Olin’s 2020 EMBA program consisted of 87students, all of whom continued or finished the program as the country shut down due to a global pandemic. Luckily, the EMBA program responded quickly and effectively to the newly-virtual and distanced educational experience. From virtual graduation ceremonies to hybrid classrooms, here’s how Olin EMBA students responded to the pandemic, by the numbers:
day to redirect travel and set up EMBA 55 on-campus DC residency after Washington University suspends travel on March 9
virtual graduation watch parties, along with celebration kits sent out to grads
cohorts—54 and 55 hybrid global residency
months—EMBA hybrid classrooms at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Clayton
months with virtual-only classes
conversations over cocktails with Olin experts, attended by 400 alumni and students
SimNet online Excel courses
lunches delivered to student homes in March and April
boxes packed and delivered to FedEx and DHL containing books and course packs
“mobile break station” packages delivered to student homes between May and December
We congratulate the EMBA program for their resilience and efficiency during this challenging time.
Matthew Nyman died in an avalanche in Alaska last week. He was 43.
Nyman was an Army veteran, wounded warrior, government innovator and 2017 Olin EMBA alumnus.
Last Tuesday, he and two other climbers drove to the trailhead at Bear Mountain, near Chugiak, an area about 20 miles northeast of Anchorage. The last time anyone heard from them was around 10:30 a.m. that day, Alaska State Troopers reported.
The climbers were due back at the trailhead around 5 p.m. Tuesday and were reported overdue to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, according to media reports.
On Wednesday morning, February 3, troopers and the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group began to search the mountain. Searchers saw that an avalanche had happened, and they found the men’s bodies buried in the slide.
Nyman, who lived in Denver, was an experienced climber, his wife, Kris Crichton, told the Tribune News Service. An Army Ranger turned Delta Force operator, Nyman was severely injured in a 2005 helicopter crash.
“He fought to be healed from the loss of a leg and no use of his other foot, in addition to a traumatic brain injury, to be able to walk again, climb mountains and work for the government to fight drug cartels in Mexico,” Crichton said Thursday. The couple met at Olin while Nyman and Crichton were both in the EMBA program, and they married in September 2020. (See his obituary.)
Nyman had considered business school for years. The helicopter crash helped accelerate his thinking, according to a 2019 Olin Blog post. During a combat operation, he was a passenger in a helicopter landing atop a building in Iraq. The crash left him with severe injuries to his head, back, lungs, femur and a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg.
After fighting his way back to health and building a stellar career developing and launching threat-assessment centers in the military and public sector, he pivoted to the private sector.
Nyman was a dedicated father to his two sons and his stepson, Crichton said. He most recently was the Cyber Fusion Center director for American Family Insurance.
He also was featured in the 2012 documentary “High Ground,” which followed 11 veterans as they climbed the Himalayan Mount Lobuche.
In a Q&A with McKinsey & Company published last month, Keith Choy describes how his GlaxoSmithKline’s Asia–Pacific Consumer Healthcare group is relying on the reality of the pandemic and the company’s values to speed up its response to customers and demonstrate its agility.
Choy, EMBA-Shanghai ’07, is head of the GSK unit, overseeing 6,000 employees whom, the article says, he has asked “to consider the pandemic a call to action, a chance to double down on existing digitalization initiatives and strengthen end-to-end supply chains to even better respond to emerging consumption trends across the 23 Asia–Pacific markets the company serves.”
Here are a few highlights from the October conversation Choy had with McKinsey on how “GSK is responding to COVID-19, how the company is guided by its values and what global companies can do to succeed in Asia during COVID-19 and beyond.”
On tech and digitalization
“Even before the pandemic, people were getting more digitalized and using technology in ways we couldn’t imagine before. We need to accelerate our use of digital to engage with consumers, customers, and healthcare professionals.”
On company values
“During the pandemic, and even Chinese New Year, our manufacturing site employees still went back to work; our supply chain continued to deliver products to customers. We demonstrated a deep commitment to help patients even as we worked to keep our employees safe and healthy.”
On speeding customer response
“Our decision tree is based on empowerment of our people—the trust of the leadership in the people on the ground. We give them whatever support and resources we can. In that sense, decision making is on the local level.”
On leadership qualities
“The first quality I look for is how they prioritize; I want to see how they consider opportunities and challenges and if they can quickly identify priorities. The second is how they shoulder their leadership responsibilities and accountabilities, and how well they connect with people even under remote conditions.”
