Tag: Executive MBA



The work of building and improving the WashU business school has been rewarded with an uptick in most of our rankings throughout the 2018 ranking season, with rare exception.

Several of the rankings saw substantial increases, including the 18-place jump in the Financial Times‘ global MBA ranking and the nine-place increase in the FT‘s business schools of the Americas ranking. We also saw a substantial increase in The Economists‘ global MBA ranking.

In a few rankings, we saw declines—a clear indication that the work goes on, or that we must keep vigilant in order to stay competitive with peer schools. The Poets & Quants undergraduate ranking, for example, included participation by more competitive schools than we saw in the ranking’s first outing two years ago.

Global Rankings

Ranking 2017 2018 (Change)
Economist
Which MBA?
43 37 (+6)
Financial Times
Global MBA
68 50 (+18)
Financial Times
Top MBA for Women
N/A 4 (-)
Financial Times
Executive MBA Shanghai
7 6 (+1)

US Rankings

Ranking 2017 2018 (Change)
Bloomberg Businessweek
Domestic MBA
36 32 (+4)
Bloomberg Businessweek
Global MBA
N/A 37 (-)
Financial Times US
MBA-US
28 23 (+5)
Financial Times Americas
All Programs
17 8 (+9)
Poets & Quants
BSBA
2 3 (-1)
Princeton Review
Entrepreneurship-Undergraduate
7 7 (-)
Princeton Review
Entrepreneurship-Graduate
22 18 (+4)
TFE Times
Master of Science in Finance
N/A 4 (-)
US News & World Report
MBA
21 23 (-2)

Copy of Robert S. Brookings portrait that hangs in the lobby of the Alumni House.

The Robert S. Brookings portrait hangs
in the lobby of the Alumni House.

For more than a century, the histories of WashU business education and the Brookings Institution in Washington DC have been intertwined. Robert S. Brookings, the St. Louis businessman, philanthropist, and WashU board president who built the Danforth campus and elevated the university to the world stage, was also passionate about the intersection of business and government policy education.

That passion, in fact, led to the establishment in 1916 of the precursor to today’s Brookings Institution, which was for a time a part of Washington University.

President John F. Kennedy recognized the need to bridge policy and business when, in 1962, he greeted Brookings attendees to the White House: “My experience has been that those businessmen who have worked in Washington, who have held positions of responsibility, who know something about the public responsibilities of those who hold executive office, are a good deal more understanding and a good deal more successful in their business work later on.”

Today, we begin the process of taking the Brookings-WashU partnership to another level. Construction begins this month to expand Olin’s space at Brookings from 2,000 to 12,000 square feet—a significant undertaking with implications for what we can offer. The new space bears the iconic street address of 1776 Massachusetts Avenue NW, overlooking the main Brookings building across the street.

Space is tough to come by in Washington and a larger footprint means we can serve more students who are waitlisted for our master of science in leadership, our certificate programmes in public leadership and policy strategy, and our executive education courses.

In fact, if this space had been available last year, every waitlisted student would have been able to participate in a Brookings programme, according to Ian Dubin, assistant dean and director for Brookings Executive Education. And while that will help us expand our offerings to DC-based students, it will also bring us closer to another goal of mine: making sure every Olin student has a Brookings experience.

“This space is going to allow us to really grow what is the real advantage we have, which is this opportunity for immersion,” Ian said recently. “The global MBA program will soon begin, Olin’s Mumbai students will be coming, BSBA students will be coming.”

In addition to the construction work, I’ve also recently elevated the role that Lamar Pierce, Olin professor of organization and strategy, plays at Brookings. He now adds Associate Dean for the Brookings-WashU partnership.

“We believe this new space better reflects the important and lasting partnership between Brookings and Washington University,” Lamar said recently. “The new classrooms, which look out over Brookings and Dupont Circle, will provide state of the art instructional spaces for both our executive education and for the many Olin programs with Washington residencies.”

Optimistically, we expect to complete the expansion around late April or early May, but definitely in time for the arrival of more than 115 full-time MBA students in July, when they begin their round-the-world global immersion in Olin’s revamped two-year programme.

