Tag: Full-time MBA



During unprecedented times, the WashU Olin community is coming together as the community we truly are. Though students, faculty and staff span across the city, the country and even the world, setting up virtual study spaces everywhere from New York to India, we’re working to maintain that sense of community, collaboration and friendship that defines the WashU Olin experience.

As virtual classes started this Monday, March 23, students and faculty took the time to document their classroom “views” for the Olin blog.

Doug Villhard, professor of entrepreneurship, asked students to share what their “study spaces” look like.

Top row, left to right: Kaila Pederson (MBA ’21) confronts the challenge of a small space and embraces innovation to create a desk; Marguerite Whitelaw (MBA ’21).


Bottom row, left to right: Lexi Lessaris (MBA ’21) and her co-worker Lola; Ellen Kenzora (MBA ’21).

Students and faculty also shared moments from their virtual classroom spaces and team meetings on Zoom.

Left column, top to bottom: Tom Fields’ Strategic Cost Analysis class, submitted by Nitish Yadav (MBA ’21); EMBA 54’s first virtual class, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, taught by Nick Argyres; Barton Hamilton’s Compensation, Incentives and Organizing, submitted by Nidhi Kandari (MBA ’21).


Right column: Peter Boumgarden, professor of practice, strategy and organizations, teaches a group of undergraduates.

Teams and student groups won’t let distance stop them from getting great things done.

CEL practicum team works on a project for Midwest Bank Center.

From left to right, top to bottom: Hannah Levin, Lael Bialek, Bruno Moreira Yamamura, Lin Xie, Frankie Hong, Chris Colon (not pictured).

The Graduate Business Student Association’s incoming leadership team holds their first meeting.

Top row: Ellen Kenzora, Kendra Kelly, Shivani Jain

Middle row: Raphael Kodjoe, Nidhi Kandari, Dolapo Ojutiku

Bottom row: Gina Wang

Not pictured:  Gaurav Gupta

And staff and faculty have shared their new personal workspaces.

From left to right
Row 1: Brooke Van Groningen (Assistant Brand Manager, Marketing & Communications), Ashley Macrander (Assistant Dean & Director of Student Affairs),

Row 2: Todd Milbourn (Vice Dean of Faculty & Research); Glenn MacDonald (Professor of Economics & Strategy), Allison Dietz (WCC Employer Relations Lead),

Row 3: Dorothy Kittner (WCC Associate Director & Dean of Business Relations) Paige LaRose (Director of Undergraduate Programs), Amy VanEssendelft (CEL Senior Program Manager),

Row 4: Heather Cameron (Professor of Practice, in Berlin), Molly Cruitt (Social Media Strategist, Marketing & Communications), Jodi Heen (Faculty Support).

Though we are far apart now, WashU Olin remains together as a community. We can’t wait for our students, faculty and staff to be on one campus once again. Until then, a virtual cheers and best wishes for a great semester.




Tom and his wife, Erin, at an Olin event. They have two boys: Benjamin, 3, and Gabriel, 18 months.

WashU Olin students should know: Tom Russell, MBA ’15, is a recruiting rock star for those who follow him into the full-time MBA program. In his roles at Anheuser-Busch, he’s hired numerous Olin students for internships and full-time positions. In fact, he just recently sent a request to have Olin students check out six new positions at the beermaker.

Meanwhile, he’s been promoted four times since starting four years ago, serving now as a senior director “reporting directly to our North America CFO, responsible for managing all of our technology operational expenditures and capital expenditures, as well as our technology excellence program.”

That follows nearly four years of service in the US Army in a variety of leadership positions—including combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

We caught up with Tom to ask a few questions about how his Olin experience has translated to a career at Anheuser-Busch and how it helped him transition from military to civilian leadership.

In what ways are you using data to make business decisions?

