Tag: Full-time MBA

WashU Olin shot up 17 spots in the latest Bloomberg Businessweek MBA ranking released on September 15. Olin was ranked 21st, largely on the strength of improvements in post-graduate MBA compensation figures and the learning, networking and entrepreneurship dimensions of the survey.

The ranking also recognized Olin’s strength in entrepreneurship, where the school ranked third—a marked increase from its 54th-place ranking for that dimension in 2019 on the heels of three consecutive No. 1 rankings for MBA entrepreneurship by Poets & Quants.

WashU Olin last participated in Bloomberg’s ranking in 2019, before the pandemic. The publication canceled its 2020 ranking because of the pandemic; Olin opted not to participate in 2021. Bloomberg’s “Best B-Schools” ranking is based predominantly on student, alumni and employer surveys.

Those surveys are supplemented by school-provided data on student diversity for the diversity index and employment data used in its compensation index, which also includes alumni salaries. 

WashU Olin showed improvement across the board in the ranking, with particular strength in learning, networking and entrepreneurship. The diversity index is a new component of the ranking this year. Olin ranked 29th in that dimension.

“I’m gratified to see the continued hard work and dedication of Olin’s students, faculty and staff recognized with the improvement in this key ranking,” said Anjan Thakor, Olin’s interim dean. “We don’t chase rankings, but we’re always thrilled when they affirm what we know is great about Olin’s programs.”

Bloomberg’s compensation index factors in median compensation figures for graduating students and alumni and signing bonus data, as well as the percentage of students employed within three months of graduation.

“The experiential learning aspect of the program coupled with a class size which makes it easy to have engagement and forge alliances,” one student said in the survey. Another said, “Learning from some of the best academicians in the country. Diverse and collaborative culture. Strong emphasis on critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership skills.”

In its surveys of students, recruiters and alumni, Bloomberg asks what was most important to them across a dozen options including “increase my earnings potential,” “build my professional network” and “learn how to start or develop a business.” The publication spells out its methodology here.

Destiny Davis, MSW/MBA

Next in a series of Olin Blog features on recent alumni.

Destiny Davis, MSW/MBA ’20, works for a consulting firm in Chicago that helps businesses build their strategy for philanthropic giving and support. She finds she often hears from prospective WashU students through LinkedIn, and thus serves as an informal ambassador for the university and the business school.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I work for a consulting company called Mission Measurement, based out of Chicago, where I help corporations and governments build effective strategies for their philanthropic portfolios and work to measure the impact of their philanthropic dollars through outcomes measurement.

Olin provided me the opportunity to understand how corporations operate and make strategic decisions. Working within social impact helps me to understand how consumer demand is impacting a company’s intentional commitment to societal change. Whether that be allocating resources to organizations/local charities or procuring their products with sustainable materials, the idea of corporate social responsibility and ESG [Environmental, Social and Governance] has become a bigger priority within the last few years in business.

As our world continues to shift, I believe the demand for intentional corporate social responsibility practices will be more fundamental.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

A big impactful “defining moment” at Olin was my experience working with the Center for Experiential Learning and helping a local entrepreneur, Kacie Starr Long, build her social enterprise, Sew Hope.

The heart of Sew Hope was to create a space for women to learn how to sew, quilt and craft, which, as a result, would give the opportunity for high-end dresses and faith-based goods to be sold. It was a great opportunity to bridge my heart for social impact and business together by helping a St. Louis native think about her overall target audience, channels for distribution and business structure that would inevitably be sustainable in the long term.

As a result, I’m happy to share to Kacie Starr Long officially launched her Sew Hope Community Sewing Room in January 2022.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?

Many of my Olin classmates immediately became family while at Olin; therefore, we try our best to stay connected and visit each other when we can. Whether I’m going back home to Dallas or here in Chicago, I try and make it a priority to spend time with my Olin family with dinner or happy hour.

Outside of that, many prospective students reach out to me via LinkedIn, and I am always willing to share about my experience at Olin and resources that I found helpful while attending. Lastly, being a member of the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management keeps me connected to individuals that I met while at Olin from other schools within the CGSM network.

Why is business education important?

Business education is a priority because it helps to give perspective and understanding around priorities of stakeholders and how business decisions impact our world and economy.

