Tag: Building Olin

Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19, submitted Yield Lab content; Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, edited and formatted this CEL blog post.

Many CEL Practicum students have the opportunity to travel internationally to understand business on a global scale. In contrast, The Yield Lab team has a unique experience to work with a local company headquartered in St. Louis that has global impact.

Part of this will include traveling to Dublin to see Yield Lab’s agriculture technology processes in action. The Yield Lab is a family of agricultural technology venture capital funds and accelerators that invest in innovative companies with the potential to sustainably increase food production globally.

“I’m interested in learning more about venture capital and how funds are managed and differ internationally. This is a great opportunity because of The Yield Lab’s international presence. I’m very happy to learn the venture capital structure specifically in Argentina and Ireland.” –Carola De La Torre Cuba

With the support from investors and experienced individuals who nurture startups in the agriculture industry, Yield Lab has recognized tremendous opportunity for growth globally. Since its inception, Yield Lab’s global reach has expanded quickly with additional funds established in Ireland and Argentina. As Yield Lab continues to expand its brand to various regions, an efficient and connected global management structure is vital.

Here’s Where CEL Comes In

The Yield Lab has engaged the Center for Experiential Learning team to address the challenges inherent in the current structure and explore the dynamics of Yield Lab’s expansion plans.

“The content around agricultural technology, venture capital, and how both of these work together is what interests me. I hope to enhance my leadership techniques and also learn from the team—especially with their unique skills and backgrounds.” –Sharon Mazimba

With the support of Washington University in St. Louis, the CEL Practicum team aims to provide The Yield Lab with a recommendation that will facilitate its goal of furthering global reach in agricultural technology venture capital funds and accelerators. The team will focus on developing a scalable structure as new locations join under the Yield Lab umbrella, thus helping the Yield Lab brand grow.

Leading The Yield Lab team is Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19. Sharon will serve as the project manager and main point of contact between the team and the client. The rest of the team—Carola De La Torre Cuba, MBA ’19; Rohan Kamalia, MBA ’18; Ashiq Cherian, SMP ’18; and Meredith Owen, MBA ’19—will serve as strategists to ground all recommendations in data.

“There is so much I want to learn from The Yield Lab and I’m excited to work with knowledgeable teammates. I believe learning does not only happen in the classroom, but is exemplified with experiential projects. Looking forward to learning more about teammates—their talents and specific interests.” –Rohan Kamalia

This team blends diverse cultural backgrounds stemming from Zambia, Peru, India, and the United States with an array of professional experience from doctoral level academia to strong finance and technology backgrounds. The strategic selection of The Yield Lab team exemplifies the breadth and depth of experience and values that the CEL and Olin Business School bring to our partner consulting companies. Each team member is coming in with his or her own purpose and sense of enthusiasm. Get to know the team a bit more here and learn more about their unique passions to create impact for the client.

“I’m excited to work with students in the MBA program, because I feel they bring a vast array of experience. Looking forward to exploring the details of how funds are managed internally and diving into the deal flow structure.” –Ashiq Cherian

“Traveling to Ireland and being able to travel internationally alongside my team is a huge plus! I am also fascinated by agricultural technology and the startup space. Excited to network in the agricultural technology space and create a valuable and meaningful solution for our client.” –Meredith Owen

Stay tuned to hear how their trip goes and how in-person meetings help students deliver impact in part two.

Toyin Umesiri

Chioma Ukeje and Sharon Mazimba, MBA 2019, contributed this post on behalf of the Olin Africa Business Club.

Where can existing business leaders and Olin business students find a market of 1.1 billion people? Or a market that demands innovation in sustainable and affordable agriculture, support for a burgeoning middle class, and action to build new supply chains?

The Olin Africa Business Club will explore answers to these questions and more in its first ever Olin African Business Forum, scheduled for March 30. The morning and early afternoon event includes speakers such as Toyin Umesiri, CEO of Nazaru; Mark Taylor, dean of Olin Business School; Rob Dunlop, regional business director for Monsanto; Anne Toba, CEO and founder of Ripples Foundation; and Ade Osibamiro, Project Manager and consultant for Mastercard.

