Tag: Executive Education



Consider the parent playing the role of air traffic controller with his or her child’s busy schedule. First, there is homework for the kid to finish in the next hour. Then comes soccer practice followed by a piano lesson for the ensuing two hours.

“If the parent knows the deadlines and the kid just does their work, it’s the best of both worlds,” said co-author Stephen Nowlis, the August A. Busch Jr. Distinguished Professor of Marketing at Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. “But if the parent is trying to get work done on their time …

“The big picture is, setting all these deadlines seems like a good idea. But too many deadlines makes you use your time less efficiently.”

Nowlis

That was the central finding of an eight-test study published May 15 in the Journal of Consumer Research titled, “When an Hour Feels Shorter: Future Boundary Tasks Alter Consumption by Contracting Time.” The boundaries in question are upcoming appointments, meetings, tasks, etc. And the researchers found that people facing them: (a) perceive they have less time than in reality; (b) perform fewer tasks as a result; and (c) are less likely to attempt extended-time tasks that can be feasibly accomplished or more lucrative.

When up against such an upcoming appointment, people tended to procrastinate on the long-time chore such as writing that report and reverted to working on shorter-time tasks, as in making a work call or typing up a quick synopsis. Or they’d skip both entirely to focus on the simplest of work forms, like answering emails …  or scheduling more boundaries.

“It’s something we can all relate to,” said Nowlis, who started this project when co-author Gabriela N. Tonietto of Rutgers was a PhD candidate at Olin and co-author Selin A. Malkoc of Ohio State was an Olin colleague. “It could be anything. You have a deadline, and what do you do with your time? We don’t think about it as much from the perspective of consuming it, but, realistically, time is something we probably consume as much if not more than any other resource. So how are we consuming our time?”

The researchers conducted more than eight tests over a two-year period beginning in 2015 involving 2,300-plus participants to see how people in various situations arrived at budgeting scheduled and unscheduled windows of time. Among the tests included in the Journal of Consumer Research study were:

  • Using the Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) survey platform, 200 participants — split evenly between those with an upcoming appointment and those with a free schedule — were asked to pick between a 30-minute chore paying $2.50 and a 45-minute chore paying $5. They had an hour’s time. But the participants with an upcoming appointment felt they had 7.82 fewer minutes in their hour to commit to their chore than the people with an open schedule.
  • At Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, 134 passengers were asked to take a 15-minute survey — about half of the passengers had 30 minutes before boarding, the rest had one hour. Some 26 percent of the people facing a shorter window agreed to participate, compared to 46 percent of the passengers with four times the allotted survey window.
  • At Washington University, 158 undergraduates were told they had either a strict, five-minute window until their appointment or an implied boundary with “about five minutes to do whatever you want.” In the same five-minute period, the latter group accomplished 2.38 tasks compared to 1.86 tasks by the hard-timeline group.

“How do you best manage your time? How much scheduling do you need?” Nowlis said. “These are interesting questions.”

Their study provided some answers for trying to prevent issues. Basically, it counsels people to schedule wisely: Maybe leave a chunk of the work day open to accomplish extended-time tasks.

“If you have some big tasks, too many scheduled things will affect your productivity,” Nowlis said. “A lot of scheduling is fine for shorter tasks.

“So find the environment that works for you.”

This piece ran originally in The Source from WashU public affairs.




Anjan Thakor is an economist with purpose—and the business world is catching on. Thakor’s research covers wide ground, from corporate finance to banking and corporate governance. However, the John E Simon Professor of Finance’s most recent endeavor got more personal: How can an organization connect its employees to its overall purpose, encouraging them to dive in and give their all along the way?

Along with Robert E. Quinn, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Thakor’s wisdom is featured on the cover of the Harvard Business Review’s July-August edition.

Thakor and Quinn begin by introducing readers to Gerry Anderson, president of DTE Energy, who struggled to engage his employees following the Great Recession of 2008. Having been taught that good economics mean treating employees first by their own self interest, Anderson was reluctant to use empty rhetoric about meaning—much like many firm leaders Thakor and Quinn investigated.

However, the researchers tell, a shift in focus that challenged employees to embrace purpose turned out to be a major success. Thakor and Quinn’s research seeks to provide a framework company leaders can use to develop, embrace, and implement a purpose that drives their organization.

Thakor

The biggest problem Thakor and Quinn find is that the companies they consult for wait until a point of crisis to find a company purpose. Encouraging a break from the “cynical ‘transactional’ view of employee motivation,” though, can be taken at any time—the sooner, the better. The researchers set up an eight-step process for finding, implementing, and connecting a purpose for employees—one that includes such steps as “envision an inspired workforce,” “recognize the need for authenticity,” and “connect the people to the purpose.”