As we approach Robert S. Brookings’ 169th birthday on January 22, it’s fitting that we take note of this important milestone in the partnership between Olin and his namesake institution, the world’s premier think tank in arguably the world’s most important global capital.




Jason Wilson

The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is the first of those vignettes.

Chronicle Coffee opened in north St. Louis City in 2013, sleek with sea-foam walls and civil rights-era photos, adorned with hefty schoolhouse chairs and overstuffed leather sofas.

Jason Wilson, EMBA ’08, spun off the new java joint from his thriving Northwest Coffee Roasting Company, which had stores in affluent neighborhoods in Clayton, Missouri, and St. Louis’ Central West End.

But the corner of Blumeyer and Page avenues in north St. Louis was not an affluent area. It was a community in need of a little TLC, a location where Wilson saw opportunity—but perhaps not the kind of opportunity entrepreneurs typically seek out.

“We wanted to fill this void of a food desert and offer quality products on the north side of St. Louis,” Wilson said. “But the data suggested I should not do that.”

The median income in the area was lower than Wilson was used to serving. Population density was lacking. Foot traffic on the street was sparse. “I had to look at other data points that were more civic minded,” he said. “What else is important?”

He looked at the value of creating a community center in a building that served clients of subsidized housing. He explored the ways Wi-Fi internet would help customers, how community programming might build traffic, how a gathering spot for conversation would enliven the neighborhood.

For a while, Chronicle Coffee looked like it might work. “The folks that buy coffee love the fact that I’m in north St. Louis,” Wilson told a local food magazine at the time. “I’ve also been received pretty well by the immediate community.”

Then, in August 2014, Michael Brown was shot in Ferguson, Missouri. Sales nosedived. Before the year was out, the store failed.

“I took a major hit. In business, revenue minus expenses equals profit. That’s the rule,” Wilson said. “But I wanted to help people out. Am I wrong?”

Leadership decisions, for good

Wilson’s story is emblematic of a growing philosophy of leadership baked into the strategic plan Olin Dean Mark Taylor has rolled out to the business school. Since his arrival at Washington University in December 2016, he has spoken often about creating an academy of leaders who are prepared to make values-based, data- driven decisions. Yes, business is business. ROI is important. But true business leaders understand that the bottom line is not the only gauge of success. Staying true to individual, corporate, and societal values must figure into the equation.

“We want our people to think more broadly about their role,” said Stuart Bunderson, co-director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center and the George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance.

“How can our leaders be maximally responsive to all their stakeholders?” he said. “There is not a small set of values that is important. What’s more important than making a buck? Figure that out and take action based on those values.”

In the end, Wilson’s store failed, but a positive result emerged: His coffee is served at Grounds for Change, the coffee shop in the Brown School of Social Work’s newest building, Hillman Hall. Originally attracted by Wilson’s mission, they were sold on the high-quality coffee and beans. “It’s because I went on the north side and tried to do that.”




Jerry Steiner, EMBA

A St. Louis-based ag tech startup led by a WashU Olin alum has closed another round of financing as it moves toward the commercial launch of a new cash crop in 2021.

Jerry Steiner, EMBA ’92, is CEO of CoverCress, a post he’s held since January 2015, two years after the company was founded as Arvegenix. Steiner has 15 years’ experience previously with Monsanto.

CoverCress closed its latest $2 million round of funding November 14. Two prominent organizations co-led the funding round, Bayer Growth Ventures, the venture capital arm of Bayer and formerly Monsanto Growth Ventures; and BioGenerator, the investment arm of local nonprofit BioSTL. The round brings the company’s total funding to nearly $8 million, according to the St. Louis Business Journal (subscription required).

The company at the same time rebranded to CoverCress, reflecting its focus on developing a cash crop based on the native plant pennycress. According to the firm’s news release, “CoverCress is a new winter oilseed cash crop designed to provide winter and early spring soil cover between corn harvest and soybean planting, while producing an oilseed crop. CoverCress oil and protein meal are similar to that of canola.”

“Many farmers have told us that they want to do more to protect soil and water as well as find new sources of income from their land,” Steiner said in the release. “We are responding with CoverCress, a unique product to deliver both benefits to farmers.”




