Tag: Executive MBA



Last month, the Impact Investing Symposium returned to Olin. In it’s second year, the Symposium brought together professionals in finance, foundations, social justice, and government to discuss the potential for impact investing in St. Louis. What a turnout: 180 attendees across industries and experience of impact investing.

The afternoon began with a keynote interview with Nicole Hudson, exploring the work of the Ferguson Commission and what types of projects are ripe for investment in St. Louis. The Ferguson Commission was crucial in advancing a community understanding, response, action plan and forward steps after the shooting of Michael Brown in North St. Louis. Like all community action, the initiative needed tangible measures for impact as well as buy-in from an entire community, across backgrounds and city/county lines.

The necessity for common language and common ground is paramount for impact investing: we need voices of the under-served, perspectives of the financiers, and mediators who can find the common goals. That’s what makes the Impact Investing Symposium unique. It’s a rarity to get folks of these industries in the same room, having a conversation, exchanging dialogue, looking forward.

This year’s panel expanded on a discussion of last year: why impact investing is imminent. Mike Eggleston shared community survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis while David Desai-Ramirez articulated ways for individuals and institutions to take direct action in impact investing: speak with a conduit social enterprise like IFF or Justine PETERSEN. Symposium veteran Tim Coffin shared the traditional finance mechanisms in place for investing with impact and Heather Cameron contributed macro level understandings of community impact. Jake Barnett, mediator, delivered a final parting challenge: “integrity is the proximity of one’s values to their actions.”

The conversation on changing mindsets and redefining “return” will continue – but the Symposium is ready for it’s next iteration: what are actionable steps? How can Olin be at the forefront of impact investing? Where should St. Louis focus it’s resources, intellect, and innovation?

We left the Symposium with the following directive: what projects can we support as individuals, investors, and community members? Have ideas? Be in touch – we’re ready to move forward: impactinvest@wustl.edu.

The Impact Investing Symposium was founded, organized and implemented by socially-minded Olin MBA students. We intend to keep this mission alive at Olin: bridging finance and social impact. To support this initiative or make further inquiry regarding potential future sponsorship, please contact impactinvest@wustl.edu. This event was sponsored by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation and hosted by Net Impact, the Weston Career Center, and Olin Business School.




The bad news is: “the money companies spend on R&D is producing fewer and fewer results,” according to Anne Marie Knott, Olin strategy professor, and author of the just-published book How Innovation Really Works.

Knott_chosenIn an article published on the Harvard Business Review website this week, Knott says, “My research shows the returns to companies’ R&D spending have declined 65% over the past three decades.” This decline begs the question and title of Knott’s article, “Is R&D Getting Harder, or Are Companies Just Getting Worse At It?”

Her research finds that companies are getting worse at R&D, but there’s a silver lining:

“It appears the decline in companies’ (and the economy’s) ability to drive growth from R&D stems from the fact that companies have gotten worse at innovation, rather than because innovation has gotten harder. This is great news, because the problem of companies getting worse is fixable, whereas the problem of innovation getting harder isn’t. The challenge, of course, is knowing what to fix and how to fix it.”

Link to Harvard Business Review




The next Century Club event will be held in Emerson Auditorium, Knight Hall, March 22, starting at 7:30 a.m. with complimentary breakfast. Carl Casale (EMBA’92), CEO of CHS Inc. will be the speaker. Link to RSVP.

This article was originally published in Olin Business Magazine in 2013, written by David Sheets.

Carl Casale

Carl Casale (photo courtesy of CHS)

Carl Casale talked while driving to a meeting outside St. Paul, Minn. It was the only chance he had to sit still.

Life moves fast when you’re president and chief executive officer of CHS Inc., a multi-billion dollar Minnesota-based Fortune 100 cooperative with interests in food processing and wholesale, farm supply and financial services, among many others.

Besides that, Casale and his wife run a commercial blueberry farm in his home state of Oregon, and the busy season is just winding down. When he’s not in St. Paul, he trades his suit and tie for a pair of comfortable jeans and heads to the berry fields to get his hands dirty.

“I go out every two weeks when they’re harvesting,” he said by hands-free phone. “My wife’s there watching things, of course, but it’s my chance to get back out in the fields, because that’s my life’s work.”

Executive decision
Casale grew up on an Oregon vegetable farm, studied agricultural economics at Oregon State, then signed on with Monsanto in Washington state to sell herbicides. From there, he worked his way up to chief financial officer, though finance was not his chief interest or skill. Monsanto offered to help him out.

Through its Executive MBA program, “Olin had a partnership with Monsanto. The leadership at the time thought I should take advantage of that, and I jumped at the chance,” Casale said. “Whenever you have an opportunity to expand your skill base, what you probably don’t appreciate at the time is the ability to also expand your perspective.”

The Executive MBA commitment took up many of Casale’s Fridays and Saturdays, several hours of study-group work each week, plus two hours of book study a night, on top of long days at Monsanto. The program, which he finished in 1992, presented one of the biggest challenges he ever faced, he said.

Olin’s impact
Yet Casale gained more from his Olin studies than he expected.

“The knowledge I gained at Olin … not only allowed me to be an effective CFO, it gave me an appreciation and understanding of how to do it better,” Casale said.

That in turn boosted his management profile and made him the optimum choice to head CHS, known as Cenex Harvest States until changing its legal name in 2003.

“(Casale) has a really impressive and broad scope of business experience,” then-Chairman Michael Toelle told the Star-Tribune in Minneapolis upon Casale’s hiring in 2010. Plus, he has “rural values and a commitment to agriculture.”

But Casale credits Olin for making him a better manager.