“Olin Africa Business Club is positioned to elevate and expose Africa’s potential to current and future business leaders,” said OABC President Ony Mgbeahurike, MBA 2019. “This event is a key step in that direction.”

Toyin Umesiri, our keynote speaker for the event, has previously worked in various leadership positions at Walmart is passionate about bridging the gap between companies here and businesses in Africa. She will center her talk around opportunities and the potential the continent has to play a major role in the business world.

We asked Toyin some of her thoughts on key questions relevant to the forum.

What do American leaders need to know about Africa that they do not know?

Africa is a continent whose history is rooted in commerce and not different from other parts of the world like India, Latin America and China. Africa has 1.1 billion people, a quarter of the number of countries in the world, and is home to some of the fastest growing economies.

By 2050, the population of Africa is projected to double and become one of the world’s largest youth workforces. There is a functioning and business side to Africa with a growing middle class on the rise to claim global significance in years to come.

To support this, there are a growing number of leaders working to develop sustainable and affordable food solutions, inclusive health, create new supply chains and build the infrastructure to support seamless movement of goods and services across the continent. With manufacturing steadily shifting from China to Africa, business leaders can no longer ignore Africa.

America leaders will need to develop an effective strategy towards Africa if they want to engage in the market positioned for rapid economic growth in the future.

What do students need to know about Africa and the opportunities there?

We have all read the stories and seen the images depicting Africa has a region of war, famine and diseases. What is missing from the narrative on Africa are the stories that capture the aspirations of Africans: Their triumphs and quest to build successful businesses with global relevance.

The future of Africa is being created by innovators, change agents, entrepreneurs, and global business leaders working hard every day to build solutions that will power Africa’s growing economy.

Technology advancement on the continent of Africa is driving the creation of disruptive solutions and we must develop future leaders who would see and understand where the “world” is going and not only where it has been so that they can help create the future.

What opportunities exist for business leaders in Africa?

Africa offers new markets for US-made products. Similarly, the United States serves as an untapped market for authentic African products—raw and manufactured. For leaders interested in export and import, sustainable agriculture, supply chain, and logistics, they need to start thinking about expanding into Africa.

The Olin Africa Business forum is scheduled for March 30, 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Emerson Auditorium. In addition to Toyin’s talk, two panels are scheduled—one on agriculture technology and a second on leadership—featuring industry experts from companies such as Monsanto and Mastercard.

This forum promises to be exciting, informative, and will highlight the wealth of opportunities on the continent. Click here to get your tickets here now.

With our student consulting projects underway, we wanted to highlight the Center for Experiential Learning teams’ international footprint. This semester, 95 students are packing their bags to travel to five different continents through the CEL Practicum and Global Management Studies program.

From Ecuador to Uganda and India to Madagascar, there is Olin representation all over the globe. But what are these teams doing and how are they delivering business results to various clients?

Some teams are working with nonprofits to combat systemic issues in these regions. A healthcare consultant from Missouri, a software engineer and change maker from India, a globetrotting businessman from Vermont, and a combat medic from California are coming together to consult for a nonprofit in Africa.

The team is collaborating with Mavuno, an organization working to end extreme poverty in eastern Congo by developing “GOs,” or grassroots organizations. Part of their project is analyzing the demand of potential business ventures in Congo. Being on the ground will provide students with a better perspective of the culture, people, and business environment to pose actionable recommendations.

One team is working with a brewery to audit and understand the operations and financials of the company. In doing so, they will learn the inner workings of beer manufacturing and how the process differs from the United States to Germany. Coming from St. Louis, the team will have local knowledge to build upon.

While it is great to create international impact, many teams have the opportunity to consult with a client with operations that extend from St. Louis and abroad. These teams, including The Yield Lab and Missouri Botanical Gardens, will be able to see how local contributions can create impact for a global environment.