The most important theme that runs through these eight steps? Be authentic, real, and passionate. Thakor and Quinn have seen companies thrive and fail—and they know the perils of a haphazard campaign based on feel-good words and uninspired drivel. Purpose, for them, is something entirely different. It’s a sense of passion—a vision for a corporation that inspires employees, turns them into leaders, and treats them as intelligent, autonomous human beings.

The work Thakor and Quinn are asking companies to undertake is not easy—it’s part of a process that involves humility, openness, and risk. But these researchers believe in the beauty of an impassioned, purpose-driven company—and they’re hoping to change the business world, for good.

Update 7/25/2018: Thakor and Quinn were interviewed, along with DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson, for the HBR Podcast on turning purpose into competitive, profitable performance. Listen to their conversation. 




Graduation for the 2018 master of science in leadership class at Brookings.

Joining the members of the 2018 master of science in leadership class from
the Olin Brookings Executive Education programme.

I think everyone who works at WashU gets the question from friends and acquaintances, “Does work slow down for you over the summer?” For Olin faculty and staff members, I’m guessing the quick answer is “No.”

Granted, the day-to-day activities, interactions and even locations may be different in the summer months than during the academic year, but from my viewpoint, the Olin team’s focus on supporting the mission of the school remains strong throughout the year.

Since the final chords of Pomp and Circumstance ended in spring, Olin faculty and staff have been hard at work encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation on a global stage, promoting Olin in worldwide media, growing our academic and research programs, expanding services for our students, connecting with alumni around the world…and teaching me the finer points of the backyard game of cornhole (I hear washers is the next game I need to learn.).

My busy Olin summer began with a May 31 conference on “New Approaches to Biomedical Innovation,” a workshop arranged by Anjan Thakor that drew participants from around the world. I was privileged to introduce the keynote speaker, Greg Simon, president of the Biden Cancer Initiative.

Soon after, I had the opportunity to appear on a BBC business news programme to discuss the importance of the MBA. Indeed, my time with Aaron Heslehurst on “Talking Business” included some sparring over the relevance of the MBA when many tech entrepreneurs have built businesses without such a credential.

But it also offered the opportunity to widely share the Olin name and our commitment to identifying and cultivating our students’ potential—and our unique approach to preparing leaders equipped to synthesize huge amounts of data through a values-based lens.
Promoting our name, our reputation and our thought leadership also gives us the opportunity to participate in the national debate, as when American Public Media’s Marketplace programme recently turned to Olin’s Asaf Manela for his perspective on proprietary trading in a story about The Volcker Rule.

I also had the opportunity to visit Brookings for another joyful event, a graduation ceremony for recipients of the master of science in leadership program through our joint Brookings Executive Education programme. It was the first time that the President of the Brookings Institution and a Dean from Washington University participated in a graduation ceremony together in nearly 100 years.

Dean Grandpa with Madeleine.

Dean Grandpa with Madeleine.

The themes of leadership and career preparation continued in Tel Aviv in late June, where I participated in a panel discussion on “Producing Ideas and Talent of the Future” at the Israel Summer Business Academy with Steve Malter and Aaron Bobick, dean of WashU’s School of Engineering & Applied Sciences, and Provost Holden Thorp.

Next month, my whirlwind summer concludes with a trip to Shanghai to visit EMBA students in our programme with Fudan University. That journey will include a number of visits with China-based alumni, who remain important ambassadors for Olin as they launch, build and flourish in their careers.

While there is great Olin energy around the world—from growing degree programs, research activities and practicum projects on at least five continents, I am excited that the momentum continues to build in St. Louis as we grow our capacity to serve our students and alumni.

I’ve very much enjoyed meeting some of the new people that have recently joined Olin and I look forward to continuing to get to know more Olin faculty, staff and students…perhaps over a game of washers.

On the topic of backyard fun and games, I hope you have a chance to connect with friends and family over the summer months. The best moment for me this summer has been spending time with my first grandchild, Madeleine, in Sydney, Australia.

I’ve already started recruiting her for Washington University Class of 2040.

“The Desk of the Dean” appears monthly.




Jennifer Whitten

Jennifer Whitten will join Olin as associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center on July 9. Jennifer comes to Olin from Arizona State University, where she is the director of career services and  instructor in the MBA program at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

At ASU, Jennifer managed career support for a portfolio of four MBA platforms, 10 masters’ platforms and alumni career services. Under her leadership, the W. P. Carey Career Center has seen significant increases in student engagement and employment percentages as well as growth and expansion of employer relationships and activities.

Aside from a stint in Arizona state government focused on creating a career management program for over 35,000 state employees, Jennifer has spent nearly two decades in higher education, serving undergraduate and graduate students in both academic advising and career development and placement roles.

