Tag: Full-time MBA



Bryanna Brown

Bryanna Brown, MBA ’22, wrote this blog post. At Olin’s Diversity and Women’s Weekend, she spoke as a fellow with the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management during the session “Infusing Your Story into the Application Process.”

For a prospective MBA candidate, interacting with the faculty, staff and students can be a pivotal opportunity when deciding if an MBA program is the right fit. In November 2019, I was a prospective student at Olin’s Diversity and Women’s Weekend, seeing the culture of Olin up close and personal. This experience truly gave me a window into what life at Olin would be like as an MBA candidate. 

In 2020, Olin was tasked with producing the same window for prospective students through a virtual experience. Where missteps could have been made, the Olin admissions staff went above and beyond to ensure each interaction, session and detail was rooted in excellence.

From sending personalized boxes to participants, to choosing a virtual conference platform that allowed for unique tags, to even starting the day with yoga, the Diversity and Women’s Weekend committee prioritized details that were specific to the tailored experience a prospective student would receive at Olin. 

As I reflect back on how it felt to be a part of Olin’s first virtual Diversity and Women’s Weekend in December, I recognized four key takeaways. It was apparent throughout the weekend that Olin does the following: 

Prepares MBAs for a truly global career.

The weekend started with second-year MBAs students Tyler Edwards, Kendra Kelly and Ellen Kenzora speaking to being a part of the first entire cohort to experience the Global Immersion in the “Globally Minded and Culturally Fluent in 39 Days” session. The session reiterated Olin’s commitment to global education. 

Champions intentional identity work.

The “Understanding Bias + How It Can Influence Your Perspective” session led by Tabari Coleman, director of professional development at the Anti-Defamation League, highlighted the nature of inherent bias and how to continuously use self-reflection as a point of growth professionally and personally.   

Supports prospective students holistically.

The “Infusing Your Story into the Application Process” session provided insight into how admission and membership decisions are made. Prospective students heard from a wide range of student representatives from Olin’s partnership organizations, like the Consortium at Olin and Olin Reaching Out MBA, who described first-hand experiences and gave helpful hints to craft the strongest story in an application.

Centers community at every stage of your MBA journey.

The strong Olin alumni voice from Brenna Humphries, Molly Goldstein, Cambrie Nelson, Gheremey Edwards and Oscar Vasco in “Stories from the Past that Inform Our Future” solidified that students at Olin are proud, active participants during and after their two years in the MBA program. 


When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting St. Louis-based businesses. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Nick Mueller, BSBA ’22, who acted as team lead working with GO! St. Louis.

Tell us about your summer project.

I worked with three other students as team lead for GO! St. Louis, a nonprofit running organization that promotes health and fitness in the St. Louis area by hosting running events such as marathons, half-marathons, 10K races, 5K, races, etc. as well as some biking and hiking events.  We worked to mitigate the detrimental effects of COVID-19 on our organization’s ability to continue its operations. 

In what ways has this CEL experience been helpful in applying your education or sharpening your skills?

This CEL experience gave me the opportunity to lead a team of my peers through a professional yet low-stress consulting engagement. We worked closely with a faculty member who provided feedback throughout the project, but gave us a great deal of discretion in how we approach it.  This freedom replicated the independence of a post-graduation consulting job and forced me to apply my own education and creativity, while the guidance I received helped me discover and improve upon my weaknesses. As a result, I emerged from each task as a more confident and competent consultant. 

What was a “day in the life” of this CEL program?

Each week began with a class on Monday and a check-in with our faculty advisor on Tuesday.  During this check-in, we discussed our objectives for the week and how we would accomplish them.  For the remainder of the week, the student team worked on our own doing research, crafting messages, meeting with experts (runners, PR specialists, etc.), completing our deliverables, and other required tasks.  During this time, we typically met about once day, and we were always allowed to contact our faculty member for questions or assistance.  On Sundays, we submitted a weekly update that outlined what we accomplished that week and what we hoped to do next week. 

What was it like working with a real-world client?

We met with our client on Zoom every two weeks and communicated via email or text whenever necessary.  Our Zoom meetings included our faculty member as well, who gave us feedback after the meeting.  Faculty feedback on client meetings was especially helpful in teaching me the professional courtesies and leadership skills that display confidence and competence in a business setting. It really taught me how to how to deal with a client, how to lead meetings both with a student team and with clients.

We speak of Olin as a values-based, data-driven business school. Have you seen that in action?

Absolutely.  Both clients I have worked with through the CEL have had a precise mission.  My first client promoted literacy among African American children and positive images of African American culture.  My second client was focused on promoting fitness, health, and exercise in the St. Louis community – a mission complicated by COVID-19, but more critical than ever in the wake of social distancing and people becoming more reclusive.  The Center for Experiential Learning chooses its partnerships carefully, and I believe the missions of these organizations reflect the values of Olin Business School, such as social reform and community engagement. 

The faculty in this program have placed strong emphasis on the importance of using data to formulate and justify recommendations. Furthermore, our Monday classes typically feature guest speakers and our most recent class was led by a panel of business analysts who gave a lesson on data visualization and communication. 

