Tag: Executive MBA

Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004,

Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004

C. Donald Dorsey, a member of Olin’s National Council, a longtime scholarship supporter, and distinguished alumnus, died on Thursday (May 3, 2018). He was 76.

Mr. Dorsey served as a senior executive for PetSmart during its rapid expansion from seven stores to more than 500. He even served a stint as interim CEO for the company’s operations in the UK, where he was credited with stabilizing its operations in the late 1990s and positioning the overseas unit for continuous improvement at that time.

Longtime members of the Olin community recalled Mr. Dorsey as a tireless booster for Olin and Washington University, where he received his BSBA degree in 1964.

“He was pretty close to me,” said Robert Virgil, dean emeritus at Olin. “He was one of my very first students when I started teaching. I go back a long way with him. I remember him well as a good student, a leader of his class and after graduating, a dedicated alum of Washington University—very generous.”

Virgil recalled Mr. Dorsey being very active in Washington University’s Scholarship Initiative Campaign. Indeed, he and his wife have been benefactors of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship since 2006. Two years earlier, Mr. Dorsey had received Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his career accomplishments.

“Don was a very special friend for Olin Business School and Washington University,” said Mahendra Gupta, former Olin dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management. “He loved his school and his university and was always there to support them and to be a great ambassador.”

Gupta recalled recruiting a reluctant Mr. Dorsey to the National Council by inviting him to a meeting, where he was impressed by the membership of the group and the intense dedication each member shared for the future of the school. He joined the council in 2009.

“Don was an engaged member of the Olin community through his service on our National Council,” Dean Mark Taylor said. “His commitment to supporting students is inspiring and I am grateful for how welcoming he was during my first year as dean.”

Career Highlights

Mr. Dorsey was a St. Louis native through-and-through, graduating from Normandy High School, attending Washington University, and signing on for his first job with Price Waterhouse locally. He worked there 12 years before moving into general management with retailers in the grocery, automotive, and eye-ware industries.

In 1989, Mr. Dorsey joined PetSmart—three years after it launched—as senior vice president and chief financial officer, helping the company through enormous growth. The chain had blossomed to more than 500 stores and Mr. Dorsey helped guide the company through its 1993 IPO before he retired in 1999.

“Being a CPA was a strong background for moving into general management,” Mr. Dorsey said upon receiving recognition as a distinguished alumnus. “In building PetSmart, we began by working with consumer focus groups to discover what our customers really needed. From that basis, we built on the concept of one-stop service for their pets.”

At about that time, after his leadership, the company’s UK unit was acquired by UK-based Pets at Home in December 1999. PetSmart later went private after its 2015 takeover by BC Partners for $8.7 billion.

Following his retirement, Mr. Dorsey worked as an adviser and investor for several development-stage consumer-related companies such as Ulta Beauty and Five Below.

His wife Lydia and his children were with him at the time of his death. Mr. Dorsey is survived by his wife, Lydia; daughter, Lisa. and son-in-law, Ken Stewart; daughter, Christine Dorsey; stepsons, Eric Bazarnic and Cliff Bazarnic; daughters-in-law, Lynn Ducey and Zoja Bazarnic.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Pictured above: National Council member and BSBA ’64 Don Dorsey with Frank Duan, BSBA ’16, recipient of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship.

The Center for Experiential Learning celebrated the accomplishments of 44 participants in the Olin/United Way Board Fellows program on Monday, April 23. The students served 46 agencies across our region.

In addition, the CEL recognized six agencies that celebrated their five-year anniversary with the board fellows program: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St. Louis Chapter; JDRF; Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House; The Salvation Army Midland Division; Senior Services Plus, and the Wyman Center.

In the video above, we meet several Olin students as they embarked on their board service at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year. Later, we check in on the reaction to their time as nonprofit board members and we also get a chance to hear from staff members from several of the agencies that participated in the program.

The Olin/United Way Board Fellows program pairs Olin graduate students with United Way of St. Louis-supported nonprofits for a one-year term on the agency’s board. In addition to their board service—as full, voting members—they are responsible for executing a project designed to provide lasting social impact. These projects bring to bear innovative thinking, detailed analysis, and valuable recommendations from talented Olin students through their pro bono service.

Jamie Semler, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.

“Are you prepared to be a leader?”

As an undergraduate business school student, I have been taught the technical skills and knowledge needed to excel in my career and the fundamental aspects of management and professionalism. The emphasis in my coursework on data-based decision making and evaluation of success through numerical measures and ratios has prepared me to be a valuable future manager in any organization.

