Tag: Executive MBA



During unprecedented times, the WashU Olin community is coming together as the community we truly are. Though students, faculty and staff span across the city, the country and even the world, setting up virtual study spaces everywhere from New York to India, we’re working to maintain that sense of community, collaboration and friendship that defines the WashU Olin experience.

As virtual classes started this Monday, March 23, students and faculty took the time to document their classroom “views” for the Olin blog.

Doug Villhard, professor of entrepreneurship, asked students to share what their “study spaces” look like.

Top row, left to right: Kaila Pederson (MBA ’21) confronts the challenge of a small space and embraces innovation to create a desk; Marguerite Whitelaw (MBA ’21).


Bottom row, left to right: Lexi Lessaris (MBA ’21) and her co-worker Lola; Ellen Kenzora (MBA ’21).

Students and faculty also shared moments from their virtual classroom spaces and team meetings on Zoom.

Left column, top to bottom: Tom Fields’ Strategic Cost Analysis class, submitted by Nitish Yadav (MBA ’21); EMBA 54’s first virtual class, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, taught by Nick Argyres; Barton Hamilton’s Compensation, Incentives and Organizing, submitted by Nidhi Kandari (MBA ’21).


Right column: Peter Boumgarden, professor of practice, strategy and organizations, teaches a group of undergraduates.

Teams and student groups won’t let distance stop them from getting great things done.

CEL practicum team works on a project for Midwest Bank Center.

From left to right, top to bottom: Hannah Levin, Lael Bialek, Bruno Moreira Yamamura, Lin Xie, Frankie Hong, Chris Colon (not pictured).

The Graduate Business Student Association’s incoming leadership team holds their first meeting.

Top row: Ellen Kenzora, Kendra Kelly, Shivani Jain

Middle row: Raphael Kodjoe, Nidhi Kandari, Dolapo Ojutiku

Bottom row: Gina Wang

Not pictured:  Gaurav Gupta

And staff and faculty have shared their new personal workspaces.

From left to right
Row 1: Brooke Van Groningen (Assistant Brand Manager, Marketing & Communications), Ashley Macrander (Assistant Dean & Director of Student Affairs),

Row 2: Todd Milbourn (Vice Dean of Faculty & Research); Glenn MacDonald (Professor of Economics & Strategy), Allison Dietz (WCC Employer Relations Lead),

Row 3: Dorothy Kittner (WCC Associate Director & Dean of Business Relations) Paige LaRose (Director of Undergraduate Programs), Amy VanEssendelft (CEL Senior Program Manager),

Row 4: Heather Cameron (Professor of Practice, in Berlin), Molly Cruitt (Social Media Strategist, Marketing & Communications), Jodi Heen (Faculty Support).

Though we are far apart now, WashU Olin remains together as a community. We can’t wait for our students, faculty and staff to be on one campus once again. Until then, a virtual cheers and best wishes for a great semester.




A mother-daughter team—including a WashU Olin alumna—took honors in both the USA International Mrs. Asia and Miss Asia Pageant Grand Finale.

A mother-daughter team—including a WashU Olin alumna—took honors in both the USA International Mrs. Asia and Miss Asia Pageant Grand Finale in New York on December 21. Michelle Wu, EMBA ’12, and her daughter, Tiffany Yao, a May 2019 graduate of the Sam Fox School as a communication design major, took the honors in the two contests. Wu submitted the following information about the achievement.

Tiffany followed her mother’s footsteps into WashU in 2015 after graduating from John Burroughs School.

Mother and daughter both won the regional champion titles and entered the USA International Mrs. Asia and Miss Asia Pageants 2019 Grand Finale competition in New York in December right before Christmas.

“People claim that’s a rare case for both mother and daughter to join and win international beauty competitions at the same time—and especially that we both from WashU.

Michelle won the Global Grand Champion title of all age groups, as well as the Most Intelligent Award, the Perfect Figure Award, and the Best Talent Award—and took the 50-60 age group champion.

Tiffany won Global First Runner Up, as well as the Most Elegant & Charming Award, the Best Talent Award and the Miss Friendly and Popular Award.




Brad Li, CEO of ZTE USA

As a successful Chinese expat based in Kansas City, Brad Li had already done great things. He was a general manager who opened one of the first US offices for the China-based company he worked for, telecom and networking giant ZTE Corporation. He’d recruited and built a team. With his wife, he’d even established a family.

Brad Li
Brad Li

So when a big opportunity came Li’s way, it wasn’t a surprise. The only question: Was it the right big opportunity? This is the story of how Brad Li, EMBA ’17, made the decision—and the help he got from Olin after graduating.

After making his mark with ZTE in the United States, Li decided to return to school in 2015 to get his executive MBA at WashU Olin when his US-born boys were about 6 and 3 years old. After receiving his degree in 2017, he was presented with an exciting opportunity with the company that would require relocating his family and taking on a different role.

“It would be a totally different career path,” Li recalled. “That would mean I would stop my business development here and build a different career path.”

