Tag: business school guidance

Can entrepreneurship be taught? This is a question that schools, students and businesses alike have been asking for decades. The answer seems to be yes and no.

People who gravitate toward MBA programs for entrepreneurship will likely bring a natural inclination toward creativity and innovative thinking. They may have already gained some relevant experience, taken educated risks and learned lessons helpful for starting and growing a business. In short, they have an aspiration and drive toward entrepreneurship.

And just as you wouldn’t go to medical school with no interest in becoming a doctor and expect to come out a top-notch physician, an MBA student shouldn’t come unprepared. Rather, they need the drive to learn and a passion for the topics they’re studying to benefit from the experiences and lessons an MBA program has to offer.

What are the benefits of an MBA for entrepreneurs?

According to Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of Blackstone and Poets & Quants’ 2023 keynote speaker, an MBA’s role is to “identify and support young people who demonstrate interest, aptitude and entrepreneurship.” The MBA is there to take people who already think creatively about business and give them the tools to make their ideas a reality.

For Schwarzman, inspiration and ideas are just the beginning. Entrepreneurs must learn to fall in love with the problem so that they can live and breathe its potential solutions with a passion that keeps them going. Turning an idea into reality is difficult. It requires organization, management, resources and so much more, but a leader with an entrepreneurial spirit will have the passion and the know-how to tackle every step of the process. This is where an MBA program can lay the foundation for such leadership.

Finding the entrepreneurial spirit and then fostering and refining that talent is the purpose of an MBA. The benefits of an MBA for entrepreneurs are those of a training ground. A university environment supports and cares for students while a rigorous and challenging curriculum teaches students to problem solve with passion. A network of involved faculty and ambitious cohort members is the cherry on top—the people in a university environment create a collaborative ethos where business ideas can be grown from idea to reality and taken into the world.

How does the Olin experience prepare entrepreneurs to start a business?

At Olin, MBA students take their own inclinations and talents and put them to the test. We prepare students for starting a business after their MBA by giving them time and space to experiment. They can learn, fail, learn again and try out ideas in real-world scenarios, all in an environment that supports them.

One important way we provide this atmosphere is by connecting students to businesses outside the school gates. We associate with startups in St. Louis, company founders in San Francisco and investors in New York City. These professionals have already turned their ideas into living, breathing entities. When they share their perspectives, they help students to see how to take an idea into new markets, how to get funding, how to work with complex teams and innumerable other life lessons from the front lines of business.

Another way we prepare students for starting a business is by infusing entrepreneurship throughout our curriculum. We don’t save it for specialized courses or seminars. It’s everywhere. The university itself has an active entrepreneurial life, with MBA entrepreneurship fellowships and an accelerator class we call “The League” aimed at students who are at the fundraising stage for their ideas.

Most importantly, we give students the tools to network and create business relationships of their own. Faculty, staff, advisors and mentors are all on hand, ready to chat about anything they’re thinking about as they create their businesses. The alumni network is a buzzing hive of information and assistance. And in MBA programs for entrepreneurship, classmates can quickly become collaborators.

The MBA in action

Let’s look at an example of a student who has seized the opportunities of an MBA to learn how to become a better entrepreneur.

Kai Skallerud was a medical student when he came to Olin. He was given a year off to pursue his MBA and turned that year into the foundation for a healthcare business. He just won funding for the business via the St. Louis Inno Madness contest.

“Olin’s MBA program gave me the confidence I needed to take entrepreneurial risks in the real world,” Kai says. “The program’s emphasis on experiential learning allowed me to apply classroom concepts to real companies, and the program’s rigorous coursework helped me develop a deep understanding of business strategy and prioritization, which enables me to identify and act on high-impact opportunities in healthcare.”

Kai was able to use the practical training ground of the MBA to empower his entrepreneurial journey. It enabled him to take risks safely in a supportive community of faculty, staff and fellow students.

Can entrepreneurship be taught and learned? We believe that entrepreneurs emerge from their own experiences and instincts, but that when they find their way to an MBA environment like Olin at WashU, we are ready with a training ground. We take their creativity, their zest for business and their love of problem-solving and give them practical ways to turn those talents into businesses that thrive.

So, while there are many skills and concepts that a potential entrepreneur can only gain from the kinds of experiences an MBA offers, it’s the passion that a student brings to the program that helps make them an entrepreneur and successful business leader.

Five full-time MBA students gathered in close conversation around a table.

Are you hitting a stumbling block when figuring out how to choose the right MBA program? You might have researched an MBA program and what topics it covers, the reputation of the university, the caliber of its faculty and how high-end its facilities are in an attempt to make your choice. But you might have forgotten the most important aspect of your decision: You.