Yet, as Bob Chapman—chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Group—challenges us to answer the question above, I am forced to think about the ways in which my education and experiences have contributed to or fallen short of preparing me for my career.

In describing his experiences and leadership philosophy, often termed “Truly Human Leadership,” Bob helped us all attempt to think about and answer the above question and left us with some key takeaways about being an impactful leader:

Taking Responsibility for Other People’s Lives

Bob’s realization of the profound impact leaders have on those that they lead has spurred his belief that leaders are responsible for being stewards for the people they lead. Through his experiences at Barry-Wehmiller he has seen the effect his actions as a leader have had on the health, family life, and work satisfaction/enjoyment of his employees.

 Having the Courage To Care

The main principle underlying Bob’s leadership style is the importance of showing that you care about those who you are leading. This idea is best explained by Bob’s statement that “the greatest thing you can do as a leader is let people know they matter.”

In order to show appreciation for his employees, he has created a guiding principles award aimed at recognizing and rewarding those who exemplify leadership and company values, as nominated by their peers. The emotional responses to getting the award demonstrate the impact this type of leadership tactic has on the morale of the employees.

Defining Success

By measuring success by how he touches the lives of people, rather than solely by economic figures, Bob has created an environment that shows that he takes an interest in his employees. The way in which he handled the economic downturn of 2009 shows that he places importance on the lives of the people.

Instead of laying people off, which would severely affect the lives of many people, he decided that since he measures success by the way he touches people’s lives, he would not fire anyone and instead ask people to take a one month unpaid vacation, so that everyone suffered a little loss, but no one suffered a complete loss.

Understanding the Importance of Business Strategy

Although Bob puts much emphasis on being good to his people, he also notes the importance of having a strong business model in order to be able to support the them.  In talking about some key aspects of a strong business model, he emphasizes the importance of focusing on cash, growth through organic means and acquisitions, developing a sustainable model that balances markets and customers, and building a board of directors that you respect and who will challenge your thinking.

Eric Moraczewski, executive director of the Gateway Arch Park Foundation. Photo by Ron Klein

Eric Moraczewski was sitting in an Executive MBA classroom at Olin’s Knight Center on a spring evening almost exactly two years ago when he felt the phone vibrate in his pocket. He excused himself and answered the call from a board member at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation.

“It was a quick call,” Moraczewski said. “One of the board members said Maggie let us know she’s leaving. He said, ‘We’d like you to run the foundation.'”

Maggie Hales, then president and executive director of the foundation and Moraczewski’s boss, had resigned. So over lunch at Bobo Noodle House the next day, the board member and Moraczewski worked out the details and just like that, he assumed control over a $380 million project to renovate one of the country’s most beloved icons. After a brief interim period, Moraczewski took on the executive director permanently in October.

Just a few months earlier, he’d been hired as the foundation’s CFO—the result of another fateful phone call at 3 a.m., while Moraczewski was in Asia running his consulting firm, FDI Strategies. Then, a recruiter was on the line letting him know an opportunity was available.

“It was one of those opportunities that you only get once—if you’re lucky, twice—in your life,” Moraczewski said. “The Arch is one of those world symbols.”

EMBA Education Brought Confidence

A few weeks after taking the reins at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation, Moraczewski received his Executive MBA from WashU. The experience supplemented the skills he needed to establish and brand his own consulting firm targeting companies doing business in Asia. And it also gave him the confidence to stand in front of a “who’s who” of civic leaders on the foundation’s board and provide mission-focused updates.

Eric Moraczewski, EMBA '16, interviewed at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation offices.

Eric Moraczewski, EMBA ’16, interviewed at the Gateway Arch Park Foundation offices.

“There are some intimidating people in that room if they wanted to be. They’re not. They’re great people,” he said.

The class connections are also invaluable. He’s recruited one of his classmates for the foundation’s young friends board and another—Eric Maddox, a former Army interrogator whose work led to Saddam Hussein’s capture—will be a featured speaker at the Arch’s Veterans Day event.

Moraczewski speaks highly of Sam Chun, Olin assistant dean and director of executive education, for the way he could “see how an idea grows into a business, how quickly he’d progress through that.” Frans VanOudenallen, director of career development, helped inspire Moraczewski to a wholesale overhaul of personal branding for his consulting business.

“I never really tried in undergrad or in high school. It came fairly easy to me. I didn’t get as much out of it as a I should have,” he said. “This was the first time I chose education as opposed to just going through the steps. It had a different meaning.”

A Time of Transition for the Arch

Since Moraczeski took over the foundation’s leadership, the milestones have come fast and furious for the project he manages with five other major stakeholders: the city of St. Louis, Great Rivers Greenway, the National Park Service, Bi-State Development, and the Jefferson National Parks Association.

