Tag: Center for Experiential Learning



Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Last week, the Bauer Leadership fellows discussed the challenges and responsibilities of a leader. All fellows are MBA students serving as Center for Experiential Learning team leads for a project within their practicum program. In this role, they need to manage relationships with their teammates, mentors, and clients.

To navigate these winding roads successfully, they collaborated and role played tough situations to understand how to solve problems and create impact as a leader. To extend this conversation beyond the meeting walls, I wanted to share their words of wisdom here to continue building values-based leaders here at WashU.

Communicate Early; Set Goals; Manage Expectations

Many fellows discussed coming into a team with prior friendships with other members. Established relationships can be difficult to break, especially if you are coming into a role as a superior with a team of fellow students. It is important to set the goals up front for you as a leader and other team members in various roles to give them freedom and leadership.

This allows everyone to have responsibilities where they can shine. It also grounds you with a sense of authority and respect.

And these conversations go beyond the team, too. Each group has a mentor to guide them through the practicum. They are there for guidance and to provide a more experienced perspective, but making sure they are doing this properly can be difficult.

Taylor Ohman, previous CEL team lead and BLC Fellow, said it well: “This is the Center for Experiential Learning—the point is to work through the struggles and learn how to do better.”

With this in mind, its important for this mentor to let students solve problems to learn and grow in this safe space.

Take on the Responsibility of the Team

As one of the fellows said it, be a “leader servant.” Leaders will get much of the praise when things go well—and all of the brunt if they don’t. If another teammate is having an off week, it is on the leader to pick up the slack.

And if nitty-gritty administrative work needs to be done, it is important for the leader to pick up on it to allow the rest of the team to focus on the parts that matter most to them. As a leader, it is your job to bring the best out of your team.

Sometimes, that means doing the not-so-glamorous work and taking the fall when things go wrong. But it’s also important to know how to bounce back.

Adapt, Improvise, and Shift Plans, If Needed

Of course, you can set goals and take on hard responsibilities, but some things just might not go as you thought—and that’s OK. As a leader, it is critical to learn how to act on your feet and continually manage performance.

If someone is not performing up to par, discuss it with this person in a direct, mature, and decisive manner. Improvise on what their responsibilities are to provide tasks that can be benchmarks for success. Every team member will work differently, so work to understand these differences to create a cohesive team dynamic.




Sarah Kaplan, BFA 2018, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.

Through a panel discussion cohosted by the Bauer Leadership Center and the Century Club Business Series, the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees shared how value systems have shaped their career paths.

  • Zack Boyers, MBA 01’, chairman and CEO, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., St. Louis.
  • Shirley Cunningham, MBA ’08, executive vice president, AG Business and Enterprise Strategy, CHS Inc., Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
  • Munir Mashooqullah, MBA ’98, founder and custodian, Synergies Worldwide, Thailand.
  • Richard Ritholz, BSBA ’84, partner, senior portfolio manager and head of global commodities trading, Elliott Management Corporation, New York City.

A defining theme throughout the discussion was the significance of having a global perspective while relying on a focused value system.

Global Thinking

Richard Ritholz described not understanding globalization as going into a fight with one arm tied behind your back. In an increasingly “fast-changing and globalized world,” an appreciation for how other people think is incredibly important.

Having spent time abroad in England, Italy, Norway, and Holland working for Mobil Oil, Ritholz had to assimilate across many cultures.

“It really opened up my mind,” he said. “Without the experience of internationalization, I just don’t think I would have thought about things with as open a mind as I was able to, and I am not so sure I would have been as successful.”

Shirley Cunningham likewise shared how in her experience working around the world, a global perspective makes you think more broadly. “It makes you think in a more rounded way if you think about the globe as the opportunity versus just a narrow strip.”

With global opportunity also comes global responsibility. Munir Mashooqullah pointedly stated that all of us now have a global footprint.

“You cannot be a leader or a manager or have skills without understanding how things work around the world,” he said. Mashooqulla shared a tip he picked up from the president/CEO of Bain: CEOs have to be the leader of an ecosystem, not just a singular asset. This applies to not only global corporations, but also national organizations.

As Zach Boyers shared that working in a primarily US-based company, technology and global change still affect national organizations. In handling these global shifts and changes, it is important to have a dedicated core set of values to act upon.

Focused Values

In addressing a global business world, all four alums agreed on the importance of not just having core values, but focusing on implementing them within one’s own organization. Boyers got to the heart of the matter: “The question really becomes, what do values mean in practice and in an operating model in your business?”

To implement a core value of teamwork into his own operating model, Ritholz starts by understanding the impact of teamwork, then “I work backward and try to figure out what we need in order to engender that type of teamwork, spirit, and camaraderie.”

Mashooqullah shared another strategy implementing a values-based culture: Values must start at the top.

“We put on our website that reputation is what other people think of you, and that character is what you are,” he said. “Culture is important because without that, you cannot pre-populate an organization with what you think.”

