Tag: Executive MBA



It’s a familiar tune by now: We can’t host this annual event in person, so what do we do? Can we even have it virtually? What are we going to do?

Those were all questions Jackie Carter, Diversity & Inclusion Programs Manager, and WashU Olin’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee asked as they began to prepare for the sixth annual Diversity & Inclusion Expo. Typically held during the dean’s welcome back event, the expo brings together groups from Olin and throughout the university to showcase resources and ways students, faculty members or staff members can get involved with multicultural, justice and equity efforts.

Carter and her team’s decision ultimately came down to the importance of such an event for the WashU Olin community: “Diversity, equity inclusion work is not one-person work, and it’s not about just having affinity groups,” she said. And this experience was an opportunity to showcase the depth and the value of diversity and inclusion at Olin.

Over the course of 90 minutes, 18 groups opened Zoom meeting spaces as faculty, staff and students visited and learned about the resources and clubs they can get involved with.

For Carter, the annual expo is an important space for students, faculty and staff to bring their beginning-of-the-year energy and enthusiasm to get involved and learn about opportunities and resources they might not know about.

And for those who attended, that’s exactly what they got. Staff and students reflected on the experience:

“ I learned that the creation of space for faculty and staff voices to be heard came from years of them being silenced and not being heard. Finally the administration realized that faculty and staff needed to be brought to the table, especially concerning HR issues and issues that are inherently unique to that population. It was good to know that faculty and staff are being thought about. In my previous position, that didn’t exist. Without a diverse workplace, diverse ideas and thoughts can’t emerge.” Leia Burroughs, event specialist, graduate programs

“I had the chance to talk to undergraduate students who wanted to know how to engage with the Latin American community in St. Louis. It was refreshing to see people who wanted to connect, share interests and keep a positive attitude.” Gabriel Samanez, MBA ’21, president, Latin American Business Association

“The Diversity and Inclusion Expo was a great opportunity to connect with students and faculty to share our plans for D&I work this year, and learn about what others are doing as well. We’re looking forward to partnering with other groups on campus to host events throughout the year that champion diversity and inclusion efforts.” Alex Halfpap, MBA ’21, president, Olin Women in Business

“In times like these, Olin Black is a space for dialogue and action. We were excited to meet students and staff who are just as passionate about Olin Black’s mission as much as we are. In an hour and 30 minutes we were able to converse with admission personnel, recruiting coaches, and students who want to create a meaningful inclusive and diverse Olin.” Fanta Kaba and Déjá Miles, officers, Olin Black MBA Association

“We showed our determination to continue the tradition of diversity at the Greater China Club.” Lin Cheng, MBA ’21, vice president, Greater China Club

“I think this event was valuable because we are surrounded by diversity in our community and it’s our responsibility to keep pushing the needle in ensuring we are living equitable lives. The D&I expo helped to bring us together and showed that students in the community are committed to growing into well-rounded leaders who would acknowledge the diverse perspectives around them while creating an environment for equity and justice to thrive.” Itohan Enadeghe, co-president, Olin Africa Business Club


Though this year’s event looked and felt different than previous years,  Carter is pleased with the results—though she knows this event is just the beginning each year of developing relationships with students, faculty and staff who are determined to embrace diversity and inclusion.

“My hope for WashU Olin is that we can be a place of true inclusion and belonging. That regardless of my race, my background, my gender, I’ll feel a part of it,” she said.

“And that we can all understand that equality isn’t something being taken away from someone else. If I make something better for someone else, it makes the whole better.”  




Brian Estes and Bill Purcell, EMBA

Two WashU Olin alums have distinguished themselves among their peers as experts in cryptocurrency investing just three years after pairing up on an industry-changing investment fund.

Brian Estes and Bill Purcell, both EMBA ’17, have been cited by two separate industry groups as the No. 1 performing fund for both a one- and three-year period. Estes founded the company, Off the Chain Capital, in 2016. After meeting at Olin, the two paired up to launch a new fund focused on cryptocurrency investing with $30 million under management and capacity for $100 million.

The pair was also featured August 11 in online trade publication Bitcoin Magazine under the headline, “With value approach, Off The Chain Capital is changing the bitcoin investment narrative.”

The pair targets high network individuals, endowments and institutions, that want exposure to digital assets—cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin—which make up a substantial portion of the fund’s investment strategy.

“Very few fund managers are able to outperform bitcoin,” Purcell said. “We’re figuring that out through a unique value style. The strategy is to implement the Graham/Dodd, Warren Buffett-style of investing. We’re using that style in the digital asset space. That’s what’s unique about what we’re doing.”

Indices operated by Vision Hill Group in New York City and Hedge Fund Research Inc. have ranked Off the Chain as leaders in their space over one- and three-year investment horizons. “One of our goals is to be the best performing fund—not just in crypto but in investments in general,” Purcell said. “What we’re finding is that people aren’t copying our style because it’s been overlooked.”

Meanwhile, Fidelity recently tapped into the pair’s cryptocurrency investing expertise for a recently published bitcoin research brief. “Because bitcoin is a liquid market open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when people need liquidity, bitcoin is there to clear those trades,” Estes said for the paper. “It clears properly and offers a pure market all the time but is also accompanied by higher volatility. You have to be willing to pay that price to own such an asset.”

In the Bitcoin Magazine story, the writer notes that Purcell’s and Estes’ investment style could mitigate bitcoin’s reputation as a volatile investment asset, quoting Estes, who say, “The fund captures all of the upside and provides a cushion when the markets decline. This value style of investing gives investors a margin of safety in the portfolio.”

The story goes on to say, “As one of the best-performing funds in the space, it has shown that reliable performance and (bitcoin) can go hand in hand.”

Pictured above: Brian Estes, left, and Bill Purcell, EMBA ’17.




