Tag: Full-time MBA


Mike Harding, BSEN ’14/MBA ’16, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Team on a Nike corporate team building scavenger hunt.

Nike corporate team-building scavenger hunt.

Helping people explore and connect around the world while working with clients like Nike, Amazon, and Google: Just two years after graduating from Olin, this is where I find myself.

At Olin, I studied quantitative finance. After graduating, I quickly landed a job at Allstate. But my true passion was entrepreneurship, which I also studied. I had already created two companies in my life, which both failed, but I was ready to try again.

While working at Allstate, commuting two hours a day, I was also working 50 hours a week on a new venture: a scavenger hunt app.

Let’s Roam is a scavenger hunt tour company that helps people explore their surroundings, connect with others, propose to their partners, and raise thousands of dollars for charity through donations and Charity Fundraising Scavenger Hunts.

On each scavenger hunt, questions, facts, and photo challenges are tied together with a smartphone app. Everyone works together to answer questions, learn about their surroundings, and take quirky team photos. I founded the company along with my brother Charlie Harding.

I wrote the first scavenger hunt in St. Louis. I walked around downtown on one of the hottest days of the year, connecting landmarks, and crafting games. After getting dehydrated, the end of the hunt was nearly incomprehensible—but I was quite literally pouring sweat into scavenger hunts.

Team on an Amazon corporate scavenger hunt with Let's Roam,

Amazon corporate scavenger hunt with Let’s Roam.

After I made that first hunt, I thought to myself: “Why couldn’t we build a company out of scavenger hunts?” One of my most profound moments at school was when I doing an independent study with John Horn, my professor of practice in economics. I researched the businesses that exist all around us and found that the simplest idea can be turned into a successful company. All you need is a market.

There were plenty of others selling scavenger hunts online, but as I learned from Cliff Holekamp, who was my professor of practice in entrepreneurship, it’s OK to jump into an existing market. At least you know there’s a demand.

We weren’t worried about hurdles or mistakes. They would surely come. We weren’t worried about investors either. We grew our company one scavenger hunt at a time.

Let’s Roam slowly built a team, which had its own learning curve. Apparently, you can’t just hire a developer and say “go develop.” I had to understand every angle of our business to know how to manage employees and know what to expect from them.

My brother and I combined our mutual love of travel, complementary skills, and a brutal honesty honed over a lifetime of butting heads. Our chemistry seems to be working. So far, these scavenger hunt tours have spread to more than 300 cities around the world, enjoyed by thousands of adventurous travelers and hometown explorers. A revised version of the original St. Louis Scavenger Hunt tour has been played thousands of times.

We’ve also been offering team-building scavenger hunts for companies big and small (see name drops above), as well as bachelorette scavenger hunts and charity fundraising scavenger hunts.

In the last few months, we have created a highly refined product. My brother and I, along with our ever-growing team, work tirelessly behind the scenes to enhance the scavenger hunt experience every day. The Let’s Roam app has a 4.9-star rating and 300-plus reviews.

In the coming year, we’ll be expanding into ghost hunts, food tours, and bar hunts while inspiring fellow travelers through our blog.

With the help of Olin, I’ve been able to pursue my passions, travel the world and build an ever-growing, fulfilling company. I don’t mean to brag. I want everyone studying at Olin to take get their degree and soar!

Pictured above: Founder Michael Harding, left, with brother Charlie Harding.


Panos Kouvelis

What are the components of your company’s supply chain? They might include inventory, transportation, access to labor, water, power, and other utilities. How resilient is your supply chain in a crisis? How much inventory do you have on hand and how quickly can you replenish it? Where is your labor staff, how soon can it mobilize, and how did the crisis affect them? Do you have back-up sources of electricity and water?

These and similar issues form the core of the figurative “Waffle House index,” taught to students by an Olin Business School professor and named years ago by a former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 2011.

The index refers to a clue into the level of devastation wrought by a natural disaster—disasters like Hurricane Florence, which made landfall at Wrightsville Beach, NC, early Friday morning. And Panos Kouvelis, director of Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation, says it makes sense.

“It’s very smart. This is a way to evaluate the situation with limited data,” Kouvelis said. “In times like this, demand goes up and supply goes down at the same time. But companies like Waffle House have good playbooks. They pre-position supplies, they make sure they know how to staff their stores. They know what inventory they have and what they don’t have. Their playbook makes sense. That’s the resilience that we talk about in supply chain management.”

First dubbed the “Waffle House Index” by former FEMA Director W. Craig Fugate after a devastating western Missouri tornado, the notion isn’t actually an index at all. There’s no “big board” available for public view, no place to gauge the status of the Waffle House chain.

But Kouvelis said that a quick look at Waffle Houses in the post-hurricane landscape—the aftermath the Carolinas face late this weekend or early next week—can provide a leading indicator of how badly the storm harmed the commercial infrastructure. Are the Waffle Houses open, serving full menus, and staffed? Other businesses are likely not far behind. Are the Waffle Houses staffed with skeleton crews and serving partial menus? The level of devastation is higher and recovery may take a few more days.

