Tag: Faculty



Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick, a Washington University adjunct instructor, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is the author of The Mentor’s Way: Eight Rules for Bringing Out the Best in Others and is leading an upcoming daylong workshop on mentoring and leader development at Olin. This is the third in a series of Olin Blog posts on mentoring. Check out part one and part two if you missed them.

This blog post concludes my discussion about mentoring as a vehicle to extend and enhance learning. The series of posts is based on interviews with seven alumni from the School of Engineering and Olin Business School who have been mentors for students at Washington University. In my prior blog posts on mentoring, I brought together their ideas to build a definition of what a mentor was and explored what mentors do to help bring out the best in others.

In this post, I wanted to know what they suggest people do to get the most out of having a mentor.

It is important for protégés to feel empowered to “take the lead” with their mentors. Recognize that leaders around you are willing to help. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to people,” said Dante Cannarozzi, BSAS ‘01/MSCS ‘03. “I think you’ll discover most people are very receptive to being asked for advice.”

Sally Roth, EMBA ‘95, added to that advice, encouraging protégés to “be prepared to own the relationship. That is, it is incumbent upon the protégé, not the mentor, to build and maintain a trusting relationship.”

Mike Ferman, BSBA ’68, suggested protégés “set expectations with your mentor upfront. Identify how you should both communicate with each other and how frequently. Do not expect them to do things for you.” Haroon Taqi, BSCS ’90/MSCS ’95, encouraged protégés to “reach out to them and follow through to make sure that the meetings happened.”

Of course, you should also “know what you want to optimize” about yourself, observed Mark Pydynowski, BSBA ’04. He added that “the best mentors have expensive time; do not waste it by being unprepared.” That is why it is important for protégés to “chart a course” for their development journey. Think about where you see yourself in three years and get your mentor’s help in identifying what you want to learn or improve to get there.

Once you figure out what you want to learn, it helps to “open your mind” to learning. David Murphy, EMBA ’18, said that “you need to listen for your internal biases and turn them off. You’re actively seeking out growth, which may require you to learn to identify and focus on your weaknesses.”

Ferman added that protégés need to be “open to change and listening to new ideas. Being open and transparent with them about your goals and objectives, and my fears and concerns.” Finally, to truly grow and learn when working with a mentor, it helps to “stretch yourself” and take some risks. Murphy suggested that “getting out of your comfort zone and out of your own way are crucial steps in true growth.”

One thing to make sure you do is thank your mentors and let them know the impact they had on you. Taqi said that “in the end, I made sure I thanked them for their time.” Mentoring is a gift that you cannot repay. What you can do is make sure that the time the mentor invested in you made a difference. And, you can look for someone you can mentor and “pay it forward.”

“Mentorship & Leader Development,” a workshop presented by Olin Business School Executive Education, will be Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get more details and register. Nemanick is author of The Mentor’s Way.




Former WashU Olin Business School Dean Robert Virgil was honored as an “ageless, remarkable St. Louisan” by a prominent local nonprofit dedicated to improving living conditions for at-risk seniors.

Virgil, who was Olin’s dean from 1977 to 1993, is part of a class of 14 so-honored this year by the St. Andrew’s Charitable Foundation. The organization recognizes a new class each year of individuals 75 years old and up “who are actively making a tremendous impact in St. Louis through philanthropy, volunteerism, and leadership. These awe-inspiring individuals are proof positive that, at any age, we can make a difference in our community and the lives of others.”

Virgil was recognized with the other honorees at a gala on October 20 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, hosted by St. Louis Public Radio’s Don Marsh. This is what the organization had to say in its write-up about 84-year-old Dean Virgil.

Bob likes to say that he has had careers with two of the world’s finest institutions, Washington University and Edward Jones. At Washington University beginning in 1960, he taught accounting to hundreds of students and from 1977-1993, was dean of the John M. Olin School of Business.

He has had numerous other roles in the university, including chairing the highly successful scholarship segment of the recently completed Leading Together campaign.