Beyond consulting with a singular client, the Global Management Studies teams are getting to dive right into other cultures and experience businesses through tours and travel. Two GMS trips are happening this semester – Japan and Colombia.

These students are taking on the role of being Olin ambassadors by building relationships with business executives and planning company visits. They have been planning for this through a class this past semester and will get to see it all come into fruition now.

So, whether you are passionate about supporting causes abroad or understanding business from an international lens, CEL has a place for you. We are excited to build student interest and global experiences to create business-learning opportunities. Stop into the CEL Hub (Simon 100) to see what programs, clients, or trips could align with your interests.


Julie Kellman, MBA ‘19, an officer with Olin Women in Business, wrote this post on behalf of the organization.

This semester, Olin Women in Business launched the Men As Allies initiative, an exciting expansion that invites men in the Olin community to join OWIB through an official membership track. I was honored to lead the kickoff event in January and I credit the Olin community with making my role that evening easy. The enthusiasm and willingness to listen, learn, and engage was contagious.

The kickoff drew a full house, with attendance reaching 20 percent of current Olin MBA students. OWIB members and officers led discussions to bring together women and men from the community to share experiences and discuss the state of gender equity at Olin and in the business community at large.

The initiative includes events focused on gender equity, action steps to combat unconscious bias, and a weekly newsletter to encourage ongoing engagement. Allies events are designed with two objectives in mind: to open lines of dialogue and create action steps.

We focus on two-way conversations in small groups to impart the often unspoken details of our experiences, whether as a woman in business or as an ally with good intentions. With open dialogue, we can navigate unfamiliar terrain together. Our primary goal is to build common ground and expose unconscious biases that are held by both men and women alike.

Beginnings of the Initiative

Last fall, OWIB recognized anecdotal interest in creating a community partnership with men on campus. Men in the Olin community approached OWIB seeking to learn ways to combat gender disparities in business. Together, we’ve launched the Men As Allies initiative to provide a clear path for engagement and everyone is welcome.

Our first step was to verify the interest through survey data, which showed a desire for small group discussions in which to digest gender equity in current events and share concrete steps to support women in our community and beyond.

At OWIB, our goal is to provide tools and a structured partnership between men and women to enable Olin members to fight for gender equity together. We need to normalize conversations of inclusion and gender equity in order to achieve meaningful cultural change.

What is an ally? An ally is someone who takes active steps to advocate for a group that is not their own. That can take many forms; I encourage you to explore what being an ally means to you and what steps you are comfortable and able to take. This is not a one-size-fits-all process and self-reflection is key.

Joining a Wider Movement

Right now is a great cultural moment for allies! We’re joining a movement. Olin Allies is partnering with MBA Allies, a coalition of student-initiated male-allyship groups at top business programs across the country.

Further, industry-leading firms such as McKinsey and Goldman Sachs have put their money where their mouth is and invested heavily in gender equity programs. For any ally, the annual McKinsey Women in the Workplace report is a great place to start (and a quick read!)

Since the kickoff, OWIB has introduced a weekly newsletter to encourage ongoing conversation. Each week, OWIB Allies sends an article on gender equity as it relates to the Olin community. Each topic is less than a seven-minute read—less time than the Starbucks line—to engage the community in consistent dialogue. (To subscribe, please contact OWIB through Campus Groups or email me at Jkellman@wustl.edu.)

As our new group gains momentum, we’re looking for more ways to engage the entire Olin community, involve faculty and staff, and update the curriculum to reflect the student body. Keep an eye out for future Men As Allies events on topics such as the business case for investing in women and topical forums for supporting inclusion in the workplace. Our next event is a screening of the movie Battle of the Sexes and discussion cohosted with Net Impact on March 20 from 3:30–6:00 p.m. in Hillman 230.

We are striving for a culture shift and we need all hands on deck to achieve that. I encourage you to continue this dialogue, both formally through the OWIB Men As Allies initiative and organically in your day to day life. The most fundamental action steps we can each take is to normalize conversations on gender equity, ask questions, and consistently cultivate an inclusive, intersectional mindset. At OWIB, we’re thrilled to provide a campus forum for gender equity allies to come together and amplify this crucial conversation.

