Tag: Executive MBA



Panos Kouvelis

What are the components of your company’s supply chain? They might include inventory, transportation, access to labor, water, power, and other utilities. How resilient is your supply chain in a crisis? How much inventory do you have on hand and how quickly can you replenish it? Where is your labor staff, how soon can it mobilize, and how did the crisis affect them? Do you have back-up sources of electricity and water?

These and similar issues form the core of the figurative “Waffle House index,” taught to students by an Olin Business School professor and named years ago by a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2011.

The index refers to a clue into the level of devastation wrought by a natural disaster—disasters like Hurricane Florence, which made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, NC, early Friday morning. And Panos Kouvelis, director of Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, says it makes sense.

“It’s very smart. This is a way to evaluate the situation with limited data,” Kouvelis said. “In times like this, demand goes up and supply goes down at the same time. But companies like Waffle House have good playbooks. They pre-position supplies, they make sure they know how to staff their stores. They know what inventory they have and what they don’t have. Their playbook makes sense. That’s the resilience that we talk about in supply chain management.”

First dubbed the “Waffle House Index” by former FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate after a devastating western Missouri tornado, the notion isn’t actually an index at all. There’s no “big board” available for public view, no place to gauge the status of the Waffle House chain.

But Kouvelis said that a quick look at Waffle Houses in the post-hurricane landscape—the aftermath the Carolinas face late this weekend or early next week—can provide a leading indicator of how badly the storm harmed the commercial infrastructure. Are the Waffle Houses open, serving full menus, and staffed? Other businesses are likely not far behind. Are the Waffle Houses staffed with skeleton crews and serving partial menus? The level of devastation is higher and recovery may take a few more days.

If the Waffle House is closed…well, buckle up. We’re probably in for a longer recovery period.

And it’s not just about Waffle House, which is heavily concentrated in the southeast, said Kouvelis, Olin’s Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management.

“Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart tend to be well prepared for these disasters because they have seen it many times in the past,” said Kouvelis, who teaches “supply chain risk management” using cases like Waffle House and similarly prepared companies. “It’s a smart part of their brand image: When you need us, we are there.”

Pictured above: A Waffle House in the Carolinas in 2013, via Flickr user “rpavich” used under Creative Commons license for commercial use.




Thirteen new faculty members have joined Olin in the past year in accounting, finance, operations, strategy, and marketing.

Tenure-track faculty

SETH CARNAHAN, Associate professor of strategy
PhD: Strategy, 2013, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Sanford R. Robertson Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan
Research Interests: Firm strategy, entrepreneurship, and human capital; how competition for human capital affects firm performance; why individuals create startup firms

XIANG HUI, Assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2016, Ohio State University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Design of digital platforms and economics of digitization, how consumers’ experience with service providers on such platforms could be enhanced through platform policies and strategies that improve information or other aspects

MARYJANE RABIER, Assistant professor of accounting
PhD: Accounting, 2014, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of accounting, McGill University
Research Interests: Recent research, “Value is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Relative Valuation Roles of Earnings and Book Value in Merger Pricing,” was published in the Accounting Review, Vol. 93, No. 1, 2018

Visiting professors

ABER ELSALEIBY, Visiting assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management
PhD: Manufacturing and technology management, 2015, University of Toledo
Prior to Olin: Lecturer of operations management, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Manufacturing and service operations management, healthcare operations management/analytics, supply chain network design

*ILIAS FILIPPOU, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2015, The University of Warwick
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of financial economics, Warwick Business School
Research Interests: Asset pricing, international finance, macro-finance

MENG LIU, Visiting assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2015, Clemson University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Auctions and mechanism design, specifically in the contexts of government procurement contracts; the emerging sharing economy of the digital era; The impact of Uber on the traditional taxi industry

Yaron Leitner, Visiting professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2001, Northwestern University
Prior to Olin: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Research Interests: Banking and financial institutions, information economics

ALESSIO SARETTO, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhDs: Finance, 2006, University of California, Los Angeles; mathematical finance, 2002, University of Brescia
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of finance and managerial economics, University of Texas at Dallas
Research Interests: Empirical asset pricing, capital structure, credit risk, and structured finance. Saretto has been published in Management Science, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Fixed Income, and the Journal of Financial Markets

Professors of practice

PETER BOUMGARDEN, Professor of practice, organizational behavior
PhD: Organizational behavior/strategy, 2010, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: Associate professor of management, Hope College
Research Interests: Researches, consults and facilitates executive education in the private and nonprofit sectors on topics of innovation, corporate strategy, marketing strategy and leadership development. Clients include Herman Miller, Edward Jones, Charles Schwab, Oracle and others

JEREMY DEGENHART, Professor of practice, finance
BSBA: 2000, Washington University in St. Louis.
Prior to Olin: Adjunct professor of finance, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Global Impact Investing Network, Advantage Capital, Solar Energy Industries Association

TIMOTHY SOLBERG, Professor of practice, finance
MBA: 1982, University of Chicago
Prior to Olin: Olin faculty advisor and lecturer, Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum
Research Interests: Economic development, health economics, international economics, banking and financial institutions, corporate governance

MICHAEL WALL, Professor of practice, marketing
BA: 2001, Indiana University
Prior to Olin: Adjunct lecturer, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Innovation, digital marketing, leadership

Research scholar

DAVID SOVICH, postdoc for finance
PhD: Finance, 2018, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: PhD intern, Equifax Inc.
Research Interests: Empirical household finance, real effects of financial markets

*Not pictured. Pictured above, from left, first row: Yaron Leitner, MaryJane Rabier, Alessio Saretto, Timothy Solberg, Seth Carnahan. Second row: Peter Boumgarden, Meng Liu, David Sovich, Aber Elsaleiby. Third row: Xiang Hui, Jeremy Degenhart, Michael Wall.