Without a cultivated culture, it is difficult to act on specified values. Cunningham also emphasized a values-based culture. She shared an experience working in a blame-oriented culture.

From relying on her core values of integrity and problem solving, she was able to re-align with a business environment, which also supported that belief system. When it comes to values in a global world, a resounding reminder from these alums is that you cannot just talk to the talk, but you must walk the walk.

Be sure to click this link to see the Distinguished Alumni Symposium on April 12, 2018, or view the video below.




Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004,

Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004

C. Donald Dorsey, a member of Olin’s National Council, a longtime scholarship supporter, and distinguished alumnus, died on Thursday (May 3, 2018). He was 76.

Mr. Dorsey served as a senior executive for PetSmart during its rapid expansion from seven stores to more than 500. He even served a stint as interim CEO for the company’s operations in the UK, where he was credited with stabilizing its operations in the late 1990s and positioning the overseas unit for continuous improvement at that time.

Longtime members of the Olin community recalled Mr. Dorsey as a tireless booster for Olin and Washington University, where he received his BSBA degree in 1964.

“He was pretty close to me,” said Robert Virgil, dean emeritus at Olin. “He was one of my very first students when I started teaching. I go back a long way with him. I remember him well as a good student, a leader of his class and after graduating, a dedicated alum of Washington University—very generous.”

Virgil recalled Mr. Dorsey being very active in Washington University’s Scholarship Initiative Campaign. Indeed, he and his wife have been benefactors of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship since 2006. Two years earlier, Mr. Dorsey had received Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his career accomplishments.

“Don was a very special friend for Olin Business School and Washington University,” said Mahendra Gupta, former Olin dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management. “He loved his school and his university and was always there to support them and to be a great ambassador.”

Gupta recalled recruiting a reluctant Mr. Dorsey to the National Council by inviting him to a meeting, where he was impressed by the membership of the group and the intense dedication each member shared for the future of the school. He joined the council in 2009.

“Don was an engaged member of the Olin community through his service on our National Council,” Dean Mark Taylor said. “His commitment to supporting students is inspiring and I am grateful for how welcoming he was during my first year as dean.”

Career Highlights

Mr. Dorsey was a St. Louis native through-and-through, graduating from Normandy High School, attending Washington University, and signing on for his first job with Price Waterhouse locally. He worked there 12 years before moving into general management with retailers in the grocery, automotive, and eye-ware industries.

In 1989, Mr. Dorsey joined PetSmart—three years after it launched—as senior vice president and chief financial officer, helping the company through enormous growth. The chain had blossomed to more than 500 stores and Mr. Dorsey helped guide the company through its 1993 IPO before he retired in 1999.

“Being a CPA was a strong background for moving into general management,” Mr. Dorsey said upon receiving recognition as a distinguished alumnus. “In building PetSmart, we began by working with consumer focus groups to discover what our customers really needed. From that basis, we built on the concept of one-stop service for their pets.”

At about that time, after his leadership, the company’s UK unit was acquired by UK-based Pets at Home in December 1999. PetSmart later went private after its 2015 takeover by BC Partners for $8.7 billion.

Following his retirement, Mr. Dorsey worked as an adviser and investor for several development-stage consumer-related companies such as Ulta Beauty and Five Below.

His wife Lydia and his children were with him at the time of his death. Mr. Dorsey is survived by his wife, Lydia; daughter, Lisa. and son-in-law, Ken Stewart; daughter, Christine Dorsey; stepsons, Eric Bazarnic and Cliff Bazarnic; daughters-in-law, Lynn Ducey and Zoja Bazarnic.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Pictured above: National Council member and BSBA ’64 Don Dorsey with Frank Duan, BSBA ’16, recipient of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship.




This past spring break, members of the Missouri Botanical Garden Practicum team packed their bags and traveled 30 hours to Antananarivo, Madagascar—the capital city, known as “Tana.”

So, what is going on in Madagascar with two Center for Experiential Learning programs there (yes, there is Madagascar Sustainability Initiative, too)? The world’s fourth-largest island has a fascinating history, geography, and climate. Consequently, the country features tremendous biodiversity; in fact, more than 90 percent of all the plant species in Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world.

Therefore, Madagascar is of particular significance to conservationists and botanists. The Missouri Botanical Garden has been present in Madagascar for more than 30 years. They currently manage 13 ecologically unique sites around the country, collecting data and discovering new plant species each year. In short, the botanical garden has partnered with a CEL team of students to consult on improvements to their work in Madagascar while focusing on the future sustainability of the ongoing effort.

Prior to the trip, the team met with several staff members of the Missouri Botanical Garden, learning about the Garden’s history, goals, and efforts. Afterward, the staff gave them a tour of the research facility, with more than 7 million unique plants catalogued and stored in a botanist’s heaven. With this foundation in place, they were ready to venture to Madagascar to learn more.