The best way to make such an important decision is not to start with the program but with your own goals and how an MBA can help you meet them. Start by asking yourself a few questions. What are the different types of MBA programs, and does the university you want to attend offer those different types? Which type of program best suits your life, family and future career plans? By evaluating the type of MBA program you want to pursue and why, you can find the program that will best suit your needs and goals.

How to choose the right MBA program for you

There are many different types of MBAs and only one you, so it’s important to spend some time exploring your options. Does a part-time vs. full-time MBA work better for your schedule and goals? What about a professional MBA vs. executive MBA? Do you want a remote, in-person or hybrid approach? These are just some of the questions you should ask to find out what kind of MBA will suit you the best. So, let’s start with the basics to help you answer those questions. 

Do you want to be a full-time student?

This is one of the first questions to ask yourself. Being a full-time MBA student, you’d have the option to live near or on campus. Do you want a campus community to surround you, or do you only want to experience the campus community for class time? There are many housing options available for whichever you decide.

But what if a full-time or traditional model isn’t for you? Do you want a classroom experience, or does a hybrid model with class time and remote time work better for your lifestyle? If you travel a lot for work and want to live a global life, an online MBA might be a great opportunity for you. There are also hybrid options within an online MBA that allow you to select on-campus classes if you’re looking to experience an in-person classroom from time to time.

And if you do decide that you want an in-person MBA experience, there are different options to consider. For example, at Olin, we have a Professional MBA and an Executive MBA. Both are in-person programs but cater to different career stages.

What does the place feel like?

The first step for students is to visit or get in touch with an admissions team. These are the people who can answer your questions and help you make decisions for your academic and professional life. They host informational sessions, drop-in meetings and tours. Each of these visits should help you piece together a picture of what the university offers you.

Take advantage of any opportunity to visit a campus or classroom. Get a taste of the atmosphere, the teaching environment, the cohort and the culture. Can you see yourself there?

How will this program support your career?

Explore the kinds of opportunities that exist on and off campus. How will this program support the career you’re picturing for yourself?

Ask questions about job placement rates, internships and connections to local businesses. Are there immersive experiences available? How often and in what ways can you connect with career resources? Who’s going to help you choose your classes?

What will your financial experience be like?

Students need to be honest about their financial statuses and ask themselves: “Do I have the support I need?” and “Am I at a place in my career where I feel like I can take part in a full-time program?”

Affordability will vary depending on your program and your choice of study mode. In St. Louis, the cost of living is comparatively low for a city in the U.S., and the Olin MBA offers many scholarships. It’s a good option for those who want to experience a city and MBA in a manageable way.

How does the Olin MBA fit in?

The MBA programs at Olin are all designed with students’ potential needs in mind. We know that many factors are at play when students decide where and how to study. So, we have created a portfolio of programs that allow us to meet students where they are.

To start, we have baked a level of flexibility into our programs. Different versions of the MBA offer different time and location commitments. We have a highly ranked full-time program for students who are ready to take an intensive, full-time leap. We also have equally amazing but more flexible programs designed for professionals who want to broaden their education while continuing to work.

We have added further layers of flexibility by blending some of the online and part-time MBA electives. This way, those studying remotely can still choose in-person sessions to suit them and gain the benefits of experiential learning without sacrificing their chosen learning style.

What’s more, the atmosphere of St. Louis—with its 2.7 million residents and low cost of living—offers a phenomenal starting place for students as they grow their businesses and careers. The city is home to nine Fortune 500 companies, and Olin has developed relationships with many organizations in the area, giving students further opportunities to network and find their own paths to success.

Opportunities to visit a class and get a feel for the community are available. Please contact admissions staff through email at OlinGradAdmissions@wustl.edu or call us at 314-935-7301. You can also check out our events page for time and details of scheduled MBA events.

Woman finger touching virtual screen with forex diagrams and graphs. Digital financial data analysis and global statistics. Concept of managing big data.

Business leaders need to hone a diverse range of skills and qualities before they can raise a successful business. They need to open their toolbox and see an array of skills and lived experiences that they can select and wield in any new situation. Understanding and using big data is one of those tools that no leader should be without. 

While many skills can be learned through work experience, certain ones, such as big data management, can be learned through a classroom MBA experience with knowledgeable guidance and instruction. The faculty members at Olin Business School at WashU are well-versed in both managing data and making empowered decisions based on data.

The business value of big data and data-driven leadership skills

Why is the Managing Big Data course such a key feature of the Olin MBA?

