Tag: Critical Thinking



Last month, the Impact Investing Symposium returned to Olin. In it’s second year, the Symposium brought together professionals in finance, foundations, social justice, and government to discuss the potential for impact investing in St. Louis. What a turnout: 180 attendees across industries and experience of impact investing.

The afternoon began with a keynote interview with Nicole Hudson, exploring the work of the Ferguson Commission and what types of projects are ripe for investment in St. Louis. The Ferguson Commission was crucial in advancing a community understanding, response, action plan and forward steps after the shooting of Michael Brown in North St. Louis. Like all community action, the initiative needed tangible measures for impact as well as buy-in from an entire community, across backgrounds and city/county lines.

The necessity for common language and common ground is paramount for impact investing: we need voices of the under-served, perspectives of the financiers, and mediators who can find the common goals. That’s what makes the Impact Investing Symposium unique. It’s a rarity to get folks of these industries in the same room, having a conversation, exchanging dialogue, looking forward.

This year’s panel expanded on a discussion of last year: why impact investing is imminent. Mike Eggleston shared community survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis while David Desai-Ramirez articulated ways for individuals and institutions to take direct action in impact investing: speak with a conduit social enterprise like IFF or Justine PETERSEN. Symposium veteran Tim Coffin shared the traditional finance mechanisms in place for investing with impact and Heather Cameron contributed macro level understandings of community impact. Jake Barnett, mediator, delivered a final parting challenge: “integrity is the proximity of one’s values to their actions.”

The conversation on changing mindsets and redefining “return” will continue – but the Symposium is ready for it’s next iteration: what are actionable steps? How can Olin be at the forefront of impact investing? Where should St. Louis focus it’s resources, intellect, and innovation?

We left the Symposium with the following directive: what projects can we support as individuals, investors, and community members? Have ideas? Be in touch – we’re ready to move forward: impactinvest@wustl.edu.

The Impact Investing Symposium was founded, organized and implemented by socially-minded Olin MBA students. We intend to keep this mission alive at Olin: bridging finance and social impact. To support this initiative or make further inquiry regarding potential future sponsorship, please contact impactinvest@wustl.edu. This event was sponsored by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation and hosted by Net Impact, the Weston Career Center, and Olin Business School.




A team of operations and supply chain management graduate students from Washington University’s Olin Business School came in second place at the regional finals of the Supply Chain Finance Community’s Global Student Challenge on Thursday, March 9. The competition, held at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, was designed to promote awareness on the topic of supply chain finance and risk management.

“The Challenge engages participants to consider corporate strategy and business objectives and to manage cross-functional trade-offs in the value chain. Cross-functional understanding and collaboration are key components, as teams work together to turn their company around.” ~ globalstudentchallenge.org

The competition was based on a business simulation called The Cool Connection. According to the competition’s website, this simulation “provides insight in the complexities and inter-dependencies in supply chains operating under uncertain and volatile market conditions.”

The Olin team, composed of Xingxing Chen, Fasheng Xu, Yu Li, and Yunzhe Qiu, performed consistently well over multiple rounds, and stayed within reach of winning throughout the competition. Unfortunately, they were ultimately edged out in the final round of play. However, they placed ahead of strong competitors from Duke, USC, Maryland, and other top universities. They will find out in the coming weeks if they will advance to the global final to be held in the Netherlands in April.

On behalf of the Olin community, The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation would like to congratulate the team on its excellent performance! All of them have sharpened their supply chain management skills through their participation in mini-consulting projects that BCSCI conducts with its member companies. Our students’ success at the Global Student Challenge serves as another validation of their capabilities.

By Evan Dalton

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence // Risk Management

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Our last day with The Women’s Bakery started off a little bit differently than the rest of our week in Rwanda. Instead of waking up and looking out over Kigali, we woke up to the sun rising over the hazy Congo, just barely visible across the beautiful Lake Kivu.

RELATED: Building bakeries and a new business model in Rwanda

Lake kivu

We made our way out to the Western Province the day before, climbing over a mile in altitude and watching the fauna become increasingly mountainous and green. This area of the country sees much more rain, which we learned first-hand in the village of Bumba while visiting one of three TWB bakeries in Rwanda. We experienced a massive downpour that came in quickly as we met with Ernest, a member of the cooperative that owns this particular bakery.

IMG_0555Ernest was one of the many people that we met throughout the week who is involved with The Women’s Bakery at all levels of the value chain. In addition to Ernest, we met with three other field partners, both men and women, who are helping to run their bakeries with their co-ops. We also had the chance to meet with and watch the women themselves in action.

In addition to visiting the bakeries, we were able to meet with partners of TWB. Atikus is a microfinancier who is working to make loans available to the women who go through the training program. And SMGF is a firm that is taking steps to become a hiring partner that will invest in building a bakery in the future. And finally, we spent a lot of time with the TWB team themselves, trying to figure out how to best help them.

