Tag: Executive MBA



Ranjeet Ahluwalia

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 one of those vignettes.

The silence on the conference call was deafening. Seven years ago, when Ranjeet Ahluwalia, MBA ’05, was a healthcare advertising agency strategist, the team dialed in with notable physician thought leaders seeking to sell an Alzheimer’s treatment. Ahluwalia’s agency hoped to score a contract worth as much as $20 million.

Before the call, the agency pored through data about the drug, seeking information they could use to make a compelling case for the new medication. Somehow, for Ahluwalia, now founder and lead sparker at Silbospark, the clinical data just wasn’t adding up.

On the conference call, he asked a physician expert to help him “find the story” in the data that would help sell the drug. That prompted an independent pharmaceutical expert on the call to ask, “Based on what you see here, would you give this drug to your mother?”

Silence.

Ahluwalia’s firm didn’t get the contract. In fact, the drug never went to market.

“Ultimately, we had to decide whether to tell them what they wanted to hear or what they needed to hear,” Ahluwalia said. “We told them what they needed to hear—and we didn’t win the business.”




Paulino do Rego Barros Jr.

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 one of those vignettes.

When Retail Credit Corporation was founded in Atlanta nearly 120 years ago, the company kept paper files on consumers to gauge their creditworthiness. “This industry has grown from looking at a file and just saying, ‘Does he pay his bills? Yes or no?’” said Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., MBA ’91.

Indeed, as a veteran executive at the company now known as Equifax, he’s on the vanguard of the power and pitfalls the massive data revolution has wrought on the industry and its customers. Equifax and its competitors wield data that tracks purchases, evaluates how reliably customers pay bills, and measures customer assets.

In spite of the power, Barros said, “there is a strong sense of stewardship and ethics.” That sense of stewardship came through a little more than a year ago when hackers breached Equifax.

Two days after he was named interim CEO, Barros apologized to consumers and customers in The Wall Street Journal. Barros is now US Information Solutions, president and former interim CEO, Equifax.

“We didn’t live up to expectations,” he wrote. Under his leadership, the company gave consumers free credit monitoring services, upgraded its website, boosted access to call-center support, and instituted other measures to regain the faith of consumers and customers.

“The regulatory framework establishes very clearly what we can or cannot do with consumer data,” he said. “But the decisions I made—and our ethical and moral values—are very important to us.”




Munir Mashooqullah

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 one of those vignettes.

In 2012, Munir Mashooqullah’s company was an acquisition target. For shareholders, the deal might have made sense: Mashooqullah, EMBA ’98, and an Olin Distinguished Alumnus, said the acquiring company had higher profit margins and better systems and IT infrastructure.

Even some of his employees thought the deal would be good for Synergies Worldwide, which manages apparel sourcing and supply chain management for the “fast fashion” industry. “Everyone was saying, ‘Why can’t you be more like them?’” said Mashooqullah, founder and custodian, Synergies Worldwide. “I lost people. I lost tactile monetary opportunities.”

Clients, however, didn’t like the deal. They liked their current service. They appreciated the value they received.

“There are stories in leadership where you do not go with what is told to you just because the numbers look right,” he said.

Today, the company Mashooqullah founded 31 years ago is thriving. In fact, a senior executive for the competitor jumped ship to become the CEO when Mashooqullah retired in 2016.

“If there is something you believe in— and you’re not just driven by the dollar sign—in retrospect, many times people win,” Mashooqullah said. “But at the time, it may not look right.”




Kurt Dirks and Kevin Xu

The annual China alumni dinner was March 9, 2019, in Shanghai, featuring about 400 alumni—incoming students, parents and friends of Washington University for the forum and meal.

The annual event aims to increase the visibility of Washington University overseas and to reconnect international alumni in China.

Kevin Xu, chair of the China Alumni Club and International Alumni, Michael Shen and EMOF Class 16 co-organized the event.

Kurt Dirks, vice chancellor for international affairs and Bank of America Professor of Leadership, attended the dinner and shared updates of Washington University with the attendees. He also thanked Kevin Xu for his outstanding leadership of China Alumni Club.

Faculty, staff and guest attendees included:

  • Ohad Kadan, H. Frederick Hagemann, Jr. Professor of Finance and Vice Dean for Education and Globalization at Olin Business School.
  • Steve Malter, senior associate dean of undergraduate and graduate programs at Olin Business School.
  • David Konig, professor of history and professor of law at Washington University School of Law.
  • Bill Xu, head of China office, Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Emma Zhao, international alumni and development programs.
  • Paul Shao, managing director for the Washington University–Fudan University joint Executive MBA program in Shanghai.
  • Roy Li, investment associate at Washington University in St. Louis.
  • Dean Xiongwen Lu, School of Management, Fudan University



Cash Nickerson

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 one of those vignettes.

Data and values are important in making big decisions, but as Cash Nickerson, JD ’85, MBA ’93, points out, “there are really very few momentous decisions.

“We make hundreds of decisions in a day,” said Nickerson, an author and president/principal at PDS Tech Inc., one of the largest engineering and IT staffing firms in the United States. “Many are trivial. But many of the trivial decisions come back to you in one form or another.”

Nickerson thinks in terms of a “structure of thought,” a muscle he’s developed so those everyday decisions are still based on data and values. “What fascinates me more than how someone makes the big decisions is the algorithm an executive uses for making the everyday decisions,” he said.

For him, that algorithm focuses on people.

“I like to think of myself as very numbers driven as well as values driven,” Nickerson said.

“My philosophy is that I wake up every morning and remind myself of the uniqueness of humans. To me, it’s a value to treat each person as an individual.”