The course evolved in response to the world becoming increasingly reliant on data. We live in a digital age, and data is one of organizations’ most valuable assets. Data-driven decisions guide modern successful businesses; they collect vast amounts of data from various sources—customer interactions, social media and almost every other online channel—in order to accurately interpret and predict what their audience needs and wants.

The business value of big data is massive because the benefits of data-driven decision-making are so various and transformative. Data on its own is pretty meaningless, but when mined for its insights, it can suddenly prove and demonstrate all sorts of truths about businesses and their audiences.

Big data management isn’t just how organizations work now; it’s also how they win. Companies that effectively manage and analyze their data gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. They can make better-informed decisions, develop targeted marketing strategies and identify new business opportunities.

This is why the Managing Big Data course is a crucial stepping stone for students preparing to work in an environment where they will need data analytics skills to survive. At Olin, we have created many courses that put data at the heart of business, but Managing Big Data is one of the most foundational courses for learning how to gain insight into customer behavior and pursue better business strategies.

What does the managing big data course teach students?

As this course has evolved, it has reacted to how students are learning and thinking in today’s business world. When we first started talking about big data, students didn’t know how to store, manipulate and retrieve data that didn’t fit into their computing machines. The term “cloud computing” was around, but students didn’t yet understand its advantages.

We introduced the course to answer these questions. As industries race to get more data, the demand for such skills grows, and students need big data skills to get their feet in the door. To better prepare students to face the challenges and decisions they will make leading their organizations, Managing Big Data focuses on how to:

Continue learning as big data evolves

Students need to know how to learn data analytics. The learning process will continue as they graduate and grow their businesses because data itself is growing all the time. The course equips leaders with the skills to analyze large volumes of data and extract meaningful insights to inform decision-making. By learning to use these tools and techniques, students also learn how to apply their education in the real world and continue to learn from those real-life experiences.

Understand customer behavior

In today’s business environment, understanding customer behavior is crucial for success. This course teaches leaders how to analyze customer data and identify patterns and trends in customer behavior, which can inform marketing strategies and product development decisions. By understanding customer behavior, leaders can make more informed decisions that align with the needs and preferences of their target markets.

Effectively manage risk

Managing risk is a critical business function in today’s world, where bold decisions are often needed to sustain a company in a difficult economy. Managing Big Data teaches leaders to use data analytics to identify potential risks and develop mitigation strategies. By understanding the potential risks associated with different actions and decisions, leaders can gain a bird’s eye view of their businesses and chart the best course to address or avoid problems.

Big data is not just a current trend but also the future of business. The volume and complexity of data will only continue to grow and become an important influencing factor in business decisions. If students can learn to leverage big data, they will be well-positioned to succeed in the marketplace.

Man with briefcase preparing to climb spiral staircase made of books.

The job market has been in a state of flux over the past year, if not since the beginning of the pandemic. When business leaders head into the marketplace, this era of rapid evolution can be disorienting. 

There’s an extra layer of confusion for leaders looking to make a change in their careers and new leaders setting out to follow their visions for their first ventures. They may not know how to begin or what skills will be the most beneficial in landing and succeeding in a job. This is where an MBA can help.

An MBA experience can strengthen the breadth and depth of skills needed for leaders to lead effectively and open up opportunities in a tricky job market. The skills and experience of an MBA can prepare a leader for a long-term future in business even as the world continues to fling challenges their way.

What does an MBA teach you?

The first way that an MBA degree can bolster a leader’s skill set is by providing a strong foundation with knowledge of business fundamentals. At Olin Business School, our core curriculum is designed to give students a holistic understanding of various business functions,  including marketing, supply chain management, data analytics and equity, diversity and inclusion.

Exposure to these courses enables students to develop the business acumen needed to make informed decisions, drive growth and navigate complex challenges, no matter where their career takes them next. MBA programs also focus on developing the softer skills needed to succeed as a leader. Communication skills can be honed through real-world scenarios and experiences with members of an MBA cohort. Hands-on challenges are vital for leaders trying to adapt to a fast-evolving market.

Digital literacy and creativity are also going to be fundamental. Creative thinkers who can work more closely and effectively with artificial intelligence will be able to take advantage of changes in work and learning environments. At Olin, the MBA program exposes students to digital literacy platforms, such as Tableau, to learn how to visualize data. Students have access to workshops where they learn the basics of using analytic programs that impact business practices. 