In the quiet of the holidays, when activity has slowed and we have a moment for reflection, we like to take a look back at the stories on the Olin Blog that had the most traffic during the year. It’s a nice way to see what resonated with readers who came across our stories directly from the blog, through our email newsletters, or on social media.

Highlights ranged from the passing of some beloved individuals in the Olin family to a highly favorable global ranking to some attention-grabbing research by Olin faculty. Here’s the Top 10 list for 2018.

10. Distinguished alumni: Leaders, benefactors, civic activists

Olin’s four distinguished alumni grabbed the No. 10 spot in the countdown for the most-read blog posts in 2018. Alumni recognized this year graduated as far back as 1984 and as recently as 2008, across sectors such as banking, hedge-fund management, entrepreneurship, and business strategy.

9. We’re going big and bold with the new MBA

Dean Mark Taylor launched a monthly blog column called Desk of the Dean in 2018. In this edition, he grabbed national attention with the news that WashU Olin would make a daring move into a reimagined, globally immersive full-time MBA experience. Two weeks after 2019’s new MBA students arrive in late June, all of them will depart for an around-the-world immersion in global business. The summer semester continues with a week at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Then two weeks in Barcelona. Then 17 days in Shanghai.

8. Olin study: Women better survive heart attacks with female docs

New faculty member Seth Carnahan and his research colleagues sent a quake across healthcare media—and general interest news outlets as well—with a study indicating that female heart attack patients have significantly higher survival rates when women doctors treat them in the ER. In fact, in the researchers’ sample, 1,500 fewer women would have died—women who were treated by male doctors—if their survival rate was the same as women treated by female physicians. Media around the globe picked up the story.

7. Alum’s donation launches ‘business of the arts’ minor

In the midst of the mirth and merrymaking at Olin’s second Shakespeare event, Dean Mark Taylor took a moment to recognize distinguished alumnus Rich Ritholtz, BSBA ’84, and his wife Linda, for their $1 million donation that will launch a new business minor, open to any WashU student, at Olin Business School. “Creating a minor in the business of the arts at this time in our history would send a powerful message that Olin is on the move, preparing our students to think critically and act boldly to meet the challenges of 21st century business,” Taylor said.

6. Funny side, hard edge: Your boss’s behavior matters

Olin postdoc Zhenyu Liao was part of a research team that examined the benefits of a sense of humor among corporate leaders and concluded that a jokester in the big chair can be a mixed blessing.

5. Jon Flaxman: HP executive, Olin benefactor

The surprise passing of HP Inc.’s COO in March stunned the Olin community. It had come just months after he had welcomed a group of WashU students touring Silicon Valley on a career trek to tech-related companies. The National Council member had given richly to Olin — and not just financially. Students and faculty spokes of his mentorship. Since his death, HP established an endowed scholarship in the name of Jon and his widow Lauri. The $1 million gift increased 10 percent with additional donations from family and HP colleagues.

4. New faculty: Olin’s newest instructors and researchers

Not surprisingly, the roll-call of new faculty pierced the Top 10 for the second year in a row as Olin brought in a bumper crop of new instructors in the past 12 months.

3. Koch Family endows Family Business Center, 2 professorships

Two brothers, two spouses, and five WashU degrees between them. St. Louis’s Koch brothers, Paul and Roger, along with their wives, Elke and Fran, donated $12 million to Washington University — $9 million of which toward a research center dedicated to family businesses and a chaired professorship in family business. “There’s a lack of perception about how many family businesses there are and what role they play,” Paul Koch said, following the announcement. “There’s also a lack of perception about the complexities of family businesses.”

2. FT: Olin 4th globally among MBA programs for women

A new ranking from the Financial Times lauded schools for their commitment to programs that serve women, placing WashU Olin behind programs at Stanford and UC Berkeley and just ahead of Harvard’s.

1. Nicholas Dopuch, 88: Transformational figure for Olin, accounting research

A stalwart figure among the Olin faculty for many years, Professor Dopuch’s passing affected innumerable students, alumni, administrators, and current faculty. It’s worth noting the numerous comments posted in tribute on this blog post, from all over the world, some posted as recently as a few weeks ago.

What will make headlines from Olin in 2019? Don’t wait to find out: Follow us in real time on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and LinkedIn (and of course, submit to the Olin Blog). See you next year!