Tag: Executive MBA



Doug Villhard on stage at one of Second Street

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

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.

For more information about Gamble & Schlemeier, visit the firm’s website.




Dr. Patrick Aguilar, EMBA

The QuikTrip Corporation, a convenience store company with more than 50 locations in the St. Louis area and 850 stores in 11 states, has begun to expand into the healthcare market with the help of Dr. Patrick Aguilar, EMBA’20.

Aguilar is spearheading a new class of customer service-minded urgent care clinics as the chief medical officer for MedWise Urgent Care, the burgeoning healthcare company launched in September by QuikTrip.

Dr. Aguilar has been a celebrated member of the Washington University community for years; he was formerly an assistant professor of medicine and the director of medical critical care at the Washington University School of Medicine and worked to develop an MD-MBA program there. Aguilar, a pulmonologist and medical intensivist, has also held positions at the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas.

Aguilar’s addition to the MedWise team is driven by his interest in the application of organizational psychology principles to the world of healthcare, as well as his experience in medical education and organizational leadership. In his position as chief medical officer at MedWise clinics, Dr. Aguilar will be managing clinical strategy, supporting a team of medical professionals to provide a top-notch customer experience.

MedWise’s first urgent care clinic opened in September in Oklahoma, and the company plans to open 15 additional locations in the Tulsa area during the next two years. The goal of these clinics is to apply the same principles used in successful convenience stores—quality service, cleanliness, and friendliness—to the world of healthcare.

“We think healthcare needs to re-conceptualize the experience from the eyes of the patient,” Aguilar said in a story by KMOX radio in St. Louis. “Our goal is to take the retail principles that made QuikTrip a success in the convenience store market and apply those to healthcare.”

MedWise hopes that these tenets will set their clinics apart from the often-frustrating experience of going to urgent care. Along with general physical exams, treatments of illnesses and injuries, and vaccinations, the clinics will offer COVID-19 testing, a service that becomes increasingly important as the global pandemic rages on.

MedWise will certainly shake up the healthcare market, and perhaps the Washington University community will be seeing their clinics crop up here in St. Louis in the coming months.




You’re excited about dining at your favorite restaurant. You go to this restaurant only on special occasions, and you’ve made your reservations. You know that everything—the meal, the wait service, the ambiance—is going to be fantastic.

So now you’re at your favorite restaurant. You’re at the table.

But the wait service is poor. Your entrée is mediocre. Nothing is as you expected.

You’re at the table. But that’s not enough. Olin alum Joyce Trimuel, a career strategist and professional speaker, likened the experience to how some people can feel in the workplace.

You’re at the table, but you’re not welcome.

“Our conversation today is going to be on active inclusion with the focus of it being more than a seat at the table,” she said. “It’s really about having a voice and being able to contribute in a fully engaged way.”

Over recent months, diversity, equity and inclusion have become top priorities in many organizations. For Olin’s October 27 Leadership Perspectives event, Trimuel, EMBA ’16, discussed the importance of active inclusion and how it extends well beyond representation in “Active Inclusion: More Than a Seat at the Table.” She also addressed collective and individual responsibility for creating an inclusive culture—and the downside of not doing the work.

“I want individuals and organizations to leave this conversation more informed about what active inclusion is and commit to doing one or two things different and better so that we can all foster more inclusive cultures.”

‘If I just did a good job …’

Trimuel is a first-generation college graduate who grew up in Chicago in a working middle-class family. Her dad owned a small trucking company, and her mom was the office manager.

Trimuel had Iittle exposure to corporate America  “beyond just having the desire to work downtown,” she said. “I wanted to wear nice suits and pretty dresses, and I wanted to carry a black Coach briefcase. That was my ideal of what the workforce and what corporate America was all about.”

She said she was grateful for programs like Inroads, which afforded her the opportunity to intern for two summers during her undergraduate education. It gave her perspective, access and exposure to a world that she knew little about, she said.

But “I was very naive in thinking that  if I just did a good job, that would be enough to keep my career going and moving forward.”

She didn’t understand the nuances and the politics that oftentimes exist in the workplace.

Luckily, leaders saw potential in her and ultimately became advocates for her. They helped to propel her career forward.

“It’s more than just physically being there,” she said.

Full engagement

Active inclusion exists where  everyone has a sense of belonging and feels seen, valued, respected and heard.  

“It’s really about having a voice and being able to contribute in a fully engaged way.”

And that, Trimuel pointed out, is good for business.

If, for instance, you work in a human resources department, you pay attention to attrition and employee retention.

“Even if you are a consumer goods manufacturer, you’re thinking about customer loyalty, you’re thinking about employee loyalty.”

Are you creating the environment where individuals are bringing their best ideas, their best authentic selves, so they’re helping to solve problems for the company internally and externally? Are individuals able to authentically communicate? Is that welcome and encouraged?

Consider meetings at your organization. Perhaps a handful of people are actually leading the conversation. “I hate to use the word dominating the conversation, but they tend to have a louder voice and louder presence when it comes to the conversation,” Trimuel said.

“When you’re thinking about active inclusion, there are moments in time for us individuals to actually advocate for someone else and perhaps, you know, pause the conversation and open the floor for maybe those who have not been able to jump in and actually offer a point of view.”

Why is that important? 

“We need all of the perspectives.”

See this page to watch the presentation.