If the Waffle House is closed…well, buckle up. We’re probably in for a longer recovery period.

And it’s not just about Waffle House, which is heavily concentrated in the southeast, said Kouvelis, Olin’s Emerson Distinguished Professor of Operations and Manufacturing Management.

“Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart tend to be well prepared for these disasters because they have seen it many times in the past,” said Kouvelis, who teaches “supply chain risk management” using cases like Waffle House and similarly prepared companies. “It’s a smart part of their brand image: When you need us, we are there.”

Pictured above: A Waffle House in the Carolinas in 2013, via Flickr user “rpavich” used under Creative Commons license for commercial use.

Thirteen new faculty members have joined Olin in the past year in accounting, finance, operations, strategy, and marketing.

Tenure-track faculty

SETH CARNAHAN, Associate professor of strategy
PhD: Strategy, 2013, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Sanford R. Robertson Assistant Professor of Business Administration and Assistant Professor of Strategy at the University of Michigan
Research Interests: Firm strategy, entrepreneurship, and human capital; how competition for human capital affects firm performance; why individuals create startup firms

XIANG HUI, Assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2016, Ohio State University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Design of digital platforms and economics of digitization, how consumers’ experience with service providers on such platforms could be enhanced through platform policies and strategies that improve information or other aspects

MARYJANE RABIER, Assistant professor of accounting
PhD: Accounting, 2014, University of Maryland
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of accounting, McGill University
Research Interests: Recent research, “Value is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Relative Valuation Roles of Earnings and Book Value in Merger Pricing,” was published in the Accounting Review, Vol. 93, No. 1, 2018

Visiting professors

ABER ELSALEIBY, Visiting assistant professor of operations and manufacturing management
PhD: Manufacturing and technology management, 2015, University of Toledo
Prior to Olin: Lecturer of operations management, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Manufacturing and service operations management, healthcare operations management/analytics, supply chain network design

*ILIAS FILIPPOU, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2015, The University of Warwick
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of financial economics, Warwick Business School
Research Interests: Asset pricing, international finance, macro-finance

MENG LIU, Visiting assistant professor of marketing
PhD: Economics, 2015, Clemson University
Prior to Olin: Postdoctoral associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests: Auctions and mechanism design, specifically in the contexts of government procurement contracts; the emerging sharing economy of the digital era; The impact of Uber on the traditional taxi industry

Yaron Leitner, Visiting professor of finance
PhD: Finance, 2001, Northwestern University
Prior to Olin: Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia
Research Interests: Banking and financial institutions, information economics

ALESSIO SARETTO, Visiting assistant professor of finance
PhDs: Finance, 2006, University of California, Los Angeles; mathematical finance, 2002, University of Brescia
Prior to Olin: Assistant professor of finance and managerial economics, University of Texas at Dallas
Research Interests: Empirical asset pricing, capital structure, credit risk, and structured finance. Saretto has been published in Management Science, Review of Financial Studies, Journal of Fixed Income, and the Journal of Financial Markets

Professors of practice

PETER BOUMGARDEN, Professor of practice, organizational behavior
PhD: Organizational behavior/strategy, 2010, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: Associate professor of management, Hope College
Research Interests: Researches, consults and facilitates executive education in the private and nonprofit sectors on topics of innovation, corporate strategy, marketing strategy and leadership development. Clients include Herman Miller, Edward Jones, Charles Schwab, Oracle and others

JEREMY DEGENHART, Professor of practice, finance
BSBA: 2000, Washington University in St. Louis.
Prior to Olin: Adjunct professor of finance, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Global Impact Investing Network, Advantage Capital, Solar Energy Industries Association

TIMOTHY SOLBERG, Professor of practice, finance
MBA: 1982, University of Chicago
Prior to Olin: Olin faculty advisor and lecturer, Quinnipiac Global Asset Management Education Forum
Research Interests: Economic development, health economics, international economics, banking and financial institutions, corporate governance

MICHAEL WALL, Professor of practice, marketing
BA: 2001, Indiana University
Prior to Olin: Adjunct lecturer, Olin Business School
Research Interests: Innovation, digital marketing, leadership

Research scholar

DAVID SOVICH, postdoc for finance
PhD: Finance, 2018, Washington University in St. Louis
Prior to Olin: PhD intern, Equifax Inc.
Research Interests: Empirical household finance, real effects of financial markets

*Not pictured. Pictured above, from left, first row: Yaron Leitner, MaryJane Rabier, Alessio Saretto, Timothy Solberg, Seth Carnahan. Second row: Peter Boumgarden, Meng Liu, David Sovich, Aber Elsaleiby. Third row: Xiang Hui, Jeremy Degenhart, Michael Wall.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19, collaborated with Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19, on this post on behalf of the Graduate Business Student Association. Lu is president of the organization.

Class of 2019: Summer Catch-up Series No. 5

Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19

Ridhima Kaushal, MBA ’19

Olin’s full-time MBA program boasts 30 to 40 percent international students each cohort—and I’m one of them! For those who didn’t grow up in the States or with experience in US corporations, what’s it like to work in an American business environment for the first time? Ridhima Kaushal, who has worked both at home in India and in France, adds a new chapter to her cultural experiences this summer.

