Tag: Executive Education



Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down campus and eliminated the possibility of in-person celebrations, WashU Olin still plans to recognize all our graduating students this year.

Washington University’s Chancellor Andrew Martin announced his creation of an Alternate Commencement Committee on April 17. That committee will examine the best way to honor the class of 2020 throughout WashU when it becomes safe to do so. While no formal announcements have been made, the committee plans to have more information available soon.

In the meantime, WashU Olin will move forward with virtual graduation recognition ceremonies that supplement, but do not replace, the university-wide celebration. On May 8 and May 15, Olin will release virtual graduation videos for each planned ceremony at the time of the original event.

Olin professor Hilary Anger Elfenbein wore her regalia to record her speech from home.

Each video celebration will include remarks from Dean Mark P. Taylor and Chancellor Andrew Martin, student speakers, announcements of student award recipients and remarks from the Reid Teaching Award winners. Though the degree candidates will not be able to “walk” during the ceremonies, their names will scroll on the screen during the presentations.

Videos will be made available at the time of each ceremony on the Olin graduation web page. Each ceremony will stream on Olin’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Instagram.  

Schedule of Ceremonies

Friday, May 8

  • EMBA Class 53, 10:30 a.m.
  • Executive Education: EMBA & WashU at Brookings master of science in leadership, 10:30 a.m.

Friday, May 15

  • BSBA, 11:30 a.m.
  • Graduate programs, 3 p.m.

We welcome any photos or reflections from your participation in our graduation ceremonies. Please share any images or videos with us @wustlbusiness and use #WashU20. Though this isn’t the ceremony any of us expected, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020.




Students in EBMA Class 53 took the “values-based, data-driven” concept to heart—literally—during their November residency in Shanghai, with an afternoon spent with nonprofit Heart to Heart and a decision that would change the life of a young girl in China.

In November 2019, students in the Executive MBA class 53 took part in a week-long residency in China. They started out in Beijing, exploring the city’s renowned landmarks and studying strategy at plants before heading to Shanghai for a series of experiential courses on trade, healthcare, strategy and more. Residencies like these combine rigorous coursework with international experiences to give executives a high-quality educational experience.

But just taking on a traditional residency experience wasn’t enough for this class. EMBA staff added an afternoon of service to the itinerary, giving students the chance to interact directly with young children and give back to the Shanghai community.

Working with Shanghai Heart to Heart, a nonprofit organization that orchestrates heart surgeries for impoverished families, students helped with the group’s monthly shoe distribution, sewed distribution bags and sorted in-kind donations.

Ben Hjelle (EMBA Class 53) sorts shoes for donations.

Ben Hjelle, member of EMBA Class 53, called the experience “profoundly humbling,” saying that it “underlined the bonds that all humans share regardless of geography or language.” The volunteer staff, many of whom were expatriates like the organization’s founders, took few resources and turned them into something exceptional—leading Hjelle to call them “civil servant entrepreneurs.”

Before going on the trip, the class was made aware of the possibility of providing donations to Heart to Heart that would help fund the group’s mission to provide heart surgeries at no cost to families who need them. Many members of the class chose to give in advance of the service afternoon, and still more felt compelled to give after the experience was over.

Reflecting on the choice the class made to fund a heart surgery, Hjelle said the class “would have contributed to countless organizations if we could.” But he and others were particularly inspired by Heart to Heart.

“I was missing our two-year-old son something fierce by that point in the trip,” Hjelle explained. “I don’t speak Mandarin, but watching those kids come into the playroom, seeing their faces shed the weariness of their journey and pick up a new toy, I immediately felt like I was at home with my son.”

Two months after the students returned to normal life in St. Louis and throughout the US, they heard from Heart to Heart’s executive director, Karen Carrington. Carrington shared the story of Dai Yuxi, an eighteen-month-old girl from the Anhui province who’s being raised by her single father.

Dai Yuxi (pictured below) was diagnosed with VSD and recommended as a candidate for heart surgery, but her father – who also cares for Dai’s twelve-year-old brother and their grandfather – couldn’t afford the surgery.

Then came the EMBA Class 53 donation. Carrington shared, “Because of [EMBA Class 53’s] generosity, Dai Yuxi was able to have her open heart surgery on January 6.  She spent 5 days on the critical lifst, but then moved from ICU to the Recovery Unit.  She is doing much better now.”

Quite simply, EMBA 53’s willingness to give saved Dai Yuxi’s life.