Whether you are a small business owner or an MBA looking to climb the corporate ladder, the basic foundational principles such as marketing/sales generation, accounting or building out the best strategy can help bring success no matter the goal.

What advice would you give current Olin students?

I would tell them not to be afraid to set their own path. I started at Olin knowing that I would not be taking the traditional route of an MBA given my background in social work. I was dedicated to tailoring my experience at Olin to fit my needs as a student and actively sought out opportunities that spoke to my desired path.

Likewise, two years in business school can go by very quickly; therefore, immerse yourself in the experience and make it all you can. Get active within the Center for Experiential Learning, build intentional relationships with your classmates, join a club and be willing to pioneer opportunities that you may not see at Olin.

How has the pandemic influenced your thinking about doing business locally or globally—or your career?

The rise of COVID-19 has shifted my social impact perspective around health equity and the lack thereof—both locally and globally. In my everyday work, I get a glimpse into how corporate funders are thinking through their philanthropy and overall impact.

Many have intentionally responded to the crisis, but others have not, and it makes me continually think of the role that corporations have in driving societal change. We know that social responsibility is no longer optional, given that consumers are more willing to buy from a company that is having some type of intentional societal impact, whether that be internally or externally.

However, the pandemic really tested companies’ commitment to that corporate social responsibility. Many individuals lost their jobs and communities were disproportionately affected during the pandemic, and it was an opportunity for companies to make good on their social impact marketing and commitments.

As a result, I believe there are ongoing continuous ways for companies and foundations to respond and be creative in helping their stakeholders through this ongoing crisis.

Ray Wagner, MBA

Next in a series of Olin Blog features on recent alumni.

Ray Wagner, MBA ’21, was among the first Olin MBA students to participate in the then-new global immersion, a three-continent excursion into global business at the top of the program. Today, he’s a senior consultant with World Wide Technology.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I work at World Wide Technology as a senior consultant in our business and analytics advisors practice. The BAA practice is World Wide Technology’s management consulting division. We partner with clients, as a value-added resource, around the world and across all industries. We think of ourselves as trusted advisers, that advise businesses on how to leverage technology and data in a way that meets the client’s business needs and objectives.

My Olin education played a big role in my career choice and subsequent career. From the beginning of my time at Olin, we were taught to be “values-based, data-driven” business leaders. As a senior consultant at World Wide Technology, I practice being a “values-based, data-driven” leader everyday. The curriculum at Olin—taught by a world-class faculty—groomed me to identify, structure and navigate the continual onslaught of competing business priorities in a clear, objective and impactful manner.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

I think life is comprised of numerous defining moments—and that was certainly the case during my time at Olin. I had numerous positive experiences, from the inaugural global immersion to the revamped curriculum in the classroom ( … and even beating Andrew Knight in the 2019 Olin Chili cook-off).

However, my most defining moment at Olin was when the world went on COVID lockdown following spring break of my first year. At the time, Olin already felt like a “family” to me, but when the classes moved to a virtual platform, the “family” feel was magnified tenfold.

The adaptability, professionalism and genuine care for one another that classmates, faculty and staff displayed—in the face of such uncertainty—was second to none. I remember joining the Zoom call for my first remote class and thinking, “How am I going to do this with my 2-year-old daughter while my pregnant wife worked on the frontlines as a nurse practitioner in a local hospital?”

The answer presented itself very quickly. I did it through the love, grace and understanding of the Olin family. Peers, faculty and staff understood that my daughter was going to make a regular cameo on camera in class. They understood my attention and priorities were going to be sidetracked every so often.

However, they still invested in me and helped me succeed. This defining moment helped me realize the power of empathy—which, I believe, is one of the key traits an effective values-based business leader must display.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your classmates and friends?

As mentioned, I consider the Olin community to be family. This makes staying connected through numerous ways not only easy, but enjoyable. The most effective way for me to stay connected is checking in through a text or phone call. I enjoy scrolling through LinkedIn and seeing all the impressive successes of my classmates and fellow Olin graduates.

I also try to help out in any capacity, whether it be by attending Admit Weekend as an alumni representative, speaking on panels, staying plugged into the Olin Veteran Association, or recruiting Olin MBAs for consulting services at World Wide Technology.

