Tag: Executive Education



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.




Kelly Bean

Please join me in welcoming Kelly Bean as our director of executive education and professor of practice in leadership.

Kelly is president and CEO of executive education at UVA Darden and has more than 20 years’ experience in executive education at UVA, Emory, UCLA and USC, before which she worked in industry.

I have charged Kelly with unifying and expanding our St. Louis and Washington, DC, exec ed operations, and she will be based primarily in our Brookings Institution office in DC with significant time in St. Louis.

This position was endowed by a major supporter, benefactor and friend of Olin, the late Charles Knight, so Kelly will be the inaugural Charles F. Knight Distinguished Director of Executive Education. She will also become a senior associate dean and join my senior leadership team, reflecting the importance I attach to exec ed and, in particular, to building the Brookings partnership.

Kelly joins us May 1.

I would also like to announce the promotion of Ian Dubin to associate dean and managing director of the WashU Brookings Partnership. Please also join me in congratulating Ian. Ian has been instrumental in building our Brookings partnership and he will work alongside Mary Ellen Joyce, associate dean and executive director of the partnership.

In terms of organizational structure, Ian and Mary Ellen will report to Kelly, as will Sam Chun, assistant dean for executive education. Ian and Mary Ellen will also have a dotted line to Lamar Pierce, professor of organization and strategy and associate dean for the WashU Brookings Partnership, who overseas the academic development of our DC programmes, working alongside Kelly.

We have a world-class executive education team in both DC and St. Louis and are poised to take Olin to the next level in this important and impactful area of our activity.




Zandy Schorsch, MBA ’19, contributed this blog post on behalf of Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning.

Oscar Wilde once said that rugby is a good occasion for keeping 30 bullies far from the center of a city. This semester, students from the undergraduate and graduate levels of Washington University Olin Business School have been working with the Center for Experiential Learning to perform the opposite—assess the viability of bringing a professional rugby team to the city of St. Louis.

Rugby is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States, and Major League Rugby was founded last year to provide fans with professional-level rugby competition here in the states. The league kicked off its inaugural season with seven original teams. With nationally televised games on CBS and sold out tickets in many of the cities, there is a growing sense of optimism as MLR prepares for its second season.

The league has aggressive plans for expansion, with teams in New York and Toronto joining for the 2019 season and Atlanta, D.C., and Boston joining in 2020. St. Louis has emerged as one of the potential cities for an MLR expansion team, and the CEL was hired by a local entrepreneur to determine whether such a venture is feasible.

The CEL’s client, a husband and wife duo with a lifelong passion for rugby, believe the loss of the city’s football franchise has created an opening for rugby. Through dozens of interviews with rugby players, coaches, executives, and MLR league officials, the CEL team developed a strong understanding of how a rugby team in St. Louis would operate and the number of fans it would be able to attract.

Although St. Louis has always been a baseball town, there are hundreds of registered rugby players in the local area across all levels of the sport, as well as several nationally recognized rugby programs.

While the CEL team was able to develop a demand forecast for rugby in St. Louis, only so much can be learned about stadium financing and team operations from phone interviews and emails. As a result, the client decided to bring the CEL team to Glendale, Colorado, to meet with the Raptors, the MLR regular season champions, to learn more about the business side of rugby operations.

Learning about rugby operations from the Raptors.

During a full-day of meetings with the Raptors, the CEL team learned about stadium financing, team and stadium operating costs, revenue drivers, marketing and sales strategies, and unexpected expenses associated with managing a professional sports team.

The CEL team also got to learn the fundamentals of rugby from some of the professional players, such as tackling techniques and field goal mechanics.

While the CEL team requires more practice if they hope to play professionally, the data the team was able to collect from the Raptors proved invaluable for their analysis. The client capped off the trip with dinner at a local pub, a great opportunity for the student team to connect with their client informally.

Upon returning to St. Louis, the CEL team took the lessons learned from the Raptors to develop a financial model the client could use to make an informed decision about bringing professional rugby to St. Louis. The team developed an intuitive financial model that accounted for attendance numbers, concession sales, merchandise sales, stadium costs, advertising, and a host of other variables posed several challenges.

Effectively communicating the outputs from the financial model, as well as highlighting the key assumptions and inputs that produce those outputs, was also critically important.

By building a strong relationship with the client throughout the semester, and leveraging the abundant resources of the CEL and Washington University, the CEL team was able to provide a final deliverable that gave the client a holistic view of everything that goes into managing a professional sports team and stadium.

The financial analysis demonstrated that a team in St. Louis is feasible, so be on the lookout for a local MLR team in near future.

Overall, the CEL is a unique opportunity for students to work on real-world projects that have a direct impact on their community. Bringing a professional sports team to St. Louis is the type of project that major consulting firms and investment banks would be envious of, and for the clients who hire the CEL, they get to receive professional-level services from the very students who, upon graduation, will be joining those types of companies.




Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library in Simon Hall on October 12.

Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen
during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library
in Simon Hall on October 12.

When Ron Allen first arrived on WashU’s campus for a new job as business school librarian, there wasn’t one—at least, not one adequate to serve a world-class business school.

In 1986, Robert Virgil was dean, on a mission to raise Olin Business School’s profile among global business schools. Simon Hall was under construction and a new, state-of-the-art business library was part of the plan to help propel Olin to new heights. Allen was to be the first to build the library from a tiny nook and to hold an endowed directorship for the position as the Asa F. Seay Librarian.

“There was a sense of starting from nothing and growing this library into a first-rate service for faculty and students,” Allen recalled on October 5, on the occasion of his retirement from WashU, 33 years after his arrival. The New York City native—who confessed that “I don’t know if I could have identified St. Louis on a map”—spent three decades building, defending, and morphing the library through changes in leadership and technology.

“He was a change agent like nobody else over the course of his career,” said Ron King, Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, in his tribute remarks. “The heart of the school was the library.”

At an event in the ornate reading room at the Al and Ruth Kopolow Business Library, three former deans and Todd Milbourn, vice dean and Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance, shared their recollections of Allen’s career and contributions.

Milbourn recalled how Allen “got me wired in” as a brand new faculty member in the business school when he arrived, describing Allen as a partner in research who would find and help faculty exploit new data sets for their work.

Former deans Stuart Greenbaum and Mahendra Gupta recalled occasions when they tried to commandeer space from the library to accommodate expanding programs at Olin—attempts Allen rebuffed every time.

“You fell in love with the place when you walked into Kopolow,” Greenbaum said, crediting Allen with the environment he’d created. Gupta built on that remark, calling the library “the intellectual future of the school.”

When Allen came to WashU to run the business library, it was a standalone entity. It’s since been absorbed as part of the WashU library system. He said he’s come to terms with the idea of retirement and is looking forward to downsizing from a house to a Central West End apartment and his Florida condo.

“His handprint is all over this library and the way it was shaped and developed,” said former Dean Robert Virgil. “It was why our students wanted to stay here and study here.”