Reflecting on the experience of spending time with a little boy not much older than his son while in Shanghai, and how it inspired him to donate, Hjelle said, “I was reminded that, beneath the superficial differences that we in our basest moments emphasize and exploit, we are all part of the same human community. I am grateful to that little boy and his parents for conveying that lesson so clearly and effortlessly, though it may not have been their intent.”




Twenty-nine Chinese hospital administrators spent a recent Monday morning in a Knight Center classroom with WashU Olin’s Barton Hamilton, who shared stories about “the power of pain” as he lectured on managing innovation in the context of healthcare and beyond.

“Entrepreneurship is all about getting people to change from doing one thing to doing something else,” Hamilton, Olin’s Robert Brookings Smith Distinguished Professor of Economics, Management & Entrepreneurship, told the medical professionals from hospitals throughout China.

Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.
Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.

“This is extremely difficult. In medicine, getting your patient to follow your advice is extremely difficult, even when they’re sick and if they don’t change their behavior they could die,” Hamilton said. “As an entrepreneur, for you to success, you need them to change their behavior and buy your product or your service.”

Hamilton’s lecture on the pain entrepreneurs must demonstrate for potential customers was one class in a special two-week, custom-designed executive education course for the contingent of Chinese healthcare administrators. The program was the first large-scale initiative of its kind built jointly between WashU Olin Business School and the Washington University Medical School.

“It’s a nice representation of our global footprint and it’s a fairly high-profile collaboration with the medical school,” said Patrick Moreton, Professor of Practice in Strategy and Management who organized the course. “It’s something we really want to do more of. We’re using our expertise in China to be a bridge to the healthcare system here and the needs in China.”

Moreton said the medical school team was an active partner in the design of the two-week course, which ran from October 21 to November 1, 2019. The course was offered to members of the China National Health Commission, focusing on “precision healthcare and translational medicine.”

The Chinese visitors spent their mornings in lectures with a variety of Olin faculty who touched on different components of management. Several afternoons, they boarded buses for field trips to a selection of WashU-affiliated med school sites and St. Louis biotech hubs including BioSTL, the WashU telemedicine intensive care unit, the Siteman Cancer Center, St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes Jewish Hospital.

Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.
Chinese healthcare administrators during a field tour as part of their Olin-sponsored executive education program.

“The content of the morning was about how to put into practice what they were looking at in the afternoons—organizationally in their home institutions,” Moreton said. “We were at the boundary between WashU and the outside world in terms of technology.”

The program had its origins with Eric Jiang, MBA ’04 and vice president of Huici Health Management Co. “He was very interested in connecting health management to WashU,” Moreton said. The medical school recently formed a collaboration with Huici to help with physician training and the design of a new medical center and 1,000-bed hospital in China’s eastern city of Suzhou.

In addition to Moreton and Hamilton, Olin professors who participated in the program included Andrew Knight, who taught a session on “informal leadership”; Peter Boumgarden, focusing on collaboration and teamwork; Lamar Pierce on managing a medical research enterprise; Nick Argyres on managing innovation in therapeutics; Hillary Anger Elfenbein on emotional intelligence; and Panos Kouvelis on operational excellence.

“It’s an expanded collaboration with the medical school. This is the first time we’ve done anything in conjunction with the medical school for another group — and it just happens to be a global group,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. “This is an innovation in executive education. This is another way we’re bringing St. Louis into the world.”

Pictured above: A selection of representatives attending the China National Health Commission training program on precision healthcare and translational medicine.




Kelly Bean

Kelly Bean is a senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. Based at the Brookings Institution, she is charged with unifying and expanding executive education operations in St. Louis and Washington, DC.

She has more than 20 years’ executive education experience at the University of Virginia, Emory University, UCLA and the University of South Carolina. Here is the full version of her Q&A with Olin Business, which was excerpted in the magazine.

Olin Business: Why executive education? Why has that become your niche?

Kelly Bean: I am passionate about developing leaders and doing that at a point in their career where they’re ready—they can use their experiences to really push themselves and their organizations forward. That has been a clear purpose of mine. And I think you can have great impact with people when they’re ready to learn some things about themselves and be able to apply that in a work setting.

OB: You didn’t wake up one morning and decide this is your passion. How did that come to be?

KB: I spent about 10 years in the retail business before going back to get my MBA. When it really became solidified for me, I had somebody walk into my Coach store in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Her name was Nikki and she was the niece of somebody who was working for me. Nikki was 19 years old, she had baby, had just moved from California and there was something about her that I was like, “Oh, she’s really special.” This was her first job, she took it seriously, I ended up developing her into a key holder and then making her an assistant manager.