The impact of an MBA on career advancement

All of these fundamental business skills combine to form a skill set that can help leaders go out into the world with confidence. Olin instills critical business skills for success and supports students by offering:

The opportunity to stand out

The range of specializations and electives available as part of the Olin MBA allows students to tailor their learning to their interests and career goals. In this way, the programs help students develop expertise and differentiate themselves in the job market by choosing courses that pique their interest, challenge them and align with their career goals. They can carve out a unique path to success, select goals specific to them and craft a vision of their future.

A competitive advantage

An MBA from Olin provides students with a wide range of fundamental skills and more niche experiences, which gives an advantage over other candidates in the job market. Students can increase their skills by engaging in ongoing paid internships with leading industries, career development with career coaches and real-world consulting with startups and other corporate partners.

Readiness for a global world

Opportunities to engage globally and learn from international businesses and startups give students the chance to build a global mindset, which in turn helps them to form careers that can adapt to globalizing industries. MBA programs guide highly qualified candidates into top-level industry positions as creative and critical problem solvers. Others will graduate and begin their own international ventures, utilizing global networks to craft their own career paths.

Confidence with advanced technologies

The job market is a dynamic organism, constantly evolving with digital technologies in response to global, societal and economic shifts. The world of business needs more creative thinkers who can work effectively with AI and other technological advances over the next decade and beyond. An Olin MBA helps leaders to understand and integrate data and technology into their business strategies.

Competitive leaders must be able to respond quickly to change and be comfortable working in various settings with diverse groups of clients and colleagues. They must be able to adapt to a global world, ready to shift their thinking in order to cope with the challenges that arise. While the job market may be disrupted, MBA graduates can find their own way through the chaos with a deep foundation of hands-on experience and knowledge.

Hexagonal blocks stacked next to and top each other representing different components of an online MBA program.

When studying for an MBA, students know they’re signing up to work hard. They probably expect their MBA course load to demand a lot of their time and take a lot of dedication and motivation.

While these statements are largely true, MBA program leaders are becoming increasingly aware of their students’ needs outside the classroom. We recognize that in times of change, the way people need to engage with their education is a little different. Students need help to achieve a balance between their full-time employment and responsibilities, their family life and their time dedicated to the MBA program, not to mention their health and well-being.

How can an MBA student achieve a work-life balance?

Students and their mentors can prepare the ground for their MBA work-life balance in several ways. Here are some key questions students can ask to make sure they’re choosing options that make sense for them:

1. Which program would work best for your priorities and goals?

Different programs offer different schedules and varying levels of flexibility. Consider what you need from your course load and weekly routine. Is your life likely to change drastically in the next year or so? A part-time MBA could be the right choice. In Olin’s PMBA, for example, students can easily decrease their course load by speaking with academic advisors.

2. What kind of interaction are you looking for?

Different programs will offer different forms of community and classroom interaction. If you’re someone who needs a high number of contact hours and an in-person cohort, the Executive MBA might be the right choice. If you already have an active community outside of education and want to focus on your education in a slightly more solitary environment, the online program might be a perfect fit.

3. Are location and travel a priority for you?

Students should consider where they need to be located for the duration of their MBA experience. In a part-time MBA program, they may be able to apply for remote status if they need to travel for life or work reasons. In an online MBA, the course interface can travel with you.

4. Do you have a schedule to check in with your work-life balance?

There are tactics that MBA students can use once they’re enrolled in a program to ensure that they’re staying in touch with their work-life balance. They could do that by actively working on their time management — invest in some upfront planning and identify hours needed for projects, papers, and studying. They could meet with advisors and peers during lunch hours so that they’re developing relationships and networking, while saving time for off-the-clock socializing later. The MBA program itself can also help nurture students’ lives outside of learning.

How does the Olin MBA look after students’ life balance?

At Olin, we know how important it is for students to find a balance between the different parts of their lives.

The first thing we do to protect students’ work-life balance is to make our programs highly flexible. Students pursuing their MBA can choose between three options — the Online MBA, the Professional or Part-Time MBA, and the Executive MBA. Each program provides a flexible option for professional students based on their availability and other responsibilities.

In the Online MBA, students have the flexibility of an entirely online format. They work with an assigned cohort, taking a set of required courses and credits over the course of eight semesters. Six of those semesters require seven credit hours, and two of those semesters require six credit hours. So there is additional flexibility baked into the program’s structure.

For the Professional or Part-Time MBA, students have the option to choose remote status during periods of time when work or family life needs more of their attention. They can also follow a timeline that makes sense to them. While they’re required to complete 54 credit hours in total, the pace of those credit hours is up to the student.

The Executive MBA is a 24-month program, kicking off with a week-long orientation where students can meet their peers and try their first few classes together. They then progress through the MBA course load by incorporating three days a month of classroom time into their schedule, leaving plenty of room for other commitments and changes.