By coming to Washington University, Jennifer is returning to her Midwestern roots and she will bring with her the experience and drive to lead a nimble Weston Career Center team that is focused on preparing our students not only for their first job but for their careers well into the future, connecting with our strong alumni network, and expanding the opportunities available to our students through proactive business development.

I am grateful for the efforts of the Weston Career Center Director search committee chaired by Senior Associate Deans Steve Malter and Patrick Moreton as well as the valuable feedback from many members of the Olin community throughout this search process. I also want to say a special thank you to Karen Heise for her excellent work serving as the interim director of the Weston Career Center.




Welcome to the debut of “The Desk of the Dean,” a monthly feature of the Olin Blog by Dean Mark P. Taylor. This column will appear on the first Wednesday of each month.

A few weeks ago, I met a group of St. Louis-based Olin alumni for cocktails, all of whom now work in the healthcare industry. As one does at a cocktail party, they asked how things were going at Olin: “What are you working on?”

I have an answer to that question, which I follow with a question of my own. Sometimes, I think my question surprises our alumni, but I’ll get to that shortly.

When I’m casually asked about our plans for Olin, I’m aware nobody really wants a PowerPoint presentation or a dense review of Olin’s strategic plan over hors d’oevres and a glass of wine. They want the big picture, the 30,000-foot view: Where are we headed?

As dean of a highly ranked business school, I’m confronted with this scenario fairly often—at the gate awaiting a flight, in the queue at the cinema, even on an elevator. What kind of business school would we be if I weren’t prepared with an elevator pitch for just these moments?

Mine goes something like this: At Olin, we’re enhancing our programme to cultivate business leaders with solid analytical skills, grounded in a strong value system, who can change the world, for good. We’re creating a programme that will prepare innovative, entrepreneurial leaders with a global perspective on business. We’re taking Olin from good to great.

And that’s when the alumni get my question: What can Olin do for you?

We are not bashful about asking our former students for something—particularly their donations or their time. So, when I ask this question of our alumni, I find that they’re frequently surprised. But over the nearly 600 days since I became dean, I’ve also found this question resonates.

They want to know they graduated from an institution that has continued to produce market-ready graduates long after they earned their diplomas. So, I know we’re on the right track when I get a parent’s letter praising Konnie Henning, associate director of academic and student affairs, for how she coached a student through difficult times to see her graduate and enter a thriving career.

Alumni want to know their alma mater produces path-leading research to give them a competitive edge and help them peer around the corner ahead of emerging business trends. So, I’m confident we’re on the right track when our faculty publishes 79 papers in top academic journals in a single year. Their goal 42 percent greater than last year.

I feel the same when global agribusiness company Syngenta invites Ling Dong and Durai Sundaramoorthi to present their groundbreaking, Olin Award-winning research that will help farmers optimize their seed choices based on weather, soil and geographic conditions.

In short, our alumni want to know their diploma is actually worth more than it was when they earned it. I’m fond of saying a WashU education is not a bond to be cashed in. It’s an equity that can grow and pay dividends. A degree from WashU’s Olin Business School should mean something when our alumni ask for that next pay raise or apply for the next promotion.

That’s what we’re working on at Olin.

Pictured above: The reception at Third Degree Glass Factory ahead of the luncheon honoring the 2018 Olin Emerging Leaders in April 2018. Exactly the sort of event where I answer these sorts of questions about the direction of Olin Business School.

“The Desk of the Dean” appears on the first Wednesday of the month.


Olin’s executive education programs, spanning the Midwest and the nation’s capital through WashU programming at the Brookings Institution, placed 12th nationally and 32nd in the world in a new Financial Times ranking released Sunday night.

Olin also ranked fourth in the nation in the percentage of women participating in executive education programs, with 47 percent female participation. Olin’s programs also placed highly in terms of program growth, ranking 11th globally and third in the nation. The Times based that metric on revenue growth in open programs as well as growth in revenues from repeat business.

“We help develop business executives at over 150 companies across the nation, amounting to more than 2,000 leaders every year,” said Samuel Chun, assistant dean of executive education and professor of management practice. “We’re gratified that the Financial Times rankings recognizes this, and we’ll strive to increase our reach and impact.”

Olin provides a wide variety of “open enrollment” executive education programs on the St. Louis campus, on topics ranging from marketing strategy and motivating people to emotional intelligence and finance for non-financial managers. The program also encompasses courses through the Brookings Executive Education program, where participants can take courses in leadership, strategic thinking, and leading change, among others.

Olin Executive Education designs content to allow leaders to apply what they’ve learned immediately when they return to work. While Olin frequently draws executives from the St. Louis region, it also works with corporate partners across the nation and around the globe.

Most programs are held at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center on Washington University’s campus. However, the Olin Executive Education team can conduct programs at venues around the world. Since 1993, Olin corporate programs have successfully served thousands of employees from a diverse client base.