Why is business education important?

For me, a business education allowed me to build a better business understanding and acumen that I didn’t gain through my post-undergrad experience. Following my graduation from the US Military Academy, I served over eight years as an active duty infantry officer in the US Army. It was a natural transition to leave the Army and attend business school before entering the private sector.

That being said, after my Olin experience, I realized it was more than just learning the basic business language. Business education is more important than ever in today’s world. It affords students the opportunity to critically think about complicated issues that span across all businesses and all industries. Moreover, it allows students to learn from the success or failures of businesses highlighted in the numerous case studies.

Lastly, a business education helps students develop the critical decision-making skills and values-based/data-driven logic needed to make meaningful choices in their follow-on business careers.

What advice would you give current Olin students?

I think the best advice I can give is listen to and learn from your classmates. I believe you learn just as much, if not more, from your classmates, as you do from the faculty or a case study. The diversity of the Olin cohort provides some of the most unique perspectives and peer learning opportunities in the classroom. If you listen to understand, you will grow tremendously—not only as a business leader, but as a person.

Did the pandemic influence your thinking about global business or your career?

In my view, the pandemic upended a lot in our world and to sum it up, there is no such thing as “normal” anymore. I think in terms of doing business (locally or globally), it accentuated the importance of being dynamic, adaptable and empathetic.

For instance, different geographic areas may or may not have different business practices based on regulations or attitudes toward the pandemic that must be considered.

Furthermore, the workforce has changed significantly. There are more remote and hybrid working models in the business world that have significantly changed how business is conducted, and that is something that has to be accounted for on a daily basis.

As far as my career, I don’t think much has changed. I still have the same goals and ambitions I had pre-pandemic. How I achieve those may be a little different, but at the foundation—strong values, unrelenting work ethic, grit and determination—nothing has changed.

So, you’re thinking about getting an MBA. You’re worried you may not have enough work experience to meet MBA degree requirements or succeed in an MBA program. You’re wondering what you can do to make your application stronger and maximize your experiences in school. 

The secret? There’s not just one kind of student who succeeds in an MBA program. Knowing your personal “why” behind wanting your degree, being intentional in choosing meaningful experiences, and articulating those with maturity and introspection can help you be that student—no matter how much work experience you have.

How much work experience do you need to successfully apply to business school?

There’s no magic number that admissions committees are looking for when it comes to years of work experience for an MBA. Experience in the workplace will certainly benefit any MBA student; in fact, we typically see students with around five years of work experience. Often, those students have been in a working role and they’ve realized that they need specific skill sets to advance in their careers or to pivot in another direction. The MBA is the perfect way to accomplish that.

But can you get an MBA without work experience? The answer is yes.

While work experience is certainly valuable, no specific number of years guarantees an application’s success. What admissions committees are most concerned with is your ability to contribute to the classroom experience and get the most out of your MBA. To do that, students without previous work experience or a specific entrepreneurial goal in mind need to know their “why.”

Admissions committees want to see you articulate exactly why you want to be a part of their program and what you plan to get out of it. What benefits will your MBA bring to your life? How will it help you achieve your professional goals? What benefits will you bring to their program? Instead of just saying “I’ve always wanted to know more about business,” your reasoning really needs to be clear and solidified. Most of all, your “why” should be personal and show that you’ve been deeply reflective on meaningful experiences in your life or gaps in your knowledge.

What other factors help MBA students succeed?

Whether you’re applying or already working on your degree, knowing your why and targeting your experiences will ultimately benefit you in the long run. From taking specific classes that will help improve hard or soft skills to taking those opportunities outside the classroom to network, there is much a student can do to get ahead.

Extracurricular activities are a great way to diversify and build your skills and goals. Join clubs, go to seminars on and off campus and build meaningful relationships with your peers and professionals.

Your classmates are your support system for these two years, and many will likely be of some benefit to you in the future.

Having that openness to exploration—whether that be companies, industries, or networking—will help you take advantage of the experiential learning opportunities around you.

While you’re joining clubs and taking classes, remember to also volunteer to take on leadership opportunities in those forums. Whether on or off campus, leadership roles will allow you to work on people-management skills, develop networking opportunities and engage with diverse groups of people—all things you can leverage as you’re applying for an MBA or looking for internships.

