.  After a summer internship in St. Louis through the Skandalaris Center, I was introduced to the entrepreneurial energy and incredible people making an impact here. I didn’t just want to get to know the city anymore, I now wanted to be a part of it!”

Post-graduation, Diana transitioned from working at a tech startup to leading a nonprofit start-up called Full Circle. The organization’s mission is to connect young talent to St. Louis and build a more economically vibrant and inclusive city in the process. She is the founding Executive Director but gives credit to her team and numerous community leaders for believing in this larger economic development effort to make St. Louis a hub for young talent.

“Our founding team consists of WashU, Saint Louis University and Illinois College alums from four countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Indonesia, and China. In a lot of ways, we represent the potential that can be captured here. There are many missed opportunities when we don’t connect young talent coming from all over the world to this city and its people. Through Full Circle, we can offer young people a channel to explore St. Louis and a community of peers to be energized by. Additionally for students, getting to know people in their mid-twenties shows them what making a life in St. Louis could be like.”

Modeled after successful efforts in Philadelphia and Baltimore (which has increased student retention from 29% to 51% in the past decade), Full Circle aims to uniquely highlight St. Louis. Their programs and events introduce young talent to professional, social, and civic opportunities in the city while putting a fun and funky twist on networking to help form genuine relationships.

beef+and+a+toast+-+with+love+from+stlFor example, CITYTREK focuses on exploring local events and hidden gems in the city while Beef And A Toast, held in partnership with Venture Cafe, focuses on discussing “beef” (issues) within St. Louis and toasting to being part of the solution.

Student interest from Washington University, Saint Louis University, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and University of Missouri – St. Louis has also encouraged Full Circle to roll out a campus ambassador program for all of the regional colleges and universities.

“Recently, a WashU sophomore emailed me stating, ‘Full Circle is an organization that I have been trying to find to get involved in.’  That meant the world to us!  The economic benefits are substantial but hearing from an individual about how much we matter to them, that moves us to keep going. I love St. Louis and am proud to call it home, so being able to connect people through Full Circle is extremely fulfilling. Investing in people becomes a direct investment in St. Louis as well.”

If you want to get in touch with Diana to learn more, or support Full Circle, you can reach her at diana@fullcirclehq.org.

Written by guest blogger, KC Friedrich, Senior Associate Director for Development, Olin Business School.

December 5, 2016 was a day for celebrating at Olin. After news broke that Olin’s Undergraduate Program was ranked #1 by Poets & Quants, the students, faculty, and staff were invited to gather in the Piper Hallway in Simon Hall.

To celebrate, the Undergrad Office and the Marketing & Communications department had assembled an amazing array of goodies with only a few days’ notice.  The celebration included pretzels in the shape of a 1, St. Louis’ famous Ted Drewes frozen custard, pizza, and cupcakes. Students also enjoyed takeaways, including t-shirts, water bottles, and selfies at the photo booth.

One of my favorite things about Olin is the sense of community we foster, and Monday’s celebration showcased just that.

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Studying abroad in Ireland has always been a dream of mine. I had the opportunity to fulfill that dream this semester. Ireland is a beautiful country and I have enjoyed exploring it. I have seen so many castles that remind me of scenes from Frozen. I have crossed the Rope Bridge and seen Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

While in Europe, I have visited other countries. I spent my Easter Break traveling with a wonderful group of friends. I got to sit on the beach in Barcelona and relax. I got to see palaces in London and I have decided I want one. I have gotten to eat pizza, pasta, and gelato every single day while in Italy. It has truly been a semester of experiencing beauty in this world.

While studying abroad has afforded me the opportunity to explore the beauty of the world, I have also seen hate and ignorance. I knew that as a black woman, my experience might be different than the narratives I have heard before. I racial slurs spouted at me in Florence. I have heard people openly talk about white males having a harder time entering medical school. I have been stared down on the streets because I am such a novelty. While these are my personal struggles, I have also seen the bombings in Brussels affect the continent. I have heard waiters talk about refugees being the reason for increased rape. During the time I have been abroad, I have seen the widespread effect of intolerance for difference.

During my time abroad, I feel as if I have experienced some of the best and worst this world has to offer. I have learned so much about myself. I now know that working abroad after graduation would not be ideal for me. I have learned to be fearless while exploring. I have learned that I am capable of doing so much more than I thought before this semester. I am also learning how I am seen in this world because of the identities I hold. This semester has prompted me to be confident in the power of my existence. I have had to believe in my value, strength, and power. I am a better, wiser human for studying abroad. Most importantly, I have awesome pictures as proof.

Assiatou Jallow is a sophomore majoring in Entrepreneurship and Marketing. She is currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland. 

Professor Glenn MacDonald’s Economics of Entertainment has been a popular  course for business school students for several years. Starting next fall, students will be able to pursue a Business of Entertainment minor based on an interdisciplinary combination of courses.  (more…)