The team set out on this trip with a mission in mind: To meet with the Missouri Botanical Garden’s staff in Madagascar and to learn about the operations and the conservation work of the organization at the national and local levels. Here is Laini Cassis’, MBA, ‘19, account of the trip on how they reached their goals during each day:

Diving into the First Day

On our first day in Tana, we met with the botanical garden’s staff members at their headquarters. The following day, we embarked on a full day of driving and sightseeing to one of the garden’s 13 conservation sites: Analalava, which is home to 12 plant species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. This protected forest on the east coast of Madagascar is home to lemurs, tree frogs, and bats—all of which we saw on a guided hike.

While at Analalava, we visited the site’s fishponds and tree nursery, and a local rural community called Fokontany Bongabe. While there, farmers brought us to their community garden, which generates additional income for their families. We learned about important crops such as vanilla and cloves.

The employees at Analalava work closely with surrounding communities like this one to create livelihood alternatives to protect the forest. It was incredible to see such community engagement for environmental action

Our stay at Analalava was rustic, but we had a fantastic time. We were lucky to not face a thunderstorm, or worse: a cyclone! Every meal included tropical fruits such as longans, pineapples, lychees, avocados, and coconuts (without straws). In such a rural place, the night sky revealed the dazzling Milky Way. We also went to the Indian Ocean and took a stroll along the beautiful beach in the nearby town of Foulpointe.

After another day of driving, we returned to Tana. The CEL team delved into our observations and reflections, and then presented to the MBG staff in Tana about our work objectives and project expectations.

On our final day in Madagascar, we did some sightseeing around the capital. We walked downtown, took some thrilling taxi rides, visited the highest point of the city, and toured the botanical garden and zoo. It was an eventful and eye-opening week, but it was time to leave Madagascar with another series of long flights.

Our team’s success and safety in Madagascar was largely thanks to the local Missouri Botanical Garden staff, who provided expert advice and guidance every step of the way—from ordering food to bargaining souvenirs, to handling logistical details.

We are thankful for the assistance that enabled us to focus on our assignment without disruption. Now recovered from jet lag, the team looks forward to crafting our final product and delivering impact to the Missouri Botanical Garden.




Ben Rosenkranz, MSBA ’18, BSBA ’17, wrote this post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning.

Sports often connect people across regions and nations. Soccer is known as the world’s game and one CEL team got to experience this firsthand by traveling to Quito, Ecuador, to work with Independiente del Valle, an Ecuadorian soccer team competing in the country’s first division.

The CEL practicum student consulting team is helping Independiente capitalize on the momentum it gained following a Cinderella run to the final of the Copa Libertadores tournament in 2016 by building a new stadium, expanding its fan base, and increasing overall revenue. Learning about and getting immersed in the culture of fútbol and food helped them progress on their project.

We found it difficult to fully understand a client and a country simply through Google searches and a few Skype calls. Spending five days in Quito with our client gave us a much better perspective on how our client operates within the greater landscape of Quito.

Given that our project involves real estate—helping evaluate where in the region the team should build a stadium to optimize attendance growth and generate revenue—spending some quality time on the ground in Ecuador and seeing the stadium’s current location was imperative. We did our best to maximize the time we spent in the country. This led to many long days (and not as much sleep as we would have liked) as we jumped from presentations, to work sessions, to games and dinners with the client.

We started our trip with an extended presentation to the marketing team, but drastically refined it until our final meeting discussing our recommendations in front of the ownership group on our final day in Quito. In between, we experienced what it means to be a professional soccer club in Ecuador.

We spent time at the club’s impressive academy—it is said to be the second best in all of South America—we met academy and first-team players, coaches, and executives, and we spoke to anyone we came across about the current state of Ecuador soccer, politics, and culture.

Our faculty advisor, Juan Pablo Espinosa, seemingly knew everyone in the city. His introductions to his friends, family and colleagues, whether directly connected to Independiente or not, all provided us with further context on the opportunities and challenges of economic development in Ecuador.

We also immersed ourselves in Quito’s culture through our meals in local restaurants, long drives through beautiful valleys to the suburb where the team played, and visits to two vastly different soccer stadiums in the area. Through our travels, we developed a fondness for nata, a creamy Ecuadorian condiment, and an obsession with taxo, a fruit that looks like a cross between a banana and pomegranate.

We all improved our Spanish, testing it out when we appeared as guests on the club’s local radio show. We hopped in on a soccer scrimmage at the academy between the coaches and the trainers, and some of us showed them that Americans have a few fútbol skills as well.

In the end, we provided Independiente’s management team with four case studies of MLS teams that faced similar location and financing situations in the United States, providing a roadmap of references and best practices to follow when the final location is determined. The team was impressed with our progress at the halfway point, based on our presentation.

Going forward, we are looking to pivot a bit from the original scope to provide more directed recommendations based on the experience and knowledge we gained in Quito.

We were humbled to have the opportunity to represent the CEL and Olin in Ecuador and cannot wait to get started working on the second leg of our project, building on our current progress as seen by our client lead.

“We have had the opportunity to work in two projects with the CEL,” said Santiago Morales, CEO of Independiete Del Valle. “In both projects, we have received great ideas and valuable recommendations to increase fan engagement.”


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