Ultimately, who gets the most out of their MBA?

Students who are coming into MBA programs with work experience usually know some of their professional gaps and strengths. Maybe they’ve been through a few annual reviews or gotten a promotion or two. Most pursue an MBA wanting to contribute as much as they take away from the MBA program.

These students have specific goals, whether that be developing soft skills like management and teamwork or hard skills like data mining and forecasting. Being able to target these areas can help you maximize those strengths and develop other areas for growth.

Often, MBA students without work experience don’t have the confidence to know that they do have something to contribute. A simple but critical first step for students is to realize that you have valuable insights to share, such as professionally developed skills or other meaningful experiences. Classmates should be just as much of a resource to each other as the professors standing at the front of the classroom.

You should also be intentional about how you reflect on and articulate those contributions. As you go through the application process, include stories and anecdotes about your experiences and accomplishments in your essays. You need to be able to reflect on specific experiences and draw from those when you’re interviewing for admissions, internships and full-time employment offers.

Ultimately, there’s no work experience “required” for an MBA student to be successful at Olin Business School. Each student, regardless of work or lived experience, brings unique contexts, skills and ideas to their MBA program. Once you learn to leverage those traits by being intentional, knowing your “why,” and articulating that with clarity and reflection, the sky is the limit.

Members of the MBA class of 2024 on the floor of the Kingston Family Vineyards wine production facility during their tour outside of Santiago, Chile.

WashU Olin’s first-year MBA students have returned to St. Louis for the first time since leaving on their global immersion July 10—but not before touring a Chilean winery with a markedly contrasting business model than what they encountered in Spain. Plus, they presented operational recommendations for three other businesses.

The 2022 global immersion—conducted as designed for only the second time, and the first since the pandemic—drew to a close as students made their way back to St. Louis on August 22. The program was launched in 2019 and gained immediate positive attention for its novel (and, of course, immersive) approach to instilling global business awareness to first-year MBA students.

The view from the Kingston Family Vineyards headquarters overlooking its vineyard and the Casablanca Valley.

The excursion carried the entire cohort from St. Louis to Washington, DC, then to Barcelona and Paris, and finally to Santiago, Chile, where student groups dissected the business operations of three companies and examined a winery and vineyard 90 minutes outside of Santiago in Chile’s lush Casablanca valley.

Weeks earlier, the students had done project work related to two wineries near Barcelona—businesses that market their wines to consumers through their distributor networks. In Chile, Kingston Family Vineyards presented a contrast.

Nashad Carrington, MBA ’24, exploring the grapevines during the class’ tour at Kingston Family Vineyards.

The small family-owned businesses indeed produces its own vintages of five different wines—Merlot, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah—but that’s not where it focuses its business. The wines themselves are essentially proof of the quality of the grapes the vineyard produces. And that’s the core of the business: selling grapes to other wine producers.

“We needed to make some wine to show the case, then sell the grapes,” said Jose Ignacio, a tour manager who guided students through the vineyards themselves, then into the wine cellar and production facilities. The business began decades ago when members of the US-based Kingston family came to Chile in search of gold and later pivoted into the dairy industry, which a branch of the family still operates.

After their tour, the students gathered in an airy dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the vineyards and the valley beyond. CEO Courtney Kingston was in the states dropping off a child at school and joined by Zoom for a brief presentation and Q&A session with the students.

CEO Courtney Kingston answering questions for the MBA students.

Students asked about potential synergies between the dairy and the winery sides of the business, how they market their grapes and what techniques they use to make the business environmentally sustainable.

The Kingston Vineyard hosts followed the Q&A session with a four-course meal that included grilled salmon, beef tartar and tres leche with ice cream.

The next day, students dug into their operations presentation for the three companies the students had visited six days earlier—Reborn Electric Motors, a 2-year-old startup that refits diesel buses with electric motors; Market People, a platform for selling curated, second-hand luxury garments; and Ignisterra, a manufacturer of wooden components such as doors with a global customer base.

They presented their work on Friday, August 19, the last day of formal classes during the three-continent global business excursion.

Pictured above: Members of the MBA class of 2024 on the floor of the Kingston Family Vineyards wine production facility during their tour outside of Santiago, Chile.