As part of his decision process, Li decided to utilize the expertise and best practices of the Weston Career Center to carefully think through the impact on his future. He contacted Frans VanOudenAllen, director of executive career development with the Weston Career Center and Olin’s EMBA program, and together they walked through a process developed to help executives make decisions based on factors such as future growth, personal development, and family impacts.

“We put everything down on paper,” Li said. “There were many uncertainties. But I was well-prepared to think through my options and future impacts from different angles and perspectives.”

Ultimately, a few considerations weighed heavily: The impact on the network he’d built in the United States, the separation from the team he had developed in Kansas City, and the significant cultural and lifestyle change for his family—particularly for his young boys, who had lived in Kansas City their entire lives.

Beyond all of the data and factors, an important aspect of decision-making for executives is listening to one’s own intuition, and Li felt that perhaps now was not the right time to make a big change.

And so after discussing all of these factors with VanOudenAllen, Li decided to not pursue the new opportunity. As fate would have it, within a few months ZTE named him CEO of its North American operations, overseeing the United States and Canada. He’s since moved to ZTE USA’s Dallas headquarters.

He remains grateful for VanOudenAllen’s coaching. “With VanOudenAllen’s help, I was able to take a holistic approach and utilize the best practices designed by the Weston Career Center,” Li said. “Effective decision-making requires both a qualitative and quantitative approach, and I would recommend the services of Olin’s EMBA program to any executives.”


In the first week of October, Anne Petersen was in the passenger seat driving through upstate New York when she noticed her email was starting to blow up.

The Weston Career Center coach was on vacation with her husband when inquiries started to roll in from an email the career center had just sent to thousands of WashU Olin alumni. “You’ll always be able to partner with the Weston Career Center for lifetime career support,” the email said, inviting alumni to seek support whenever they needed it.

Seek they did. More than 50 Olin alumni reached out within the week that the email blast and video went out. Some were recent alumni, out only a year or two. Some had left as long ago as the 1960s.

“The emails started coming and the phone started ringing immediately. It was more than we anticipated,” Petersen said. “I don’t think alums were aware of our coaching services and the breadth of resources available. They also didn’t realize that we work with alums across the country via phone or Skype, as well as in person in St. Louis.”

Existing services—and new ones

The email campaign and related video were designed to remind Olin alumni of the career coaching resources available to them long after they walked away with their diploma. Coaching, career assessment, personal branding, resume and LinkedIn profile building, interview preparation, networking and negotiation—all services alumni can continue to get from the Weston Career Center.

That day in October, Petersen started responding to alumni seeking ideas about making a career pivot or changing geographies. She set up later appointments with some and worked with Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center, who fielded inquiries and connected alums with experienced coaches on the WCC team—including Frans Van Oudenallen, Mary Houlihan and Kathie McCloskey.

“They’ve run the gamut from young alums, undergrads, MBAs, specialized masters, senior citizens, mothers that were out of the workforce,” Petersen said. “It’s been a great process. We have had the opportunity to work with a lot of fascinating alums.”

Once Olin, Always Olin

A number of them have started by taking advantage of the WCC’s career leader assessment, a survey instrument that normally costs $75—but is available to alumni free of charge.

“It gives alums insight regarding their interests, motivations, skills, potential career directions and company culture matches,” Petersen said.Petersen said. The response to the email has been gratifying for the WCC team, who had sensed the services were not well-known enough or that alumni from outside St. Louis might be reticent to take advantage of them.

“They very much are commenting about the idea of ‘Once Olin, Always Olin’— the idea that it’s for me at any stage of your career,” Petersen said. “They felt like, ‘This does pertain to me—no matter where I am.'”

Looking for career help as an Olin alum? Contact Anne Petersen for career coaching resources (annepetersen@wustl.edu or 314-935-8951), or Jen Whitten (jwhitten@wustl.edu or 314-935-8970) to discuss WCC’s resources or any questions you might have. For remote coaching, the WCC is prepared to connect via Skype, phone or in person.




The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni (and Dean Taylor) 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 one of those vignettes.

In 2007 and 2008, as world markets tumbled into history’s worst global financial crisis, Mark Taylor was managing the European arm of a $10 billion global hedge fund—and 95 percent of his clients were pension funds. The crisis demanded staff reductions in his team, and with returns down, remaining employees took massive hits to their incentive-based compensation.

“How do you motivate a staff when you’re in the middle of a financial crisis?” Taylor asked. Part of the answer: Leverage as much data as possible to analyze long- term fundamentals—recognizing that the crisis had rendered much conventional analysis unworkable. The goal: Stem losses and preserve as much wealth as possible.

But another part of the answer meant Taylor had to reinforce for his team the reasons they came to work every day.

“This was other people’s money. If we walked away, people’s pension funds could disappear,” he said. When he met with pension fund trustees, he asked them to invite some of the retirees themselves, placing them across the table from his own junior and senior staff members.

His team responded positively to the motivation. And in the darkest moment, Taylor said, his fund was down about 10 percent when world markets were down 40 percent. The fund rebounded sharply the next year.