Tag: Executive MBA

Carl Casale, EMBA ’92, will be honored on April 30 as the 2021 Dean’s Medalist.

A purpose-driven executive and respected leader in the agriculture and food industries, Casale leads the venture capital practice at Ospraie Ag Science.

His three decades of experience leading globally influential companies across the ag and food sectors provide insight into converging forces that will fundamentally transform global agricultural systems.

“The projections are by 2030 about half the world is going to be middle class or wealthy and the other half is still going to be poor,” he said in an interview.

“What we believe is going to happen is a bifurcation in the food supply. There’ll be those that just want more calories. But increasingly in what we’re seeing in this country is it’s not about how many calories can you produce. It’s how can you produce my calories?”

Consumers are interested in sustainability, transparency and local sources, he said.

“It’s not a fad. It is a shift, we believe. And so we said, ‘OK, if we believe that to be true, what do we want to do?’ And we said, ‘Well, let’s invest in technologies that fulfill those needs that can make farmers more productive but satisfy the desires of consumers in a way that they want met.’”

A farmer himself

A fourth-generation farmer, Casale identifies ag tech investment opportunities that support sustainable food production. In 2018, he helped launch Ospraie Ag Science, which is the venture arm of Ospraie Management. In this role, he leads successful venture campaigns for select companies that help farmers do more with less environmental impact.

In another role, in Casale’s seven years as the CEO and president of CHS Inc., the company returned $3 billion to its owners, invested $9 billion in new capital expenditures and nearly doubled the size of its balance sheet from $8.7 billion in 2010 to $17.3 billion at the end of fiscal 2016. CHS Inc. is a global agribusiness owned by farmers, ranchers and cooperatives across the United States.

Casale said he focused on prudent fiscal management and enhancing management systems at the company. During his tenure, CHS was the only major firm in the industry to manage through the recent economic decline without a planned reduction in workforce, instead relying on strategic cost reductions. Casale reduced working capital by $400 million to help fund a $2.8 billion transformational investment in CF Nitrogen—without taking on an undesirable debt level. The result was an 80-year agreement and a significant new profit source for the co-op’s farmer-owners.

His Monsanto days

At Monsanto Co., Casale rose through the ranks from sales representative to running the company’s largest division at age 36. As executive vice president of strategy and operations, he conceptualized the industry’s first eight-gene agricultural biotech product, “SmartStax,” which became the nation’s No. 1 insect protection trait in corn. As CFO, he reduced several hundred million dollars in operating costs by shifting the reliance on revenue to the strategic use of cash to generate earnings.

From Congress to key industry events, Casale is a sought-after commentator on the future of farming and global ag infrastructure. He remains deeply committed to “creating business models that ensure relevance over time” and continues to shape the ag, food and energy industries in both private and public roles.

Casale and his wife, Kim, operate a 150-acre specialty crop farm in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and his family resides in Minnesota’s Twin Cities.




Olin’s 2020 EMBA program consisted of 87 students, all of whom continued or finished the program as the country shut down due to a global pandemic. Luckily, the EMBA program responded quickly and effectively to the newly-virtual and distanced educational experience. From virtual graduation ceremonies to hybrid classrooms, here’s how Olin EMBA students responded to the pandemic, by the numbers:

1

day to redirect travel and set up EMBA 55 on-campus DC residency after Washington University suspends travel on March 9

2

virtual graduation watch parties, along with celebration kits sent out to grads

2

cohorts—54 and 55 hybrid global residency

4

months—EMBA hybrid classrooms at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Clayton

6

months with virtual-only classes

6

conversations over cocktails with Olin experts, attended by 400 alumni and students

36

SimNet online Excel courses

120

lunches delivered to student homes in March and April

234

boxes packed and delivered to FedEx and DHL containing books and course packs

265

“mobile break station” packages delivered to student homes between May and December

We congratulate the EMBA program for their resilience and efficiency during this challenging time.




