Tag: Center for Experiential Learning

Joe Piganelli, MBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center. Olin Blog is running it today, the day of the Cardinal’s home opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

While the common fan may not view baseball this way, running a baseball team is just like running a business. Both require focus, discipline, and leadership skills. There are revenues, expenses, profits, and losses that must be managed for the team owners.

John Mozeliak, president of baseball operations for the St. Louis Cardinals, holds these responsibilities. He has implemented a unique system of coaching and feedback spanning the entire Cardinals organization.

Recently, the “Defining Moments” class at Olin had the opportunity to hear Mozeliak. He told us what leadership means to him, sharing the correlation between leadership and success within the Cardinals organization. What stuck out to me most about Mozeliak’s leadership tactics were his discipline and adherence to systems and his ability to focus on areas where he can have the most impact.

In the Cards’ organization, individuals receive bimonthly feedback on whether they are at a constant level of performance, improving performance, or declining performance. Those with constant or declining performance levels learn how they can achieve improving performance. This system sounds simple and intuitive, but is difficult. It requires amazing discipline, prioritization, and consistent management to stick to and maintain it.

Mozeliak’s strict adherence to systems, routines, and concepts of organizational management have provided him the means to sustain and enhance the mystical “Cardinal Way.” The key element to managing these systems is his ability to not micro-manage.  The “Cardinal Way”—the organizational philosophy of the team—depends not only on discipline, but also trust.

Mozeliak trusts his people and likewise his people trust him. He provides his team the autonomy and space to run these systems, creating a stronger team on and off the baseball field.

The privilege of listening to our (favorite) baseball team’s president of baseball operations was unforgettable. Mozeliak gave us a window into the hard work and discipline that goes into leading any organization to success—especially a winning baseball team.

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44

Beverly Pagone, PMBA 44, contributed this post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning, which sponsors the Global Management Studies course.

I’ve just returned from an eight-day trip to Japan where I visited three major cities and had a whirlwind of educational and cultural experiences. And yes, you read that right, it all happened in just eight days.

This wasn’t a vacation. I went as part of the Global Management Studies course at Washington University’s Olin Business School. I visited several top Japanese organizations, including Bank of Japan, the Tokyo Station Hotel, L.E.K. Consulting, Japan Railway Central, Fast Retailing (Uniqlo), Toyota, Suntory, and Gekkeikan.

On top of that, the trip included countless precious cultural experiences: a traditional tea ceremony, dinner on a Yakata Bune boat, a ride on the bullet train, and zen meditation. In addition, we traipsed around the Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto wearing a traditional kimono, visited Fushimi Inari Taisha and Osaka Castle, and enjoyed plenty of karaoke.

Thanks to the spectacular team of Olin students who led the trip, I had the time of my life and learned more than I could have imagined.

Risa Tawase learning how to be a conductor on the Japanese bullet train.

Risa Tawase learning how to be
a conductor on the Japanese bullet train.

Not only do I have endless memories to take away from this trip, I have gained concrete insights I can immediately apply to my life and work. These learnings come from both the experiences and the people I met during my journey through Japan.


A Japanese term that signifies the unique, detail-oriented, customized hospitality practiced in Japan. Omotenashi became evident when I visited the Tokyo Station Hotel. When a guest arrives for their stay, the staff will take special care to learn about their likes and needs, and will cater service to each individual guest, providing special arrangements and gifts.

Furthermore, all guests complete a feedback form upon checkout where comments are put into real action to help improve the hotel and guest experience. They are really listening and acting on guest insights and requests.

In addition, the concept of omotenashi is about offering the best possible service without the expectation of a reward. Providing a high level of customized service is simply expected. In fact, tips are not customary in Japan.

Paulina Owens and Beverly Pagone at the Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel.

Paulina Owens and Beverly Pagone at the
Ryokan, a traditional Japanese hotel.

Seeing this principle in action reinforced the importance of listening to the needs of my client. It’s important to not only ask for feedback on my performance, but to act on feedback I receive. And that is exactly where I intend to focus more in my current role.


One thing our group focused on while in Japan was being strictly on time for all our appointments, which, of course, in Japan means being at least 15 minutes early. People’s time is something to be respected in Japanese culture. This concept was clear during our visit to Japan Railway Central, which operates with an average train delay of under a minute.

If a train is scheduled to arrive at 3:02 p.m., it will be there right on time, so you had better be on time, too. This almost certain punctuality helps everything run smoothly and problem free. It is one of the reasons we were able to pack so many amazing experiences in such a limited time. More focus on consistent punctuality is definitely something I would like to bring back with me and apply to my work life.


Japanese culture is detail-oriented to say the least. Every facet of life is well thought out. From my hotel room key, which turned on the lights in the room, to the seamless public transit system, which just works, and will take you anywhere you need to go at low cost.

This attention to detail is expressed in their business analysis, where errors and issues are tracked to the root cause, allowing targeted improvements to be executed. This concept came through during our visit to Toyota.

The production line has what is called an “andon cord” running along the entire length, which any worker can pull to alert others of an issue that needs immediate attention, preventing a chain reaction. I plan to take a page out of the Japanese book and bring a closer focus on the details, because small things can make a big difference.


Maintaining omotenashi, strict punctuality, and attention to detail makes for hard work and long hours. But Japanese culture balances all this hard work with some fun and relaxation as well.