More than 2,000 years ago, the Roman poet Virgil famously said, “Fortune favours the bold.” In today’s vernacular, he would have said, “Go big or go home.” At Olin, we’re going big. And we’re going bold.

We’re doing it by launching a sweeping renovation of the full-time WashU Olin MBA. Students who arrive in mid-2019 will be the first to embark on what is arguably the most global MBA programme anywhere in the world.

Two weeks after they arrive for orientation and introductory classwork in late June—yes, that early—every first-year MBA student will depart for an around-the-world immersion in global business. And I’m not speaking metaphorically. The summer semester continues with a week at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. Then two weeks in Barcelona. Then 17 days in Shanghai.

Students will dive deeply into the fundamental principles of business management in the context of each country’s local economy. Morning classes move to afternoon projects as students roll up their sleeves and apply their knowledge, doing research and analyzing real-world business problems with local executives. This isn’t academic tourism. It’s not a St. Louis class transferred to Spain or China. It’s serious work gaining cultural intelligence about global business and leadership issues.

When students return to St. Louis, they’ll be equipped to continue their core classes in strategy, economics, accounting, marketing, finance, and operations—but with global context and the perspective of several economic systems. Plus, they’ll have forged deep bonds with their classmates, a foundation to support, grow and advance one another throughout their Olin careers.

Additionally, students can accelerate their programme under our new model, moving more quickly to the job market, or pair their MBA with a specialized master’s degree.

Why embark on such a sweeping change to Olin’s flagship program? The answer, quite simply, is that we must practise what we preach. The world is shrinking. Leadership challenges are expanding. As we urge students to do, we must anticipate what the market will demand in the future—then think big and act boldly to confront the challenge. Tinkering around the margins won’t do.

We paired that principle with data. We informed our work with the help of Boston Consulting Group, which researched the needs of students and companies in the future. They interviewed current students, prospective students, faculty, corporate recruiters, and more, generating data about the requirements of a redesigned MBA programme.

In some ways, we’ve been building to this for a while. Recent MBA classes have had expanding global opportunities through the Center for Experiential Learning and the Brookings MBA capstone experience. This spring, we plan to pilot some of the global components of the redesigned curriculum, though details are yet to be ironed out.

On the Olin website now, there’s more detail available about our MBA renovation—designed with BCG, taught by world class experts on three continents, one truly global MBA. It is a renovation, I firmly believe, that will be favoured by fortune—for Olin and our students.




In one of Olin Business School’s newest magazine ads, white text pops from a field of rich red in type that evokes a sense of strength and wonder. Just a few words, strategically aligned on the page, draw the reader into a story of unknown origin—and clear gravity.

“When the cost of goods comes at a cost … we pause.”

Within that pause, Olin invites readers to consider the consequences of the decisions they’ll make and the preparation WashU offers for a business world demanding principled, evidence-based leadership.

Within that pause lies the mission of Olin Business School, its promise to students and the marketplace, and the pillars that underpin our strategic plan.

And from within that pause comes the bold voice of Olin Business School’s new brand identity, articulating what we are, what we stand for, and how our strategic plan sets us apart among the world’s top schools.

“We’re making a bold claim on what’s always been in our DNA: That we develop business leaders who create change, for good,” said Dean Mark Taylor, architect of Olin’s strategic plan. “It’s important for all of us to take ownership of this idea so we can clearly articulate our point of view on business education, attract the right kind of talent, and be a distinctive voice in the marketplace, as drivers of global change.”

See the video below to get a better understanding about how Olin will position itself with its brand messaging.

Launching the new Olin brand

Marketing & Communications prepares for the brand launch event.

Marketing & Communications prepares
for the brand launch event.

The formal announcement of Olin’s new brand strategy came today in a schoolwide event drawing together faculty and staff. With video presentations, digital signs, a champagne toast, and speeches from the dean and a faculty leader, participants heard how the business school will use its brand messaging to talk about the elements of our strategic plan, our vision, our mission, our values, and our strategic priorities.

Dean Taylor stressed the importance of our strategic pillars — particularly the idea that Olin develops values-based, data-driven decision-makers.

“The truth behind those words isn’t new at all. We’ve taken a deep dive into how we want to think and talk about ourselves,” he said, adding to the crowd of faculty and staff assembled for the event “it’s vital that we all take ownership of our brand.”

The crowd applauded after watching the brand identity video (see above).