So, I did sort of wake up one day and say, “It’s not about selling purses” or “Would you like a pair of socks with that?” It’s about growing and developing the people that worked with me. That’s what I wanted to do. I decided that’s why I wanted to go back and get my master’s in human resources.

OB: What drew you to WashU?

KB: What drew me here was an opportunity to get back to a research-focused institution that really integrates business and business strategy with leadership development. What really attracted me was kind of the next phase of that thinking, which is the complexity of the world that we live in today. The leaders of the future need to be able to also navigate through a set of questions that Brookings brings to the table: What does it mean as we think about the strategy of our organization and the team that I’m leading?

What policy is out there? Do we need to be thinking about poverty? Do we need to be thinking about education? Do we need to be thinking about healthcare? How is the complexity of the world changing the way we think about how we go to market? And so now I think there’s this kind of third piece around social awareness, politics, policy, government—the integration of those things.

I think when you look at that sweet spot—how those three things combine—it’s the next future of executive education and that’s where I want to play.

OB: It sounds a little bit like the idea of values-based, data-driven leadership.

KB: Yeah, absolutely. I mean I was completely connected to that concept. I knew of WashU, I’d been here before, and I knew of Brookings, I knew of that match (between WashU and Brookings). Then coming here and feeling a culture of collaboration, of community, of excellence for the right reasons—you just feel it when you come here. You just feel it.

OB: Brookings is a relationship that is unique to us. How do you see that connection working here in St. Louis?

KB: I think the historical connection between Brookings and WashU makes this actually an easy thing to be able to do. I see it very much in alignment with what Dean Taylor wants to do with WashU from a globalization standpoint, but then also recognizing that St. Louis is a city, a region, where the globalization of business is happening right here, too.

OB: We want to more closely identify our executive education programming and curriculum with the Brookings Institution, correct?

KB: Yes, absolutely. What I described earlier with this strategy/business/leadership combination and the integration of policy—for lack of a better word—that’s the sweet spot where we want to be able to help leaders in their organizations, and how can that integration impact their own organizations.

Bringing in these angles of policy and social awareness—the intersection of policy, strategy and leadership is the sweet spot.

When you’re thinking about strategy, you have to think about what’s happening in the world. I mean, we woke up this morning and the premier of China has called on the people of China to rise up in a war against US products because of tariffs. Well, if you’re a leader in an organization, what impact is that going to have? If not today, what impact is it going to have down the road?

It brings to life the purpose of the firm, but it allows you as leaders and as managers to be able to make a different set of decisions because it’s a different conversation.

OB: What do you see as the future for executive education? What trends are you watching?

KB: I think the future of exec ed is about creating an offering that becomes stackable certificates.

The big trend is really around personalization of a learning journey. Each individual leader needs to be able to ensure their experience helps them achieve their personal and career growth. So, the beauty of the stackable certificates is it provides some guidance on what does that look like for me—in both what I’m doing today and where I want to go?

Another one is “anytime, anywhere, when I want it”—using technology to be a piece of that puzzle, which might be providing some content, but then you come together to discuss the content and the impact that’s having for you. There’s this kind of omni-learning type of environment that is beginning to happen where, depending on the individual, there’s a variety of options and choices.

I think the trend has been and will continue to be a focus on the total development of individuals, which comes down to health and wellness and mindfulness, in addition to understanding the functions of business: What is my role? What role do I need to play tomorrow? What role do I need to play today? What role did I used to play that is not something I need to play anymore? There’s this constant evolution of self.

OB: How important is it that the faculty is research based when it comes to executive education?

KB: You have a set of frameworks that says, “Here’s what some of the research shows, here is a way to think about problems. Let’s do this case,” and then you turn it into, “So, why does all of this matter?” It’s a more facilitative type of discussion and dialogue, but there’s an intellectual curiosity that both types of faculty—research- and experience-based—have. But the ones that have a little bit more of that research training can do a little sidebar for a few minutes on the scholarly work that adds a whole level of credibility.

OB: You’ve worked for some highly ranked institutions. How important are the rankings?

KB: I have been so fortunate in my career to work at incredible institutions or partner with other institutions that are ranked somewhere between 1 and 100. And every single one of those institutions has provided new thinking and an opportunity for leaders to grow. You have to be clear on your purpose and you have to be open to seeing a variety of different perspectives. The ranking is not where people make their decisions. They make their decisions based on the relationship that you have.