I got a taste of this balance during our calming zen meditation experience and the fun-filled nights of karaoke. Not to mention the ultra relaxing onsen hot spring baths, where we had the pleasure of experiencing a stay at a traditional Japanese hotel, or Ryokan.

These traditions offer an oasis and balance to an otherwise work-filled, timetabled schedule. I intend to incorporate this balance into my daily life, because all work and no play makes for a dull life.

Ichi-go ichi-e

This literally translates to “one time, one meeting,” and became one of the favorite phrases learned on the trip. It is traditionally said at the close of a tea ceremony to signify the fact that this one tea ceremony will never happen again at the same time, or in the same way.

It is a way to honor the moment and remember that it is precious and unique. Every moment is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and should be respected, treasured, and cherished. This phrase will continue to serve for me as a constant reminder to live in the present moment and live my life to the fullest.

Applying to work as well, if you are present and performing at your best, you will be able to reach your full potential and do your best work. This is one of my favorite takeaways from the trip.

I started the Global Management Studies course with a limited knowledge of Japan and Japanese culture and left with a deeper understanding and insight, and some concrete takeaways that I can immediately apply to my work and life—including the concept of omotenashi, or wholehearted service, punctuality, attention to detail, balance, and living in the moment, encompassed by the phrase ichi-go ichi-e.

Pictured above: Front row: Wataru Toyohara, Kazuki Urushihara, Beverly Pagone, Camden Civello, Ariel Washington, Daniel Elfenbein. Back row: Julie Kellman, Nick Wolzniak, Jarrad Solomon, Risa Tawase, Takashi Otsuka, Sydney Miller, Elizabeth Hailand, Rachel Goldberg, Farrah Quershi, Jessica Jackson, Susie Fontana, Stephanie Fiet, Paulina Owens, Greg Brown, Robert Siedel.

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.

Written by Ross J. Brown, BSBA 2018, on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Treat others the way you want to be treated. Do right by the organization. Stick to your values. Don’t be afraid to speak up. Last Thursday, Michael Holmes imparted his lessons of leadership during his presentation at Olin’s Defining Moments course.

Holmes is chairman and founder of Rx Outreach. This nonprofit company focuses on providing medicine to individuals who cannot afford it. Since its inception in 2010, after originally being a part of Express Scripts, the company has been able to provide 670 medication strengths, by more than 70 employees, serving more than 210,000 patients. Rx Outreach patients have saved than $320 million.

Throughout his career, Holmes has worked at variety of companies and in executive positions with Edward Jones and Express Scripts.

With his charismatic personality, Holmes’ presentation captivated the audience with his story of success—and mistakes—that allowed students to understand his underlying points of respect, values, and reflection. With consistent excellence in his career path, he was also able to demonstrate consistent and equal respect to all his coworkers—from secretaries to superiors.

This equal respect came from his religious beliefs, which he also proudly speaks about. I find this impressive. Religion can be a controversial topic, but Holmes is confident enough in himself and who he is to share this part of his background with others.

Finally, Holmes mentioned that he believes we should “enjoy every step of the journey”—enjoy every victory, learn from mistakes, and ultimately, have fun. The time spent with Michael Holmes was inspiring and enjoyable as we learned how to become better employees, better leaders, and overall better people in and out of the work place.

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.

Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18 and CEL marketing student associate, writes on behalf of the Center for Experiential Learning.

Through the CEL Practicum, students have the unique opportunity to consult for companies on a global scale, from startups to Fortune 50 firms.

Professional MBA student Elise Hastings and a team of student consultants recently traveled to Mumbai to meet with their CEL Practicum client, ArtO2, an independent art organization aiming to increase the awareness of contemporary art practices. Elise reflects on the consulting process her team undertook in Mumbai, and why site visits are essential to project success:

What was the biggest takeaway from consulting in-person, rather than remotely?

Elise: It was extremely important that our team understood the context of our project by meeting with our clients in person. We met with all the stakeholders involved and were able to build a relationship. They treated us with immense kindness and respect. They helped show us the rich culture of the city and prioritized hospitality. We understood that relationship building and trust was important in the business culture there, and being with the clients in person greatly facilitated these interactions. We also met with some of the people our clients served, which made it easier for us to understand the challenges and opportunities of the organization and areas we could provide support.

What unique value did your team contribute to ArtO2?

Elise: Our team has a variety of skill sets and backgrounds–including law, accounting, strategic planning, nonprofit fundraising, and social enterprise consulting. We were excited to work with a relatively younger and smaller organization like Art Oxygen, because we could play a larger role in structuring the organization for growth. With our group’s skills, we can support a lot of the strategic planning and organizational structuring that can best position ArtO2 to grow their impact and reach sustainability.


What were the most rewarding—and most challenging—aspects of working with your client?

Elise: It was a great opportunity to work with a group of passionate individuals that are attempting to bring contemporary art to Mumbai and build an arts infrastructure in a rapidly urbanizing city. We enjoyed building connections and understanding the process of creating an international consulting relationship. Although this relationship-building experience was rewarding, it was challenging to achieve. Being in a new place and cultural landscape over just a short timeframe, it was difficult to build that base of trust and understanding. Throughout this process, we enjoyed witnessing the impact of their work and learning how we as a group could help the organization grow that impact.

A special thanks to our partners at IIT Bombay, our IIT Bombay-WashU Research and Educational Academy family, and most especially, Executive MBA alumni Ravi Vishnu and Saurabh Shrivastava for their support in making this project happen.

Learn more about the CEL Practicum experience on the CEL’s website.

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