“The broader growth through my study group was every bit as valuable to my degree as the hard skills I learned in the classroom, and probably had a greater influence on me over time,” said Casale, who has the distinction of being the first chief executive CHS hired from outside the cooperative.

“You know, you can learn skills by reading a book but you can’t gain perspective by doing that, right? You have to interact with others in order to gain that,” he continued. “In my view, what really differentiated Olin when I went through is that a bunch of members of my study group I still consider to be my best friends.”

CATEGORY: Career, News



Alumni in the news

Joyce Trimuel (EMBA 2016) has been appointed the Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at CNA. In this newly created role, Trimuel is responsible for developing and leading a cadre of strategic priorities aimed at accelerating the company’s efforts to build a diverse and inclusive culture.

“In addition to being a catalyst for positive change and a passionate, demonstrated champion of diversity, Joyce is a results-driven business leader who will ensure we attract, develop and retain the best people by focusing on the broadest possible pool of talent within our company and throughout the marketplace,” said Liz Aguinaga , Chief Human Resources Officer, CNA.

Joyce_Trimuel__2016_Headshot

Joyce Trimuel

Trimuel joins CNA with nearly 20 years of underwriting and industry leadership. Most recently, she served as Vice President and Kansas City Branch Manager for Chubb. At the same time, she founded the Lead.Link.Leverage initiative, offering more than 200 women business leaders in the Kansas City community professional career development.

“Diversity and inclusion leads to more innovation, more opportunities for all, better access to talent and better business performance,” said Dino E. Robusto , Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, CNA. “By working with people from different backgrounds and with different experiences and working styles, we learn and obtain another point of view. Diverse views make for better decisions, and thus drive a high-performance culture. Joyce’s leadership will allow us to meet the needs of customers from countless backgrounds and play a more vital role in our global communities.”

Trimuel holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign , as well as an MBA from the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis . She has earned several diversity achievements, including acting as the chair of Chubb’s Multicultural Development Council, developing and implementing a first-of-its-kind leadership development program, and leading several successful civic and charitable partnerships.

CNA_FINANCIAL_CORPORATION_LOGOAbout CNA
Serving businesses and professionals since 1897, CNA is the country’s eighth largest commercial insurance writer and the 14th largest property and casualty company. CNA’s insurance products include commercial lines, specialty lines, surety, marine and other property and casualty coverages. CNA’s services include risk management, information services, underwriting, risk control and claims administration. For more information, please visit CNA at www.cna.com.

Source: CNA News Release, Chicago, March 6, 2017

CATEGORY: Career, News



Photo, above: Tom and Catherine Holland and their children.

Tom Holland, EMBA ’12, has always been drawn to a life of adventure. As a young man from central Illinois, he participated in Wilderness Adventures, an adventure travel camp headquartered in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with program offerings all over the world. Founded in 1973, Wilderness Adventures is for students ages 11-20 and seeks to inspire their leadership capabilities while adventuring through the most pristine natural spaces on the planet.

“That month-long summer experience opened my eyes to the person I could be. I was also exposed to the thrill of outdoor adventure,” Tom says. “I found that the experience was a unique way to educate the minds of young adults. I didn’t know it was possible to receive leadership education in wilderness areas.”

Tom’s experience led to him pursue a degree in secondary education from WashU (LA’02), and after graduating, he became a high school teacher. While teaching high school social studies, he continued to spend his summers leading backpacking adventures for kids in Wyoming.

“The mountains became an extension of my classroom—one where I could grow young adults into the best version of themselves. Using the metaphor of wilderness challenge, we deepened our understanding of ourselves,” he says.

Eventually, Tom went on to become the Executive Director of a residential summer camp program in Wyoming. In his new role, Tom decided to return to Washington University, but this time as a member of Olin’s Executive MBA Class 38.

“The EMBA program, much like that summer adventure so many years ago, challenged me in new ways. I found myself learning from both my professors and my peers. Further, they challenged me to dream big when it came to my professional life in the camp and adventure travel business.”

Following his EMBA experience, Tom took on a new job as CEO of the American Camp Association. There, he served as an industry spokesperson and worked with thousands of summer camp programs in the United States to improve the quality and availability of programs to children.

It was during his tenure at the American Camp Association that he was contacted by the owners of Wilderness Adventures, the program he attended as a teenager. They expressed their desire to pass the torch of leadership after 43 years, and wondered if Tom and his wife, Catherine, would be interested in taking the step into business ownership.

“We were thrilled to be approached with this opportunity and to direct such a fantastic company. With over 25,000 alumni, Wilderness Adventures has been a leader in the camp and student adventure travel industry since 1973, and we look forward to continuing that legacy.”

With hundreds of students coming from all over the United States and many international countries too, the program has global reach. And after just over a year at the helm, it is easy to see that Tom is putting to use the skills he acquired at Olin. While remaining true to the core programming of electronics-free youth adventure travel expeditions in national parks and wild areas around the globe, Wilderness Adventures is launching a day camp program for a younger audience in Jackson Hole.

A surfing excursion with Wilderness Adventures

A surfing excursion with Wilderness Adventures

“It is our goal to inspire the next generation to dream big. I was issued that challenge through my experience with Wilderness Adventures all those years ago, and Catherine and I look forward to being stewards of that mission for years to come.”

During the month of March, Wilderness Adventures is offering a $200 program coupon for the children of Olin alumni who wish to enroll in the summer of 2017.  To claim your coupon, email info@wildernessadventures.com, with the subject line: OLIN20.

Written by guest blogger KC Friedrich, Senior Associate Director of Development, Olin Business School

CATEGORY: Career, News