Each has a piece of the project. One manages the park trails. Another manages the museum gift shop. One operates the tram to the top of the monument. The park service manages the grounds.

But it’s the Gateway Arch Park Foundation that raised the lion’s share of the funding—$221 million—to accomplish the massive overhaul of the park grounds, renovate the museum, and construct a park walkway over Interstate 44. That piece of the project opened on March 26.

“We oversee the design and construction of the project,” Moraczewski said. “But we’re transitioning into a conservancy role. A big reason I was brought in was to develop that strategy. We want to make sure it doesn’t fall into wreck and ruin after we’ve just spent $380 million renovating it.”

A year ago, Moraczewski shepherded the foundation—previously known as CityArchRiver Foundation—through a rebranding to better highlight its connection to the Gateway Arch. He’s launched a membership program at the Arch grounds offering early access to museum exhibits, free parking, free tram rides up the Arch, and other perks.

And he’s making it a priority to give regional residents more reasons to come to the newly revitalized venue. Most residents historically visit every six to 10 years. That has to change, Moraczewski said.

“They paid for this; they should use it,” he said. “What we’ve found is that if you grew up here, this is where you had your first date. It’s where you grew up. But if you’re under 40, you don’t have that experience.”

Launching the Blues at the Arch concert series in 2016 was one initiative designed to draw local residents—and it worked. In that first year, 4,000 attended. A year later, attendance mushroomed to 18,000.

Meanwhile, Moraczewski never tires of hearing stories from visitors about the first time they visited the 52-year-old landmark. As the renovation winds to its close and his team prepares for the July 3 grand opening for the fully completed project, he’s doing interviews with The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, national television networks, and other media outlets around the globe.

“It weighs on me more now than at any other time. Earlier, it was all about the excitement of the construction. Now that we’re prepared to open, we’d better not let down the community,” he said. “I have no doubt that we will not.”

Kurt Dirks

Long-time Olin professor and former interim dean Kurt Dirks has been tapped for a new university-wide assignment as vice chancellor for international relations and director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

He will succeed James Wertsch in the vice chancellor role when Wertsch leaves the post July 1 and takes over the academy director’s role Jan. 1.

“Kurt is a perfect successor to Jim. He brings energy to continue to build on our progress and vision to find new opportunities to expand our international engagement,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said in the announcement to the WashU community on Friday. “I am looking forward to this next chapter in our international programming.”

Dirks comes into the new post after teaching at Olin since 2001. Now the Bank of America Professor of Managerial Leadership, he is also co-director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center and served as interim dean of the business school after Mahendra Gupta retired from the post in 2016.

“I’m grateful to Dean (Mark) Taylor for being so supportive in this,” Dirks said. “In the new role, I am looking forward to help support the global vision Dean Taylor has for Olin, as well as working with the other schools to support their global objectives.”

In his new role, Dirks will help to attract students from across the globe to attend Washington University, to strengthen ties between Washington University and leading research universities from other countries, and to support global research and educational programs in the university.

Dirks will remain on the Olin faculty, continuing his research on trust and leadership. He will no longer be able to teach his “Power and Politics” or “Defining Moments” classes, which are popular electives in the MBA program. Although he will remain active in the Bauer Leadership Center, he will step down from his post as co-director.

“I am excited Kurt is taking on this significant role at the university, and I am thrilled that he will remain connected to Olin as we grow our school’s global presence and offerings,” Dean Taylor said. “It is as important as ever to continue to emphasize around the world the academics, research, intellectual capacity, student experience, innovation, and values that make Olin and Washington University so special.”

Dirks’s connection to McDonnell is a continuation of his service on its steering committee, where he’s served since 2015. He helped to launch Olin’s Executive MBA program with IIT-Bombay in Mumbai, the first US-based EMBA degree program in India. He also helped manage Olin’s EMBA partner program with Fudan University in Shanghai.

Wertsch was the founding director of the McDonnell academy in 2005, which was founded as a hub of international activity and has grown to include 34 partner universities around the world. According to WashU’s announcement, the academy was established to help link universities in sharing expertise and research to jointly work on significant global challenges such as energy and the environment and global health.

Wertsch also expanded the McDonnell Scholars program, which pairs international students from partner universities with WashU faculty mentors to study on campus. The program has grown to 98 alums since its first graduate in 2007.

Dirks indicated there may be opportunities for the McDonnell Academy and Bauer Center to collaborate on their work.