OB: You’ve spoken before about helping executives develop a strong sense of purpose and vision—seeing beyond the functional and technical skills and going deeper. Is that what we’re talking about here?

KB: The world is changing so much that we’re going to always need to continue to build functional and technical skills.

One of my mentors who got me into this business would say to clients: “We can build awareness. We can build understanding. And we can build competence.”

To build competence, it’s having an experience where you make a decision. It works. It doesn’t work. You need to bring others in. You innovate on what that looks like. You experience it. Sometimes it’s the failure. Sometimes it’s the success. But you don’t get that in a five-day session. You get that over time. I’d say competence versus competency. It’s not that I need these six competencies to be a good leader. We are about delivering experiences that build the competence piece. And sometimes, it’s about the awareness and the understanding. And that’s OK.

OB: If we were to sit down here a year from now, what are some of the things you’d like to be able to say that you’ve done? Or what are the things that are fine that we left alone?

KB: Well, I think the core programming in both Brookings and Olin is very good. I think we have our arms wrapped around the challenges that individuals and organizations are facing. We’re starting the right discussions. And what I’d like for us to be able to see is a more intentional way of bringing those together that really reflects on the development journey for individuals and organizations.

And I’d like for us to—and it might take longer than a year—to work with companies and corporations to bring this concept of integrating social and policy trends with values and data. We can do that. The key is to start to have conversations with organizations so as they’re thinking about what they want to do with their talent populations, we’re part of that conversation.




Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.

The roots of executive education run deep in St. Louis and in Washington, DC, at our partner, The Brookings Institution. They’re about to run deeper.

In St. Louis, our expertise in executive education runs back at least to 1955, when Lee M. Liberman wrote to a colleague about a faculty-led management seminar he’d attended as a 34-year-old. Liberman later served four decades on the WashU’s board of trustees alongside two chancellors.

Also, in the late ’50s, Brookings launched two-week conferences aimed at “men of high caliber at the executive level,” according to a journal writeup at the time. Jointly, Olin and Brookings have partnered for years on leadership and management education in DC, taught by Olin faculty.

Although we’re already highly ranked globally for executive education—12th in the nation and 32nd worldwide, according to the Financial Times—we know we can lead further on the strengths we already have.

Leveraging our unique partnership with Brookings, we’ve created a joint organization that deeply entwines Olin’s research-based leadership in executive education with the global policy and economic expertise at the world’s premier think-tank. We’ve already rebranded the existing program as WashU at Brookings. We envision the relationship growing further still.

“The leaders of the future need to be able to navigate a set of questions that Brookings brings to the table,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. Based at Brookings, commuting between DC and St. Louis, she is charged with unifying and expanding executive education operations in both locations.

As Kelly sees it, Brookings sits at the nexus of business, governmental policy and social impact. “That’s the sweet spot where we want to be able to help leaders in their organizations: How can that integration impact their own organizations?”

At the same time, our St. Louis-based operation continues to draw business from corporate partners eager for access to our expertise on leadership development, change management and strategic alignment our faculty experts can provide. Sam Chun, assistant dean and director of executive education, is about to depart for the Netherlands, for example, to begin delivering Olin’s first international exec ed program in leadership development for Rabobank, a Dutch multinational financial services firm.

Other new partners for Olin exec ed include distribution service provider Bunzl Distribution, pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, and AB InBev—which was attracted by the closer connection and program potential of our Brookings relationship. “We’re designing the program with AB InBev as we speak,” Sam said.

“That’s key,” Sam says. We don’t simply build programs and hope executives show up in the classroom. “We ask the market and design a program for them. And because of that, they come.”

With a deeper connection to Brookings, we anticipate DC-based policy experts leading courses for executives in St. Louis, with content delivered either in person or through our Center for Digital Education. Likewise, we see a world with expanded content from Olin faculty in St. Louis offered to executives in the DC area.

Those issues align deeply with Olin’s own DNA, focused as we are on values-based, data-driven decision-making in a global context and equipping leaders with the tools to change the world, for good. It’s just a bonus that the nation’s top CEOs, through the influential Business Roundtable, are coming around to our way of thinking about executive leadership.

“I think the historical connection between Brookings and WashU makes this so effective,” Kelly said.

Our focus on executive education isn’t new, but it’s more important today than ever. We all thrive when, as Olin deans realized decades ago, we serve the needs of corporate partners, bringing the latest business research into the boardroom. It also remains an important part of Olin’s mission of lifelong learning.

It’s the future of executive education—and WashU Olin is leading the way.

Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.