Where were you this summer?

Over the summer, I worked for the supply chain strategy department at Express Scripts. Contrary to general belief, supply chain at Express Scripts has less to do with logistics and drug fulfillment and more with the contracts that are set up for their clients—health insurance providers, corporations, etc.). These contracts are a part of the networks, also known as products at Express Scripts. Confused already?

One of the first challenges as an intern at Express Scripts was to understand the complicated business structure of the pharmacy benefit managers and the way the US healthcare industry functions.

So, what did you have to do?

Express Scripts has grown exponentially over the years and thus the processes can get complex and confusing very easily at this $53 billion firm. This is why my team charged me with the task of streamlining some of their processes and implementing efficiencies. I was a part of the product team and devised a SharePoint solution that integrated more than 2.5 million data points in a single place.

My project had an effect on three teams directly and gave the product owners an opportunity to gain a high-level picture on one front while being able to access the details on the other. During those 12 weeks, I worked with a wide variety of people from product owners to communication managers to IT experts, but one thing was common among all of them: their willingness to help and be approachable!

And how was it, aside from all the cool deliverables you just described?

My internship was an amazing way to discover what the American business culture is like. Apart from the kaffeeklatsches and the water-cooler clans, I got to experience the openness to authority that this culture encourages.

During the executive speaker series organized for the intern batch, I got a 30-minute one-on-one meeting with Everett Neville, the executive vice president of the supply chain department. The internship program also exposed us to a host of community efforts that the company engages in. From making cards for children in hospitals to volunteering at a nearby forest for clean-up, I’ve really experienced it all now with Express Scripts!

Sharon Mazimba, MBA ’19, wrote this on behalf of the Olin Africa Business Club.

Olin Business School this spring is launching its first ever Africa-focused course, “Africa Business Landscapes.” The idea for the course emerged when members of the newly formed Olin Africa Business Club—and, more specifically, OABC President Ony Mgbeahurike—noticed something missing from the curriculum: Africa.

Ony Mgbeahurike

Ony Mgbeahurike

The continent has seen major demographic changes, including a rising working age population, which continue to underlie mega-trends on the continent, availing African countries the opportunity to convert these changes into substantial demographic dividends and future economic growth.

Given the sheer population potential of more than 1 billion people aged 16-49 growing at 2.5 percent annually, and the rising African middle class, the continent is positioned to be a significant business destination from consumer, commercial, and labor perspectives.

Mgbeahurike felt future Olin students and potential global business leaders should be aware of and learn how to leverage such opportunities in their workplaces and their future business endeavors. Therefore, he enlisted the support of faculty, administration, and OABC board members toward introducing an Africa business course.

“The vision for this course started during the inception of the Olin Africa Business Club in fall 2017,” Mgbeahurike said. “Among our club objectives is to infuse Africa’s business literature into Olin’s curriculum, educating future leaders from WashU on the dynamic economies within Africa.”

The course dovetails nicely with Olin’s strategic plan, which includes a call to expand the global focus of students as they prepare for their careers.

Building support from faculty

Mgbeahurike further enlisted the support of David Meyer, senior lecturer in management, whose interests and research in international business and emerging markets made him a clear choice to teach the course.

David Meyer

David Meyer

“Approaching Dr. Meyer on designing and teaching this course wasn’t a hard sell,” Mgbeahurike said. “Dr. Meyer already teaches other courses on emerging markets, including Asian business networks, thus, I felt he’d be the best fit.”

He said the pair worked on the Africa Business Landscape course by reviewing Africa’s vibrant business sectors and gathering feedback from graduate students about what their business interests in Africa would be. The result was a 1.5 credit elective that will be offered in spring 2019.

“This course will join a select few business schools in the United States to offer such a learning opportunity,” Meyer said. “This positions Olin Business School as a contributor to this emerging opportunity for business in Africa.”

Interactive approach

The course will be intensively interactive, focusing on conceptual frameworks across business sectors such as finance, manufacturing, technology, agriculture, natural resources, retail, and tourism.

“These business opportunities will be framed in the context of political change, the legacy of colonialism, urbanization, and trends in transportation and communication infrastructure development,” Meyer said.

Daniel Elfenbein, a member of the academic committee that approved the course, agreed, noting that the time is right to develop a deeper understanding of the historical factors that shaped the business climate in Africa.

“Ony and Professor Meyer brought the committee a great proposal,” said Elfenbein, associate professor of strategy. “Although the continent is comprised of more than 50 countries, Africa can as a whole can be understood as a key emerging market with a population on the order of India or China.”

The OABC was formed early fall 2017 and consists of current second-year MBA students: Ony Mgbeahurike (President), Matilda Thomas (VP Alumni Relations), Sharon Mazimba (VP Events), Chioma Ukeje (VP Finance), and Eric Onteri (VP Communications). The club seeks to promote Africa among all aspects of the business school through events, career opportunities for African students, growing African student enrollment, and hosting an African business forum — the first of which took place in March 2018.

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