All of Olin’s MBA programs are designed with flexibility in mind. Finding an MBA work-life balance is vital—without it, students simply cannot access the benefits of their learning. Flexible online MBA programs allow people to study, live, connect with others, fulfill their responsibilities, and take part in their communities. This all makes for better future business leaders.

Whether it’s teaching time management for MBA students or developing more options for how to arrange your MBA course load, Olin has your back—not just at school but at home and everywhere in between. Business leaders aren’t just made in the classroom.


The partnership between Washington University and the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC, goes back a long way. Back in 1916, a St. Louis business leader named Robert S. Brookings founded the first private organization to study public service and nurture future public leaders. From that point on, the Brookings Institution became a community home for anyone looking to learn about government and a service-driven career.

Robert Brookings was also head of Washington University’s governing board for more than three decades (1895-1928). Seventy seven years after his passing, the Brookings Institution and Olin Business School joined in partnership to offer a new program in 2009, now known as WashU at Brookings.

In this program, leadership education brings the worlds of government and business together. The program focuses on the principle that the development of leaders is always about service and purpose. Leaders who are purpose-driven will contribute to their communities, help colleagues to advance in their careers, and educate and inspire others to think globally.

What can students expect from the ‘WashU at Brookings’ program?

The WashU at Brookings program combines the environments of business and government and acknowledges the intersection of these two fundamental bodies of knowledge. Through this self-aware approach, the program empowers students to develop skill sets for both worlds.

Students will experience this intersection for themselves to gain a level of insight into the business and government relationship beyond just news coverage. Students study firsthand the impact of government policies on business, the way think tanks work, and how policymakers are solving problems from different viewpoints.

How does this work in practice?

Learn from leaders about national or international topics

The program offers unique access to leaders. Washington, D.C., is the physical meeting point of business and government, and it can connect a student to the exceptional thinkers they need to learn from.

Need to talk to somebody who’s an expert on Thailand’s economy? You can find them here. Need a source from the IMF or the World Bank? They’re here. Students get to connect with people who actually have a working role in building policy for emerging economies. Learning from lived experience is highly valuable for students and sets them up to move from MBA to careers in government.

Be part of interactive discussions

Students have the opportunity to participate in interactive discussions with the people that they would normally see on CNN or FOX. The learning they can have in the WashU at Brookings program is not just a lecture series; students ask questions specific to their own research and business interests. Students can follow up and seek deeper understanding during discussions, and they can get frank answers they wouldn’t hear anywhere else.

Benefit from a wider perspective

On top of these relationships with influential people and organizations, WashU at Brookings gives students the perspective to see the forest for the trees, to understand how everything fits together.

An MBA from a program focused on global business can show a future leader what working in a real global business environment will be like, complete with obstacles and issues. Learning about the impact of government policies on business takes them one step further. If you talk to the people leading large companies, the most important issues that are facing them will often involve government. From an airplane manufacturer to a pharmaceutical company, governing rules and regulations are one of the most impactful elements in their success.

Shape a varied career

The WashU at Brookings program inevitably helps to shape a student’s career trajectory. The first thing to note is that the program can help set up and support government jobs for MBA graduates, something many students will be thinking about before they even enter the MBA program. By having real experiences, students will get a leg up when submitting their job applications.

The business and government relationship will also inform how students plan and carry out their career choices. From the relationships they form with policymakers, government workers, business leaders, and other networks in D.C. to the real-life topics they uncover during discussions, students can see the paths others have taken before them to get to their dream jobs.

How will the Brookings perspective impact the rest of the MBA experience?

The skills and perspectives gained during the program ultimately impact the rest of the MBA experience for students, and this is one of its biggest advantages.

The practical education they receive helps students right away. Take regulatory issues, for example. When we were creating the program, we thought hard about how students would be able to gain practical skills to help them understand and navigate regulatory issues in their future business plans.

In many cases, leaders can actually go in and talk with regulators. Regulators want to get their jobs right and don’t want to implement policies that hurt society. In this way, educated MBA students can actively influence regulation in their spaces and learn how regulators make their decisions.

But perhaps the most important and lasting impact of the Brookings experience is the perspective that students take into the rest of their MBA and beyond — the perspective that learning about business and government can fundamentally change the country and the world. Students gain a better sense of how they can get involved in serving our society and will be equipped with the skills and tools to do so.

Pictured above: Olin’s Lamar Pierce, Beverly and James Hance Professor of Strategy, teaching at the Brookings Institution.