Every decision I make at Anheuser Busch involves data; however, data alone does not always tell the complete story—I layer in qualitative analysis to round out the story in an effort to make the most optimal decision. Specifically, in my current role, I am responsible for managing all of our technology OPEX and CAPEX spending in North America so the majority of my data is financial data.

How did your experience at Olin prepare you for that?

My experience at Olin definitely prepared me well for my career at Anheuser Busch—the core curriculum provided me with a strong foundation in areas such as finance, accounting, critical thinking, statistics and corporate strategy—I have deployed the skills and knowledge I learned in each of these courses throughout my four years at ABI. In addition, in my second year, I focused heavily on finance and analytics—it was great to be able to have the flexibility in the curriculum to concentrate in this way.

How do you leverage your principles, or those of your organization, in weighing the data?

One of our principles at A-B is that we manage costs tightly—this means that we put an immense amount of effort into our budgeting and financial reporting processes. Robust financial management, accounting and reporting are crucial to our cost-connect-win strategy. This cost-conscious, ownership mindset provides the foundation for how I think about our financials and all of the decisions I make.

As a military veteran, did you have experience around the world? Do you view yourself as a global business leader? In what ways?

I did have experience around the world—I served combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and also spent a summer in Germany as part of our training curriculum when I was a cadet at West Point. I do view myself as a global business leader—we are a global company, and I routinely interact with my colleagues in South America, Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia, to include routine trips to those parts of the world.

Pictured above: Tom and his wife, Erin, at an Olin event. They have two boys: Benjamin, 3, and Gabriel, 18 months.




Ben Dalton, MBA ’20, is an 11-year US Army veteran and lives with his wife and two children in Ballwin, Missouri.

Ben Dalton

Last week, in my final semester for an MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University here in St. Louis, I was supposed to be in Barcelona.

Three days before our departure, the trip was cancelled due to the global pandemic of COVID-19. When the class was cancelled, the fantastic staff and faculty at WashU utilized their networks and worked hard to provide an option for those students who needed the class to graduate on time.

Network contacts included Gerard Craft (Niche Food Group), Kevin and Chris Nashan (Peacemaker Lobster & Crab, Sidney Street Café), Chris Kelling (Elmwood) and JiaMin Dierberg (Hermannhof Winery). Charlie Downs and Dave Molina (Sugarfire) as well as Jason Bockman (Strange Donuts) previously prepared students for their trip to Shanghai, China, before the class was cancelled.

Businesses helped students finish coursework

These amazing local restaurateurs and hospitality hosts took time out of their businesses to help us understand what it took to run a business as well as wine distributor operations from different places in the value chain. This class was enjoyable for all students who opted to remain in St. Louis and complete the coursework, thanks largely to those local business owners who brought their expertise to our classroom.

A week later, guidance has been given to close these same businesses due to the global pandemic. Gerard Craft closed all locations (except Cinder House) immediately and complied with the plea for social distancing prior to any mandate, including not allowing pick up or delivery options because it would endanger his staff. Elmwood and Peacemaker dining rooms closed Thursday, and it sounds like pick up orders are still available.

Around the country, hourly workers for large sporting venues are getting help from the professional athletes and ownership. We need the same kind of help from our local community. Our local food scene is getting stronger with every new restaurant, and the community of small businesses seems to support and collaborate to the benefit of many St. Louis people.

Strange Donuts

Last year, I helped write a case study about Strange Donuts as they were supporting WashU with another learning objective and met some of the awesome people that work there as well. These are not people who make tons of money or could not work for a few months. While some of these businesses may be around in a few weeks, the livelihoods of many of their workers will not. Some options available include emergency unemployment benefits, elimination of payroll tax, and rent abatement for impacted workers.

Meanwhile, I hope you’ll contribute to the Gateway Resilience Fund, set up to provide short-term monetary relief to employees and owners of independent bars, restaurants and shops in the St. Louis area affected by closures and other circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Photo: On March 9, Olin MBA students visited the Tin Mill Brewing Company in Hermann.