Brian Estes and Bill Purcell, EMBA

Two WashU Olin alums have distinguished themselves among their peers as experts in cryptocurrency investing just three years after pairing up on an industry-changing investment fund.

Brian Estes and Bill Purcell, both EMBA ’17, have been cited by two separate industry groups as the No. 1 performing fund for both a one- and three-year period. Estes founded the company, Off the Chain Capital, in 2016. After meeting at Olin, the two paired up to launch a new fund focused on cryptocurrency investing with $30 million under management and capacity for $100 million.

The pair was also featured August 11 in online trade publication Bitcoin Magazine under the headline, “With value approach, Off The Chain Capital is changing the bitcoin investment narrative.”

The pair targets high network individuals, endowments and institutions, that want exposure to digital assets—cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin—which make up a substantial portion of the fund’s investment strategy.

“Very few fund managers are able to outperform bitcoin,” Purcell said. “We’re figuring that out through a unique value style. The strategy is to implement the Graham/Dodd, Warren Buffett-style of investing. We’re using that style in the digital asset space. That’s what’s unique about what we’re doing.”

Indices operated by Vision Hill Group in New York City and Hedge Fund Research Inc. have ranked Off the Chain as leaders in their space over one- and three-year investment horizons. “One of our goals is to be the best performing fund—not just in crypto but in investments in general,” Purcell said. “What we’re finding is that people aren’t copying our style because it’s been overlooked.”

Meanwhile, Fidelity recently tapped into the pair’s cryptocurrency investing expertise for a recently published bitcoin research brief. “Because bitcoin is a liquid market open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, when people need liquidity, bitcoin is there to clear those trades,” Estes said for the paper. “It clears properly and offers a pure market all the time but is also accompanied by higher volatility. You have to be willing to pay that price to own such an asset.”

In the Bitcoin Magazine story, the writer notes that Purcell’s and Estes’ investment style could mitigate bitcoin’s reputation as a volatile investment asset, quoting Estes, who say, “The fund captures all of the upside and provides a cushion when the markets decline. This value style of investing gives investors a margin of safety in the portfolio.”

The story goes on to say, “As one of the best-performing funds in the space, it has shown that reliable performance and (bitcoin) can go hand in hand.”

Pictured above: Brian Estes, left, and Bill Purcell, EMBA ’17.




Stuart Bunderson teaching an Olin EMBA course.

In recent weeks—even in the midst of a global pandemic—good news has abounded for WashU Olin’s Executive MBA program. In June, The Economist ranked the Olin EMBA 18th globally and seventh in the United States, highlighting our strong research faculty and career results for a 20-spot rise in the magazine’s lineup.

And in the past week, two members of our EMBA class of 2020 landed on Poets & Quants’ esteemed listing of the “best and brightest” executive MBA students in the country. My congratulations to Faye Prevedell Dixon and Jason Carter.

Yet more good news has only just begun to emerge after a yearlong effort that’s been humming quietly in the background. A reboot of Olin’s EMBA has now received faculty approval to move forward and will begin with the next class starting this fall.

Focus on leadership development

The new EMBA curriculum will provide a strong new focus on the core theory of leadership at WashU Olin—the drive toward values-based, data-driven leadership. It will guide students through a deep examination of how they view themselves as leaders, how they want to grow and what steps they must take to achieve their leadership goals.

“This is designed to be a transformational experience,” said Nick Argyres, Vernon W. & Marion K. Piper Professor of Strategy, who co-led the EMBA review committee with Ron King, senior lecturer in accounting.

“We want this to be very personal, very customized to each student, to match what each student is actually experiencing at that time and to reach them on an intellectual level and an emotional level,” Nick said.

In addition to the committee, I am grateful for the impetus provided for this initiative individuals such as Carl Casale, EMBA ’92, who was named an Olin distinguished alumnus in 2007. Carl—an ag industry veteran who serves on the board of Syngenta and is a senior investment partner with Ospraie Ag Science—was a major driving force on this initiative.

The reboot process also included a listening tour with leaders at major companies in the St. Louis region where we draw our students—firms such as Bayer, Centene, Express Scripts, Nestlé Purina and Schnucks. The effort guided the task force’s understanding of what our neighbours require as they mould experienced managers into the next generation of senior leaders.

So, while students run through a rigorous gauntlet of coursework in strategy, negotiation, accounting, finance, economics, marketing and operations, they’ll also be working with leadership coaches to refine their goals, engage in leadership development activities and draft their personal statements of higher purpose.

Familiarity with ‘big data’ concepts

“They’ll share their refined leadership statements with one another as they’re going out the door so they can see the kind of impact they’ll have individually and as a group as they go forward,” said Stuart Bunderson, director of Olin’s Bauer Leadership Center. “I’m convinced that this is something we have that’s unique and very contemporary.”

But that’s not all. We also heard from our neighbours in the business community that the next generation of top leaders must be conversant in concepts involving big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

The new EMBA will provide experienced managers an understanding of data science and analytics and how they apply to business. It will guide them through societal issues data science raises and build an understanding of how to create and lead data science teams. In other words: How to make and manage a data-driven organization.

I’m delighted by the work we’ve undertaken, further reinforcing WashU Olin’s position as an indispensable resource.

The Olin Executive MBA program, like all of our work, is core to our mission: We produce research and disseminate it in the form of teaching and experience. A business school provides a service to the business community and society—around the world and in our own backyard.