IMG_0571As we met with all of these people throughout the week, we regrouped whenever and wherever we could as a team to unpack everything we had been hearing. These ad hoc meetings happened at restaurants, in our hotel, and in the car as we moved around the country. And now our task, as we sat in the lodge overlooking the water, was to bring all of the information together and figure out how to move forward.

We sketched out possible solutions to multiple challenges and debated the merits of each. We did a brainstorming exercise that was used in creating Apple products and addressing the financial crisis to bring out issues we may have missed. And when all was said and done, we were ready to present our preliminary thoughts and plans for the rest of the semester to the TWB team. It had been a long and tiring week, much of it spent in very close quarters, but it was all worth it to see the enthusiasm on the TWB team’s faces as we presented and celebrated over one final dinner.

Guest blogger: Erin Ilic, MBA ’17 

Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) is committed to creating innovative learning opportunities that result in meaningful impact in the business and nonprofit communities.




Since 2012, the Olin Business Council has annually hosted the Target Case Competition. This year, on February 10, 2017, five teams advanced to the final round. Nine teams participated. Three Target representatives judged the competition and presented prizes of $1000 for first place, $700 for second place, and $300 for third place.

“It was a good competition. We had some great teams this year; the ideas and PowerPoints were among the highest quality,” said Olin Business Council President, Lillie Ross, BSBA’17. The case competition’s prompt was: “Developing the Modern Shopping Experience.”

Target case comp

As technology infiltrates brick-and-mortar stores, younger customers, like Olin students, provide invaluable insight for Target.

The second place team recommended transforming guest interaction with the store. “We wanted ideas that were based around the consumers interacting with Target in the comfort of their homes,” said group member Chloe Naguib, BSBA’18. The team recommended sending fabric swatches to consumers to test them in their house instead of using pictures to figure out which drapes go best in the guest bedroom. The team also proposed donating 2% of the profits to local homeless shelters (chosen by customers) to incentivize consumers to purchase more goods and emphasize Target’s community initiatives.

A team consisting of brothers from Phi Gamma Nu came up with the idea of Home ID: home identity and home interior design. The team encouraged Target to use its online and physical presence to further its home innovation program. They advocated Target incorporate a Bullseye Board to their website; this bulletin board would serve as a Target version of Pinterest, allowing consumers to pin pictures of layout designs of rooms or furniture featuring products available at Target. They also suggested Target Quizzes, where shoppers could take Buzzfeed-like quizzes that harness consumer preferences and recommends a corresponding color. “These quizzes are really addicting and a fun way for customers to choose their living room color,” said teammate Brady Delgadillo, A&S’20.

Every idea was innovative and unique; however, the first place prize could only be rewarded to one team. The winning team took a slightly different approach: they suggested Target personalize each store’s inventory according to location to appeal more to customers. The winners also leveraged personal anecdotes for their recommendations. For instance, teammate Lucy Meng, BSBA’18,  an international student, does not have access to a car, hindering her from visiting the store. Therefore, the group suggested Target offer a delivery service so international students could still access Target’s fresh produce and merchandise.

Overall, the competition was a success with the winning team pocketing $250 per member. As always, we appreciate Target’s sponsorship and relationship with Olin and look forward to next year’s competition!

Guest Blogger: Daun Lee, BSBA’20


Washington University’s Olin Business School was proud to host the second annual Monsanto Olin Supply Chain Case Competition on Friday, February 3. Teams from top business schools across the country competed for bragging rights and the $10,000 grand prize. Participating universities included Michigan State University, the University of Washington, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, the University of Minnesota, the University of Missouri, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Washington University in St. Louis, and last year’s champs, Texas Christian University. After much deliberation, the judges decided that UNC had delivered the top overall presentation, with second place going to WashU, and third place to Mizzou.

The competition was designed to give graduate students an opportunity to provide innovative business solutions to a case study written about Monsanto’s seed corn supply chain. Monsanto’s motivation for holding the competition was to foster and attract more supply chain management talent to work on food supply chain solutions for an ever-growing world. Monsanto’s Global Customer Care team, led by Mario Morhy and Marcelle Pires, was very pleased with all presentations and impressed by the level of talent and insight displayed by the teams.

1st Place $10,000:  University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill
2nd Place $5000:  Washington University, Team Olin :Tom Siepman, Serena Chen, Ravi Balu and Samantha Feng
3rd Place $2500:  University of Missouri- Columbia

The case study used for the competition, titled “Monsanto Company: Production & Inventory Planning Challenges in Seed Corn Supply Chains,” was written by WashU’s Panos Kouvelis, Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management and director of The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation. The competition was administered by Olin Business School’s graduate programs office, with Associate Dean Joe Fox acting as the master of ceremonies and his team, including Sarah Miller and Laura Fogarty, providing strong logistical support.

On behalf of the Olin community, The Boeing Center congratulates the UNC team on their victory and thanks all those who helped make this year’s case competition a great success!

For more supply chain digital content and cutting-edge research, check us out on the socials [@theboeingcenter] and our website [olin.wustl.edu/bcsci]

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A Boeing Center digital production

The Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation

Supply Chain // Operational Excellence  //  Risk Management

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