In 1993, Bob joined Edward Jones where he had responsibility for management development and was a member of the firm’s management committee. He retired as a general partner in 2007.

Bob has been involved actively with several organizations in the St. Louis community. Among them are Girls, Inc. of St. Louis, the Magic House, City Academy, Harris Stowe State University, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Gerry and Bob enjoy four grown children, 12 grandchildren, and their pup, Maisie.

The 2018 class of “ageless, remarkable St. Louisans” also includes: Jorge M. Alegre, M.D.; Margaret (Marge) Aylward; Mariann Laue Baker; Shirley and Charles Drury, Sr.; Paul J. Gallant; Dr. Ron Gregory; Carol Powell; Jay C. Rickmeyer; Harvey G. Schneider; Mary Ann and Richard Shaw; and Ted C. Vargas, M.D.




Cliff Holekamp

One day, we may think of the Holekamp family as the Johnny Appleseed of Olin’s startup ecosystem.

Thanks to a $500,000 gift from Cliff Holekamp and his father Bill Holekamp, known as the Holekamp Seed Fund, Olin now offers up to 20 grants a year of $1,000 to students who need a small injection of capital to get a startup business off the ground.

“I’m just interested in having all of our entrepreneurship students take action on their ideas and that they have the support to pursue a passion,” said Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and academic director for entrepreneurship at Olin.

The idea for the Holekamp Seed Fund grew out of his experience with startup competitions, which typically hear from a variety of student proposals, but only reward one or two with funding. “The thought is to flip that around,” Holekamp said. “What if we were to think of it as seeding a large number of students with small checks? It’s about moving a student to action.”

It’s Holekamp’s dream that these relatively small grants will stimulate an even more vibrant startup scene on the WashU campus. The outline for the Holekamp Seed Fund suggests that the next Varsity Tutors, Schoology, or ePharmix—established firms that launched as student-run startups—will get their first investment from Olin.

He only asks for two things of the students.

First, he expects students to demonstrate a serious commitment to launching their idea. Applications won’t be judged on the potential long-term viability of the idea, but rather on how passionate the student is about giving the idea a go.

One reason for that stipulation? Eventually, students may learn their idea isn’t viable. Or, perhaps, they’ll uncover a better, more promising opportunity along the way. “Entrepreneurship should be liberating,” Holekamp said. “It shouldn’t be a cage.”

Second, Holekamp will ask recipients of the $1,000 grants to consider paying them forward after they’ve had a chance to pursue their own idea. Though not a requirement, he hopes students will consider pledging $200 a year over five years back to the seed fund or to the Olin Annual Fund.

“I’m not aware of any other schools doing something with this ‘pay-it-forward’ element,” he said. “I know of schools that do loans or give out cash prizes.” The component of building a vibrant startup community on campus was important to the Holekamp family’s conception of the idea.

“The idea behind this fund is wonderfully innovative—befitting Cliff, his family, WashU and the entrepreneurial spirit of the St. Louis community,” Dean Mark Taylor said. “This fund will provide a nudge to student entrepreneurs and it may well entice them as successful alums to likewise lend a hand to students who follow them. It’s an innovation win-win.”

Students can apply on the Holekamp Seed Fund website with the expectation that they will have a face-to-face interview with Holekamp. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis, so students can apply at any time. A three-person panel—Holekamp; his father, Bill; and Elise Miller Hoffman, MBA ’16, and principal at Cultivation Capital—will review applications. They’ll be assuring the applications come from Olin students who are ready to incorporate as a business and can demonstrate a personal commitment to the idea.

Applicants must have completed at least one semester in an Olin graduate program or course, or they must be a rising junior who is majoring in business or has participated in an Olin entrepreneurship course.

“It’s enough to get them motivated, get started, get incorporated and begin creating something,” Holekamp said. “Sometimes the hardest milestone is the first—going from nothing to something.”