Stuart Bunderson, co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center and Olin’s George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance, reinforced the message: “We want every Olin student to say first, what do the data say and second, what values are at play here” when they are making business-oriented decisions.

After the speeches and a champagne toast, Olin employees dispersed to pick up swag bags, enjoy street food from a group of food trucks on Snow Way, romp at a selfie station, and take headshots that may be used in Olin branding campaigns down the road.

More details about the branding

The messaging comes together in a simple positioning statement that boldly declares who we are and how we’re different from other top business schools: “As a premier educator of business professionals, Olin Business School champions better decision-making by preparing and coaching a new academy of leaders who will change the world, for good.”

We do this through our pillars of excellence, the elements that drive our approach to preparing leaders:

  • Values Based and Data Driven
  • Globally Oriented
  • Experiential
  • Entrepreneurial

The brand work also offered an opportunity to address another niggling challenge: Our school’s eight-word, 55-character name. New guidelines offer a more streamlined identity: “WashU Olin Business School,” captured in a more casual brand “mark”—a variation on the formal logo—that we will use as a “nickname” for the school when the full name is also visible elsewhere.

We’ve also taken care to ensure that Olin’s brand aligns with the WashU master brand. The university is often the front door to the business school, so it’s important that the two entities align. Our story starts with the core idea of the master brand, but extends that idea in a relevant and meaningful way.

More information about the strategic plan and the brand messaging strategy is available on the Marketing & Communications section of Campus Groups, where visitors can download logos, templates, and fonts, as well as see guidance on the use of our brand and our colors.




Angela Lu and Meredith Owen, MBA ’19, co-wrote this post on behalf of the Graduate Business Student Association. Lu is president of the organization; Owen is vice president of social programs.

Angela Lu, MBA '19, president of GBSA.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19

What’s student government for, anyway? What’s the fun in introducing pseudo-political squabbles and contextually overrated power grabs?

The Graduate Business Student Association exists to improve the MBA student experience. Our guiding mission is to continuously improve the two-year journey so each cohort discovers more value than the one before. Well, what better way to do so than to start from the very beginning—and redesign new student orientation?

Meredith Owen led a team to completely revamp the Gateway Olin (GO!) experience for the Class of 2020 over the course of the summer. Let’s catch up with how that process went!

Your team had less than four months to completely overhaul GO! Week as we—the Class of 2019—experienced it. Can you walk us through this intensive project?

Meredith Owen, MBA ’19

Along with two members of GBSA senate—Jin Hwang and Ony Mgbeahurike—and vice president of international student affairs, Ashish Joy, I started by collecting feedback on past GO! Weeks from our peers. Instead of sending out yet another electronic survey, we set up a table with coffee and doughnuts and spent a week gathering in-depth responses from our passionate Class of 2019 classmates. (We had a 60 percent participation rate!)

We then pored over the feedback and formed six main categories of GO! Week activities: academic courses, professional development, celebrating culture, social activities, team-building exercises, and education around diversity and inclusion. We individually researched strategies on how best to improve the experience in each category based on the student feedback. It was a priority for us to weave GBSA’s strategic goals—Increasing Olin Pride, Connectivity, and Accountability—as well as the five Olin values into each activity of the two-week official orientation.

Over the course of the summer months, we worked closely with different administrative bodies on campus, including the Olin dean’s office, graduate programs office, the Center for Diversity & Inclusion, and the Olin Partners Association.

Brief us on some of the cool new aspects the team introduced to GO! Week.

Some of the core updates from the past GO! Programming include:

  • A history-themed bus tour of St. Louis;
  • A series of “diversity in the workforce” sessions hosted by Mastercard;
  • An “unconscious bias” session hosted by the Center for Diversity and Inclusion;
  • Cultural agility sessions orchestrated by Judy Shen-Filerman;
  • Culturally themed lunches (one for each day).

    Students enjoy team-building activities as part of MBA GO! Week. ©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

We also made a special effort to more proactively involve students’ partners as part of orientation. We added a family-friendly meet-and-greet, and invited international students’ partners to the first day to become more acquainted with St. Louis and its resources.

Let’s hear from everyone on the team! What are your thoughts on this GO! Week project now?

Jin Hwang: “I wanted to find a way to welcome our first-year classmates and the GO! Week Initiative was a good way to do that. Also, I found more school spirit within myself by doing this. I am thankful to have been part of the team to have an opportunity to welcome the Class of 2020!”

Students enjoy a culturally themed lunch.

Ony Mgbeahurike: “It was truly gratifying to have the freedom to introduce new activities, such as culturally themed days with lunches showcasing cuisines from different regions, and a diversity and inclusion panel with Mastercard employees that highlights the importance of diversity within business. Getting such extensive support from administration for these changes really topped the experience for me.”

Ashish Joy: “The best part for me was getting the opportunity to showcase the cultural diversity at Olin through the GO! Program.”

Meredith Owen: “Working on the GO! Week Initiative has been one of the most rewarding experiences for me thus far in the MBA program. We were able to truly shape the GO! experience for our incoming classmates thanks to the receptive Olin administration team. Our ability to offer input and work on such a personal level with the administration at Olin is extremely rewarding.”


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