Stuart Bunderson teaching an Olin EMBA course.

In recent weeks—even in the midst of a global pandemic—good news has abounded for WashU Olin’s Executive MBA program. In June, The Economist ranked the Olin EMBA 18th globally and seventh in the United States, highlighting our strong research faculty and career results for a 20-spot rise in the magazine’s lineup.

And in the past week, two members of our EMBA class of 2020 landed on Poets & Quants’ esteemed listing of the “best and brightest” executive MBA students in the country. My congratulations to Faye Prevedell Dixon and Jason Carter.

Yet more good news has only just begun to emerge after a yearlong effort that’s been humming quietly in the background. A reboot of Olin’s EMBA has now received faculty approval to move forward and will begin with the next class starting this fall.

Focus on leadership development

The new EMBA curriculum will provide a strong new focus on the core theory of leadership at WashU Olin—the drive toward values-based, data-driven leadership. It will guide students through a deep examination of how they view themselves as leaders, how they want to grow and what steps they must take to achieve their leadership goals.

“This is designed to be a transformational experience,” said Nick Argyres, Vernon W. & Marion K. Piper Professor of Strategy, who co-led the EMBA review committee with Ron King, senior lecturer in accounting.

“We want this to be very personal, very customized to each student, to match what each student is actually experiencing at that time and to reach them on an intellectual level and an emotional level,” Nick said.

In addition to the committee, I am grateful for the impetus provided for this initiative individuals such as Carl Casale, EMBA ’92, who was named an Olin distinguished alumnus in 2007. Carl—an ag industry veteran who serves on the board of Syngenta and is a senior investment partner with Ospraie Ag Science—was a major driving force on this initiative.

The reboot process also included a listening tour with leaders at major companies in the St. Louis region where we draw our students—firms such as Bayer, Centene, Express Scripts, Nestlé Purina and Schnucks. The effort guided the task force’s understanding of what our neighbours require as they mould experienced managers into the next generation of senior leaders.

So, while students run through a rigorous gauntlet of coursework in strategy, negotiation, accounting, finance, economics, marketing and operations, they’ll also be working with leadership coaches to refine their goals, engage in leadership development activities and draft their personal statements of higher purpose.

Familiarity with ‘big data’ concepts

“They’ll share their refined leadership statements with one another as they’re going out the door so they can see the kind of impact they’ll have individually and as a group as they go forward,” said Stuart Bunderson, director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center. “I’m convinced that this is something we have that’s unique and very contemporary.”

But that’s not all. We also heard from our neighbours in the business community that the next generation of top leaders must be conversant in concepts involving big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The new EMBA will provide experienced managers an understanding of data science and analytics and how they apply to business. It will guide them through societal issues data science raises and build an understanding of how to create and lead data science teams. In other words: How to make and manage a data-driven organization.

I’m delighted by the work we’ve undertaken, further reinforcing WashU Olin’s position as an indispensable resource.

The Olin Executive MBA program, like all of our work, is core to our mission: We produce research and disseminate it in the form of teaching and experience. A business school provides a service to the business community and society—around the world and in our own backyard.




WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Jim Holbrook, EMBA ’96, adviser, Advantage Solutions: Sales Marketing, Technology 

Last spring, when Olin’s Executive MBA candidates traveled to Washington, DC, for a residency at the Brookings Institution, they had a special guest tag along. Jim Holbrook, who got his EMBA 23 years ago, accepted an invitation to participate in the residency —an option that didn’t exist when he graduated.

Olin opened the opportunity to EMBA alums so they could benefit from today’s experience, allowing them to participate for the cost of airfare.

“I got the invitation from Olin saying it was a four-day program focused on healthcare,” Holbrook said. “Literally, I responded in four seconds.”

For Holbrook, the experience was enlightening, to say the least. It’s given him an enriched outlook on how to provide more health benefits to employees, yet control costs—especially rising drug costs. While he calls his participation in the Brookings residency serendipitous, Holbrook is also an advocate of finding a self-curated way to take advantage of Olin’s programs and resources.

“I’ve gone back and done a guest lecture or two. And, along the way, I’ve kept in touch with some of my classmates, from an alumni standpoint, so my relationship with the school has continued. I also recommend joining the Eliot Society, which provides tremendous access.”

Stay in touch.

Center for Experiential Learning

Business Development

  • Dorothy Kittner, MBA ’94, associate dean and director of business development and corporate relations 314-935-6365 | kittner@wustl.edu

Alumni & Development

Weston Career Center

Executive Education

  • Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and professor of practice in leadership 202-797-6000 | beank@wustl.edu



The latest ranking of global Executive MBA programs by The Economist magazine places WashU Olin 18th in the world and places us third in the world for teacher quality.

Among 40 ranked EMBA programs with a 100% domestic presence, WashU Olin placed seventh. Among US programs, Olin also notched sixth for career development, second in faculty quality and third for the “percentage of alumni who have been promoted or grown their company since graduation.”

Olin last appeared in the magazine’s ranking in 2015. Since then, the program rose 20 spots, with the biggest increase coming in career development, where Olin rose from 41 to 17 globally.

In terms of faculty quality, the Economist ranking looks at five separate qualitative and quantitative dimensions. Students surveyed for the ranking rated Olin faculty 4.8 on a five-point scale for teaching quality, which placed Olin No. 1 for that dimension. And because 100% of Olin’s EMBA faculty holds a PhD, the school placed first in that dimension as well.

Olin placed fourth in the world on the “percentage of alumni who have been promoted or grown their company since graduation,” one of nine dimensions contributing to the “career development” ranking category.

In general, the ranking was a strong showing for WashU Olin’s EMBA program, which improved in eight of nine major ranking categories.

The EMBA program at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business placed No. 1 in the Economist ranking.