Frans VanOudenallen, Olin’s director of executive career development, is retiring to spend more time with his 15 grandchildren and to travel. His last day is January 22.
VanOudenallen, 74, has worked for Olin for more than 12 years, sharing his wisdom, time and passion with Executive MBA students and alumni. He built Olin’s first career development program for EMBA students and managed a successful TEAM EMBA community, which now has 1,149 members who are at the ready to assist other EMBAs in their careers.
In all, VanOudenallen has coached more than 1,000 executives, including in Mumbai and Shanghai.
“The effective career coach cares,” he said in a recent interview on Zoom. “I would rather have as a coach someone who has average skills and cares about the person than someone who has terrific skills but doesn’t really care and blows you off, changes appointments, etc. And that’s what really is the essence of coaching. We should have that feeling of doing whatever we can to assist them in their career.”
VanOudenallen’s own coaching skills are top-notch, according to pages upon pages of letters from numerous EMBAs.
“Frans has impacted so many people’s lives, and many are grateful for his advice and unwavering commitment to their career success,” said Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of Olin’s Weston Career Center.
‘Able to draw out the best in us’
Take Don Halpin, EMBA 46, a retired US Air Force colonel and pilot. “You know how you meet people in your life who are remarkably humble but have incredible impact?” he asked. “Frans is one of those.”
Halpin met VanOudenallen in 2014 when Halpin enrolled at Olin. In 2018, Halpin was transitioning from healthcare systems engineering and product innovation in Peoria, Illinois, to the unknown in St. Louis. “Frans was there, ready to help.”
VanOudenallen “was always able to draw out the best in us and help us see things that we didn’t see naturally,” Halpin said. Essentially, VanOudenallen helped Halpin translate his military background into the language of other industries.
“He helped us draw out the gold that we didn’t know was there,” Halpin said. “He could take people like me, with a military background. He took doctors. He took people from the corporate world. It didn’t matter the background. He was able to draw out the essence of that person’s personal brand, their passion, what they’re really good at, and help them craft their message as these people are going into a new environment.”
Halpin himself became the chief operations officer of Catholic Charities of St. Louis, with 1,400 employees, a $100 million budget and 100,000 people served annually in the St. Louis region. “It was the perfect fit of my skills and passion,” he said. “It wouldn’t have happened without Frans.”
He ‘truly cared about their success’
VanOudenallen, who founded the St. Louis-based nonprofit executive career coaching service Executive Connections, was hired in 2009 to work full time on helping Olin EMBA students find jobs.
Every day, VanOudenallen brought his personal, custom approach to supporting EMBAs in the program and as alumni in enhancing their careers, said Mary Houlihan, Olin executive career coach. “He got to know literally hundreds, if not thousands, of EMBAs both personally and professionally and truly cared about their success.”
Through one-on-one meetings and support groups for students and alumni, VanOudenallen honed in on some of the challenges particular to EMBA job-seekers.
“Executive MBAs have significant experience to draw on,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2010. “Most of the time it’s an asset. But at other times, it can be a perceived drawback because their experience often comes from one silo, industry or discipline.”
They may feel that their experience in one area is not transferable to other companies or industries, he said. “But that is absolutely not true. … These experienced folks have to learn that what they know is transferable to many companies and experiences. That’s where I focus and get them to talk about how they can be successful.”
In addition to his role at Olin, VanOudenallen donated his time as a mentor with Olin’s Hatchery, which is for entrepreneurship students. On top of that, he has a private practice in which he coaches executives to optimize their performance within their organization or to transition to a new opportunity.
Advice: Be ‘a positive giver’
Those who turned to VanOudenallen for career coaching will remember him as a giver. It’s a philosophy he embraces while encouraging others to do the same.
“I talk a lot about collaboration, about being a positive giver and giving as opposed to being a taker ,” he says. In fact, the first book he recommends to EMBAs is “The Go-Giver: A Little Story About a Powerful Business Idea.” In it, a go-getter named Joe discovers that changing his focus from getting to giving leads to unexpected returns.
Oh, one more piece of advice before VanOudenallen packs his bags. It’s advice he offers to EMBAS —and to his grandchildren: “Find what you love to do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Pictured at top: Frans VanOudenallen and his wife, Jean, with six of their 15 grandchildren.