“The McDonnell Scholars program helps international students become leaders in their own areas — law, science, business,” Dirks said. “We want to look at whether there are ways the Bauer Leadership Center can add onto that.”

Cameron McKenzie (my son), me, and my daughter Maya McKenzie at my EMBA graduation in May 2015.

I was already an educated person. I had a master’s degree in the humanities. I had experience. My career—IT project management—was established. I remember thinking, “I’ve had enough school. I know what I need to know.”

The problem was, I was dissatisfied with my career. Not really at home in IT, but dependent on my IT income, I didn’t know how to do something else without leading to bankruptcy. I started talking to people I knew and respected about this problem.

A friend suggested talking to Frans VanOudenallen, executive career coach. Frans has an office at Olin. He’s associated with EMBA, although that’s not the conversation we had. When I visited him, we talked about my job dissatisfaction and what we could do about it.

It didn’t occur to me that school might be a means to address the problem. I appreciated the conversation, went home, and thought about it.

The author in front of Fudan University in Shanghai, one of the stops we made on our International Residency in March 2015.

The author in front of Fudan University in Shanghai,
one of the stops we made on our International Residency
in March 2015.

I worked for Washington University at the time; the post-graduate programs host semiannual informational luncheons for staff members. By the time I returned to work gave it more thought, I’d been bitten. The conversation with Frans and the luncheon made me feel like I had something within my grasp, although I couldn’t put my finger on it. I asked Frans for a contact with EMBA. He put me in touch with Edie Varley.

I first met Edie for mid-afternoon coffee at Kaldi’s in Clayton. She soon got to the heart of my issues. Before I knew it, I was describing my worst work nightmares and listening to her explain that I didn’t have to put up with it.

Persuaded by a Force of Nature

Edie’s title, director of discernment, is a product of her unique approach: Helping potential students decide whether the program is right for them.

“It’s not recruiting. I’m not selling anything here,” she said. “It’s a pound of flesh and it’s a chunk of change, and so together, we get to the heart and the root of it.”

Meanwhile, I had teenagers approaching college age—five of them. I thought it was selfish to start a program when it was their turn, not to mention the time commitment and balance of responsibilities between my husband and me.

I knew WashU might sponsor my degree, but I hadn’t asked yet. I didn’t know what they would say if I expressed a desire to do it. What if they said no? And I didn’t want to give up vacation time for classes.

Edie and I spoke several times. Talking to Edie means having the most intense, poetic, maddening, and beautiful conversation you’ve ever had, every time. Yet, when the phone would ring in those next days and weeks, sometimes I didn’t want to answer.

She challenged me to stand up for myself, to become my best self. She didn’t want me to give up and she wasn’t giving up on me. Edie said follow-up calls with prospects are the most challenging part of her job.

“When they don’t return emails and they don’t return phone calls, they fail to realize that their brand and their reputation is always speaking,” she said. “Somewhere, they stopped seeing me as a guide. They’ve turned me into a vendor selling them something.”

Having the ‘Grown Up’ Conversations

Deep down, I was so touched by Edie’s passion, I took the next steps: an information session with executives and lunch with students. A doctor from the WashU medical school talked about how the program allowed him to break off a piece of his job and concentrate on it as a startup.

He got married during the program and took his wife on the trip to China. He got funding from his department by telling them, “I’m going to do this.” I couldn’t see myself doing that and being successful at getting funding, but I liked the idea.

Sometime around my first meeting with Edie, I broke my leg. Though she still encouraged me to join the next cohort, I decided to slow down. I needed time to heal, prepare, and talk to my leadership about the opportunity.

Edie had spoken about the “grown up” conversations required to ask for what you want, so with that, I approached the director of my department with the request. I expected her to say no. I didn’t feel I was a valued enough employee to warrant support in this endeavor. But by this point, I wanted it so badly, I feared I’d have to quit if they refused.

She didn’t. On the contrary, she laid out the steps to make it happen. I would have to use my vacation. They would sponsor me. By that time, I thought I’d be crazy to turn down a free MBA over vacation time. Just like that, I had had the grown up conversation that would change my life. I started the next September.

Edie says the reward for her work is the people who describe the great things that have happened to them because of the EMBA program.

“You’re living the dream. You decided to face your fears and do it anyway,” she said. “That is a daily reward for me: When I see them live up to the fullness of their own promise and help other people do it, too.”

This is all true. So, when I talk to anyone considering the program, I tell them to do it. And I tell them to talk to Edie.

Pictured above: Cameron McKenzie, the author’s son, the author herself, and her daughter Maya McKenzie at the author’s EMBA graduation in May 2015.

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