Matthew Nyman died in an avalanche in Alaska last week. He was 43.

Nyman was an Army veteran, wounded warrior, government innovator and 2017 Olin EMBA alumnus.

Last Tuesday, he and two other climbers drove to the trailhead at Bear Mountain, near Chugiak, an area about 20 miles northeast of Anchorage. The last time anyone heard from them was around 10:30 a.m. that day, Alaska State Troopers reported.

The climbers were due back at the trailhead around 5 p.m. Tuesday and were reported overdue to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, according to media reports.

On Wednesday morning, February 3, troopers and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group began to search the mountain. Searchers saw that an avalanche had happened, and they found the men’s bodies buried in the slide.

Nyman, who lived in Denver, was an experienced climber, his wife, Kris Crichton, told the Tribune News Service. An Army Ranger turned Delta Force operator, Nyman was severely injured in a 2005 helicopter crash.

“He fought to be healed from the loss of a leg and no use of his other foot, in addition to a traumatic brain injury, to be able to walk again, climb mountains and work for the government to fight drug cartels in Mexico,” Crichton said Thursday. The couple met at Olin while Nyman and Crichton were both in the EMBA program, and they married in September 2020. (See his obituary.)

Nyman had considered business school for years. The helicopter crash helped accelerate his thinking, according to a 2019 Olin Blog post. During a combat operation, he was a passenger in a helicopter landing atop a building in Iraq. The crash left him with severe injuries to his head, back, lungs, femur and a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.

After fighting his way back to health and building a stellar career developing and launching threat-assessment centers in the military and public sector, he pivoted to the private sector.

Nyman was a dedicated father to his two sons and his stepson, Crichton said. He most recently was the Cyber Fusion Center director for American Family Insurance.

He also was featured in the 2012 documentary “High Ground,” which followed 11 veterans as they climbed the Himalayan Mount Lobuche.

Nyman served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

A Matt Nyman Memorial Fund has been set up on GoFundMe to help support his widow and children.




Keith Choy, EMBA-Shanghai

In a Q&A with McKinsey & Company published last month, Keith Choy describes how his GlaxoSmithKline’s Asia–Pacific Consumer Healthcare group is relying on the reality of the pandemic and the company’s values to speed up its response to customers and demonstrate its agility.

Choy, EMBA-Shanghai ’07, is head of the GSK unit, overseeing 6,000 employees whom, the article says, he has asked “to consider the pandemic a call to action, a chance to double down on existing digitalization initiatives and strengthen end-to-end supply chains to even better respond to emerging consumption trends across the 23 Asia–Pacific markets the company serves.”

Here are a few highlights from the October conversation Choy had with McKinsey on how “GSK is responding to COVID-19, how the company is guided by its values and what global companies can do to succeed in Asia during COVID-19 and beyond.”

On tech and digitalization

“Even before the pandemic, people were getting more digitalized and using technology in ways we couldn’t imagine before. We need to accelerate our use of digital to engage with consumers, customers, and healthcare professionals.”

On company values

“During the pandemic, and even Chinese New Year, our manufacturing site employees still went back to work; our supply chain continued to deliver products to customers. We demonstrated a deep commitment to help patients even as we worked to keep our employees safe and healthy.”

On speeding customer response

“Our decision tree is based on empowerment of our people—the trust of the leadership in the people on the ground. We give them whatever support and resources we can. In that sense, decision making is on the local level.”

On leadership qualities

“The first quality I look for is how they prioritize; I want to see how they consider opportunities and challenges and if they can quickly identify priorities. The second is how they shoulder their leadership responsibilities and accountabilities, and how well they connect with people even under remote conditions.”

Read the full interview on McKinsey & Company’s website.




Frans VanOudenallen, Olin’s director of executive career development, is retiring to spend more time with his 15 grandchildren and to travel. His last day is January 22.