Ryan Richt, MBA

WashU Olin alumni have continued to benefit from their membership in the community many years after leaving campus. This is part of an occasional series of vignettes about the alumni experience. Today, we hear from Ryan Richt, , AB ’08/MBA ’08, founder and CEO, Well Principled

When we meet Ryan Richt, he’s wearing a button-down dress shirt that belies his serious love for data: It’s a design featuring subtly rendered QR codes, which, when scanned, launch the garment maker’s website. Since leaving Olin just over a decade ago, he’s applied that love of data and his business savvy to start two companies—thanks, in part, to an ongoing relationship with WashU Olin faculty mentor Anne Marie Knott.

“We’ve probably had dinner once a month for 10 years since I graduated,” he said. “I used her book to start my first company.”

That relationship continues today. Knott, the Robert and Barbara Frick Professor of Business in Olin Business School, is an investor and chairs the science advisory board for Well Principled, Richt’s year-old startup. His firm leverages artificial intelligence to apply state-of-the-art business research to real-world problems.

In Richt’s model, his company creates “virtual business consultants” that meld a firm’s data—perhaps marketing information or pricing data—with the accumulated knowledge of 30 years of operations research. The consultants automate decision-making based on the firm’s goals.

“It is real work to go through the threads of research and read the back-and-forth between researchers,” Richt said. “Anne Marie and the scientific advisory board help us with that.”

Stay in touch.

Center for Experiential Learning

Business Development

  • Dorothy Kittner, MBA ’94, associate dean and director of business development and corporate relations 314-935-6365 | kittner@wustl.edu

Alumni & Development

Weston Career Center

Executive Education

  • Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and professor of practice in leadership 202-797-6000 | beank@wustl.edu



Preston Tharp, MBA

This was posted on behalf of team lead Franklyn Nnakwue and his teammates Prateek Deval, Ryan Sun, Aria Ren, Amy Yu and Cathy Wang.

As a group of MBAs and specialized master students at Olin Business School, we worked on one of the most challenging analytics projects. Our client, Direct Supply, has a long relationship with Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning and Center for Analytics and Business Insights.

Direct Supply is a company that specializes in providing equipment, e-commerce, and service solutions to the senior living industry. With 35 years of history, it has many customers. For this project, we focused on the business’s products. Our goal was to leverage data to draw insights that Direct Supply could use to improve customer experience and operational performance.

Field trip to Direct Supply

To better understand Direct Supply’s business model, the team went on a one-day field trip to Milwaukee, where Direct Supply is located. After the interaction with the sales team, marketing team, data science team and supply chain team, we had a more robust understanding of the business and the ways our project could be transformative

We also understood that the project is not solely about writing code and answering the questions, but also about testing the viability of our recommendations.

Real-world challenge and timely adjustment

As we dug deeper into the project, we found that the initial hypothesis that we were working with wasn’t feasible. “Welcome to the real world,” said our professor, Seethu Seetharaman. As we sought to pivot our analysis, Professor Seethu and Professor Michael Wall offered us a lot of help in redefining the questions and finding other approaches to solving the problem. We finally figured out an alternative approach that could fulfill Direct Supply’s initial goal.

Projects won’t always go smoothly as planned, and challenges would always appear along the journey. The faculty advisors, CEL committee and CEL fellow were helpful in ensuring that the team was on the right track.

This was a precious experience for the team. The project offered us a great opportunity to get involved in solving real-world business problems. It was definitely the highlight of our academic experience at WashU.

Pictured at top: A client representative; Preston Tharp, MBA ’20; Nithin Ramachandran, client; Aria Ren, MSCA ’19; Franklyn Nnakwue, MBA ’20; Cathy Wang, MSCA ’19; Ryan Sun, MSCA ’19; Amy Yu, MSCA ’19; Michael Wall, CEL/CABI faculty adviser; Prateek Deval, MBA ’20; Seethu Seetharman, CEL/CABI faculty adviser.