Written for the Olin Blog on behalf of Bear Studios by Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20.

Young professionals today are far less likely to be drawn to monetary incentives than past generations. As PwC finds, millennials are driven by feedback, fulfillment, and the potential to create impact. They desire to make a difference in their work and reach high levels of social impact.

As I consider my own career ambitions, I find that they align most closely with this idea. I want to use my career as another platform to affect change and create my livelihood from difference-making.

The hardest question to answer is, where do I begin?

In order to begin a journey toward high impact, an individual has to have a healthy degree of impatience. That is to say, the most impactful individuals do not wait until they are at the most ideal state in their lives to make an impact. They act immediately with the resources they have at the time. Most individuals will never feel fully ready or equipped to believe they have the capacity to make real impact, and, therefore, often do not act.

Don’t Wait to Act

What we forget is that our actions are only as strong as our passions, and our passions cannot be cultivated by resources or opportunity—they exist in us inherently. Those who have the passion to create change are those who know that change can’t wait. And neither can their action.

Perhaps this is why I decided to create Olin Business School’s first Diversity and Inclusion Summit on February 9. I recognized a need within the community for dialogue and action on this topic, and while I didn’t have the personal resources to materialize my passion, I knew that by seeking the proper partners, the event could come to fruition. All it took was my decision to begin action.

Lexi Jackson

My team and I planned the Summit for more than five months. We booked speakers from over seven companies and organizations including Uber, Facebook, US Bank, Build-A-Bear, and more. We sought financial assistance of more than five different student organizations before finding success from our central sponsor, the BSBA office. We overcame challenges, celebrated unexpected opportunities, and crafted an event that attracted more than 80 students, faculty, and community members.

At its inception, the summit appeared to be an impossible undertaking. We did not have the resources, brand, or experience to execute a half-day event. However, if we had waited until we felt completely assured of our ability to succeed, we would likely have never succeeded altogether.

Action Leads to Fulfillment

Young professionals must act with the same diligence if they desire to find fulfillment in every stage of their career. I hear all too often that my peers are accepting jobs that do not fully excite them, simply to serve as an intermediary between now and their dream career. However, that does not have to be the case. High impact jobs can be found at every point on the career track and include jobs that are both meaningful AND lucrative. A high-impact job does not have to mean working at a nonprofit or earning lower wages in the pursuit of a greater good.

This understanding is the exact mission of the organization 80,000 Hours. 80,000 Hours was created by two Oxford researchers and philosophers who found that this generation is driven by high impact through a career, but will too often forfeit these positions of change in fear of financial stability.

Therefore, 80,000 Hours serves as a job search platform where users can find positions that produce high levels of social impact without breaking the bank. The jobs are sorted into a plethora of categories and are designed to teach users about the breadth of social impact. For example, with artificial intelligence positioned at the threshold to the future, there is perhaps no higher impact job that one can hold than to research and understand both its dangers and benefits. In this way, users are able to find surprisingly impactful positions that fulfill their interests and leverage their expertise.

As a member of Bear Studios, a student-run strategy firm and LLC, I actively use the resources and knowledge that I can contribute at the time to add value to our clients’ projects. I may not have all the answers, but that does not mean I should not leverage what I do know to make the biggest impact that I can.

When we begin to measure social impact in a different way, we find ourselves more equipped to act. We find ourselves more fulfilled, more involved, more empowered. We find ourselves making a difference. Most importantly, we find ourselves refusing to wait. And that, is where the change happens.

Pictured above: Charlyn Moss (BSBA’20), Lexi Jackson (BSBA’20), Sema Dibooglu (BSBA’20), Claudia Rivera (BSBA’20)

Guest Blogger: Lexi Jackson, BSBA’20, is majoring in leadership and strategic management, political science; she is a strategy fellow at Bear Studios LLC.

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