Suppose your company made a substantial annual investment in a major civic event that measurably improved the lives of community members. Would that affect the business opportunities you pursue? The way you market your business? Your philanthropic spending?

The answers, of course, are all “yes.” But take a step back: How do you know your annual investment is providing those measurable returns? These questions lie at the core of a featured presentation at Olin’s inaugural Data for Good conference on October 5.

The presentation by Tony Sardella, CEO of predictive analytics technology company evolve24 is one part of a daylong agenda for business leaders and academics examining strategies for using data to make a positive and principled difference in businesses, organizations, and the community at large. Sardella will present on “Fostering Community Well-Being: Using Data to Drive Better Program Decisions.”

Making a difference with data

“That’s the goal: to let a company or a city or an organization know they’re really helping,” said Sardella, an adjunct lecturer at Olin. “How do you know your best programs? A lot of organizations are really struggling with that.”

In his presentation, Sardella will unveil a new study of civic well-being in the city of St. Louis, part of a broader study evolve24 has conducted in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, and San Monica. The research measures the outlook of residents and cross references residents’ “subjective well-being with data such as health, crime, housing starts, and other tangible data points.

Sardella was surprised to find, for example, how deeply the annual Shakespeare Festival St. Louis appears to influence civic well-being in the community. “That was definitely a little bit of an ‘ah-ha!'” Sardella said. “We had no idea.”

He said evolve24 uses publicly available digital content in its analysis of “subjective well-being,” running the unstructured, anonymous data through complex algorithms that can analyze what makes people happy about their communities—and what doesn’t. Data comes from open social media sites, blogs, comments in public forums, media news coverage, and elsewhere.

WashU leadership in the field

Knowing this information, he said, means organizations can better understand where their programs and initiatives have the biggest impact. Sardella hopes his presentation will highlight the ways business analytics—used with a values-based framework—can drive more principled decision-making. He also hopes it puts a spotlight on WashU Olin’s leadership in this area of business strategy.

“This is really important for WashU,” he said. “I’m passionate about it because some companies are starting to pull the plug on their data lakes. They’re struggling to create value for the business. But it’s about better decision-making. To make a better decision, you have to quantify and predict the consumer trends and make decisions now that match with those trends.”

Olin’s Center for Analytics and Business Insights and the Bauer Leadership Center will jointly present the October 5 Data for Good conference, which reinforces a key component of the Business School’s strategy to produce values-based, data-driven decision makers who are equipped to change the world, for good.

“It’s clear how carefully the organizers dovetailed their agenda with the needs of business leaders today and in the future,” said Olin Dean Mark Taylor. “I’m very much looking forward to hearing some of the takeaways our community colleagues and students will gain from our first Data for Good conference.”

The agenda includes presentations by executives from Equifax, Mastercard, and Daugherty Business Solutions that will explore issues such as data privacy, community philanthropy, and collaboration with a community to use the data.

The program will conclude with a keynote address by Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, a nonprofit that partners data scientists with leading social change organizations to ask the right questions—and find answers to maximize social impact.

Olin’s Data for Good conference starts with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. on October 5 in Emerson Auditorium. Click to learn more and register.




If you’re looking for Dean Mark Taylor next week—or seven other members of his team—you’ll need to look across Mudd Field. They’ll be in temporary offices in Simon Hall for the next eight to 10 weeks.

The dean and other members of his staff will uproot from Bauer Hall’s fourth floor Xu Dean’s Suite effective Monday for a down-to-the-studs office renovation. Once the staff moves out, workers will remove all the furniture, cubicles, and walls to reconfigure the space.

Plans include reconfiguring the reception area and cubicle space; adding a large conference table; replacing one cubicle with an office; adding an eating area; and reducing the size of the existing work room.

“The key word around here is change,” said Joyce Montgomery, director of administration in the dean’s office.

Oh, and where will Dean Taylor and the rest of the group be? Find them in Simon Hall, offices 262 through 271.