VanOudenallen, 74, has worked for Olin for more than 12 years, sharing his wisdom, time and passion with Executive MBA students and alumni. He built Olin’s first career development program for EMBA students and managed a successful TEAM EMBA community, which now has 1,149 members who are at the ready to assist other EMBAs in their careers.

In all, VanOudenallen has coached more than 1,000 executives, including in Mumbai and Shanghai.

Frans VanOudenallen

“The effective career coach cares,” he said in a recent interview on Zoom. “I would rather have as a coach someone who has average skills and cares about the person than someone who has terrific skills but doesn’t really care and blows you off, changes appointments, etc. And that’s what really is the essence of coaching. We should have that feeling of doing whatever we can to assist them in their career.”

VanOudenallen’s own coaching skills are top-notch, according to pages upon pages of letters from numerous EMBAs.

“Frans has impacted so many people’s lives, and many are grateful for his advice and unwavering commitment to their career success,” said Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of Olin’s Weston Career Center.

‘Able to draw out the best in us’

Take Don Halpin, EMBA 46, a retired US Air Force colonel and pilot. “You know how you meet people in your life who are remarkably humble but have incredible impact?” he asked. “Frans is one of those.”

Halpin met VanOudenallen in 2014 when Halpin enrolled at Olin. In 2018, Halpin was transitioning from healthcare systems engineering and product innovation in Peoria, Illinois, to the unknown in St. Louis. “Frans was there, ready to help.”

VanOudenallen “was always able to draw out the best in us and help us see things that we didn’t see naturally,”  Halpin said. Essentially, VanOudenallen helped Halpin translate his military background into the language of other industries.

“He helped us draw out the gold that we didn’t know was there,” Halpin said. “He could take people like me, with a military background. He took doctors. He took people from the corporate world. It didn’t matter the background. He was able to draw out the essence of that person’s personal brand, their passion, what they’re really good at, and help them craft their message as these people are going into a new environment.”

Halpin himself became the chief operations officer of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, with 1,400 employees, a $100 million budget and 100,000 people served annually in the St. Louis region. “It was the perfect fit of my skills and passion,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened without Frans.”

He ‘truly cared about their success’

VanOudenallen, who founded the St. Louis-based nonprofit executive career coaching service Executive Connections, was hired in 2009 to work full time on helping Olin EMBA students find jobs.

Every day, VanOudenallen brought his personal, custom approach to supporting EMBAs in the program and as alumni in enhancing their careers, said Mary Houlihan, Olin executive career coach. “He got to know literally hundreds, if not thousands, of EMBAs both personally and professionally and truly cared about their success.”

Through one-on-one meetings and support groups for students and alumni, VanOudenallen honed in on some of the challenges particular to EMBA job-seekers.

“Executive MBAs have significant experience to draw on,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2010. “Most of the time it’s an asset. But at other times, it can be a perceived drawback because their experience often comes from one silo, industry or discipline.”

They may feel that their experience in one area is not transferable to other companies or industries, he said. “But that is absolutely not true. … These experienced folks have to learn that what they know is transferable to many companies and experiences. That’s where I focus and get them to talk about how they can be successful.”

In addition to his role at Olin, VanOudenallen donated his time as a mentor with Olin’s Hatchery, which is for entrepreneurship students. On top of that, he has a private practice in which he coaches executives to optimize their performance within their organization or to transition to a new opportunity.

Advice: Be ‘a positive giver’

Those who turned to VanOudenallen for career coaching will remember him as a giver. It’s a philosophy he embraces while encouraging others to do the same.

“I talk a lot about collaboration, about being a positive giver and giving as opposed to being a taker ,” he says. In fact, the first book he recommends to EMBAs is “The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.” In it, a go-getter named Joe discovers that changing his focus from getting to giving leads to unexpected returns.

Oh, one more piece of advice before VanOudenallen packs his bags. It’s advice he offers to EMBAS —and to his grandchildren: “Find what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Pictured at top: Frans VanOudenallen and his wife, Jean, with six of their 15 grandchildren.