Doug Villhard, EMBA ’14, academic director for WashU Olin’s entrepreneurship platform, announced today the $30 million sale and acquisition of the startup he co-founded in 2007.
St. Louis-based Second Street, co-founded with Matt Coen, gives publishers and other clients the capacity to provide contests, interactive content and emails to grow revenue, database and engagement. The company has more than 500 clients, including news publisher Gannett, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network and WGN-TV in Chicago.
According to a news release today, Upland Software, which provides cloud-based tools for digital transformation, agreed to acquire Second Street for $25.4 million in cash at closing (net of cash acquired), paid out of cash on hand, and a $5 million cash holdback payable in 12 months.
“At Olin, I teach students to first ‘fall in love with the customer’s problem,'” said Villhard, who is also professor of practice in entrepreneurship. “If you get that right, it can lead to amazing things.”
Villhard said he worked on growing Second Street at the same time he was working on his MBA. “Every class I took I applied it to the company I was growing.” he said.
“Our customers’ business is only going to accelerate with Upland, which is tremendously gratifying for all of us who have been involved over the past 14 years in building such a special product,” Villhard said in a blog post on Upland’s website, co-founder and president of Second Street.
Other highlights from Upland’s announcement of the acquisition:
“Our customers need to deliver content experiences consumers enjoy interacting with and benefit from,” said Jack McDonald, chairman and CEO of Upland (which is publicly traded on Nasdaq: UPLD). “Contests and interactive content are a proven and effective way to engage, attract, and retain consumers, and Second Street delivers this at scale.”
Upland expects the acquisition to generate annual revenue of approximately $9.4 million, of which all is recurring.
The Upland Cloud enables thousands of organizations to engage with customers on key digital channels, optimize sales team performance, manage projects and IT costs, and automate critical document workflows.
Villhard is also a partner with his brother in Villhard Growth Partners, a private equity firm that invests in, partners with and grows strong, tech-enabled business and healthcare services companies. He has been involved in the launch and operation of two other startups. And he started Father McGivney Catholic High School in Glen Carbon, Illinois.
Pictured above: Doug Villhard on stage at one of Second Street’s annual customer summits (photo courtesy Doug Villhard).
David Jackson, EMBA ’15, who began his career in government relations as Missouri’s youngest registered lobbyist at age 19 and has negotiated more than 150 public policy changes over the last decade, will become a principal at Missouri’s largest governmental affairs consulting firm.
Gamble & Schlemeier announced Jackson will join Bill Gamble, Jorgen Schlemeier and Sarah Topp as principals in the firm, which was formed in 1996.
Jackson joined Gamble & Schlemeier in 2016 as an experienced lobbyist and policy advisor with an extensive background advancing client interests and shaping policy positions while developing relationships with Missouri’s legislative and executive branches of government.
In his new role, Jackson will support existing clients and develop new relationships to extend Gamble & Schlemeier’s commitment to providing the highest level of service that allows clients to win on tough issues.
“David’s numerous accomplishments before the General Assembly since joining the firm has gained him the confidence of our clients and respect of his peers at the state capital,” said Jorgen Schlemeier of Gamble & Schlemeier.
“Promoting David to principal strengthens the firm’s capacity and positions us to broaden our footprint, while further enhancing our ability to deliver the one-on-one counsel and client service that is the hallmark of Gamble & Schlemeier,” said Bill Gamble, founder of the firm.
Gamble & Schlemeier is a preeminent, full-service governmental affairs consulting firm with lobbyists located in Jefferson City, St. Louis and Kansas City. It takes great pride in having a diverse staff that is uniquely capable of delivering an innovative approach to the General Assembly that solves clients problems and helps them win on the issues they care about.
Jackson began his career in government relations as Missouri’s youngest registered lobbyist at age 19 and has negotiated more than 150 public policy changes over the last decade. Prior to joining Gamble & Schlemeier, Jackson served as the managing partner of Gate Way Group, the lobbying division of a media and public relations firm in St. Louis. In 2014, the St. Louis Business Journal named Jackson to its list of top 30 Under 30 business leaders in the region.
Jackson received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Westminster College and an Executive MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Jackson serves on Westminster College Board of Trustees and volunteers on the Board of Directors for Criminal Justice Ministry, a criminal justice reentry nonprofit in St. Louis. He lives in Lake St. Louis with wife, Claire Vatterott Jackson, son, John, and daughter, Lucy.