What surprised you about the experience?

I was surprised by the way we were able to do it all virtually without any problems. When the summer came around, I believe there was a good deal of skepticism regarding how feasible this would really be, to do a project like this all over Zoom. But I was pleasantly surprised by how it all turned out. And I think that the faculty, as well as the students, did a great job in pivoting and being flexible with everything.




Michael Femi Vianana, MBA ’21

Femi Vianana, MBA ’21, writes today about his internship—and four projects—at his “virtual” Microsoft internship. He was invited to return after graduation as a business program manager. His contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences on the Olin Blog.

My internship journey began a few weeks before the internship itself, amidst immense pressure and uncertainty. In the early days of the pandemic that rocked the world, there was speculation about the US government suspending all work authorization for non-citizens in a bid to protect jobs amid massive unemployment.

As an international student, that meant my entire internship with Microsoft could be cancelled as a result of such policy. Luckily for me, that never happened, and I had the full support of Olin through that tough phase.

I had always planned to brush up on some of my technical skills months before the internship to hit the ground running, but I never got around to doing that. Instead, I started my internship much earlier than most of my classmates, still feeling stressed out from a very challenging semester.

A slight bump in the road

Nonetheless, I was energized to hit the ground running once I started working. But as with many things in life, reality does not often match expectation, especially with COVID-19 ensuring a virtual experience.

Out of the gate, my work laptop shipment was delayed, finally arriving in the third week. My password didn’t work for the first three days, meaning I had no access to my emails and couldn’t really get any work done. After the hiccups of the first week, I was able to get my feet wet.

What turned out to be most surprising was the level of importance attached to the projects I was assigned. For a second, I felt I was way out of my league, but thanks to the guidance of my superb manager, I gradually embraced my role and how much value I could potentially add to the organization.

Interestingly, I was assigned to work on four projects in the 12 weeks of the internship, twice the number of projects assigned to most of the MBA interns I had the opportunity to interact with. That meant putting in a lot of hours, especially in the early stages when I was desperate to gain context.

Broad exposure to the organization

On the flip side, it also gave me exposure to a lot of teams and people across the organization, which in turn gave me the opportunity to establish connections that lasted beyond the completion of my internship.

Furthermore, the breadth of tasks involved in executing my projects—from contract reviews to financial due diligence to project management—ensured that I leaned heavily on the values-based and data-driven approach taught by Olin.

This was pivotal to my success. Every strategy employed by Microsoft was greatly rooted on their foundational values, while their approach for problem solving used data to proffer lasting solutions.

In conclusion, I had a very pleasant internship experience, not only because I got a return offer, but because my long-term career goals of building human capacity aligned with my role within Microsoft’s Worldwide Learning Org—and I’m glad that Olin had a great role to play in my story.




Lloyd Yates, MBA ’22, knew in high school that he wanted to be an entrepreneur.

“It stemmed from my father,” a physician who went into private practice and also started opening other businesses, he said. Yates saw his father succeed not only for their family, but also for others.

“If I could create some jobs, I think it would be a very fulfilling feeling for me,” he said.

Yates was one of four Olin students and alumni who participated in a roundtable discussion on October 27, when Poets & Quants announced that, for the second year in a row, Olin claimed the top spot as the best MBA program for entrepreneurship.

John Byrne, Poets & Quants’ editor-in-chief who moderated the discussion, commented, “I think the best part of entrepreneurship is generating meaningful employment for others, frankly.”

Yates founded men’s clothing accessory site Tylmen while he was an undergraduate. Tylmen’s direct-to-consumer line of accessories includes ties, pocket squares, belts, scarves and even face masks that double as pocket squares.

How Olin supported their startup ambitions

The panel also included Tova Feinberg, MBA ’22, cofounder of S.T.L. Loaves; Byron Porter, MBA ’20, founder and CEO of HUM Industrial Technology; and Shannon Turner, MBA ’18, founder of the Maria Lida Foundation.

The video event featured a discussion of how Olin supported them in their startup efforts.

Turner said she was drawn to Olin because its curriculum offered options to focus her studies on social entrepreneurship. Her foundation is a nonprofit  dedicated to promoting self-sustaining economic development in Alausi, Ecuador, her father’s hometown.

“I’ve always felt extremely blessed to get the education that I’ve received in the States and have always had a passion to use that education to get back to my roots,” Turner said. She started the Maria Lida Foundation after she graduated almost two years ago. “We’re trying to use education and vocational training and tourism as vehicles for economic development in the area.”

Said Byrne, “I’m loving the fact that we have a social impact person on the on the crew here, because it just shows you the variety, the diversity of startup activity in business schools and particularly in Olin.”

The foundation recently began providing a business consulting program for the local indigenous community.

“Tourism has taken a big hit, unfortunately, during this time,” Turner said. “Something that we can help the local community do in the meantime is maybe promote tourism to the domestic population as people start to kind of move around within the country.”

‘I gave it a shot’

Porter said he had no intention of becoming an entrepreneur.

“I was hoping for a nice, cushy general management job when I entered business school,” he said. Then he talked with a good friend who’d spent 15 years at multinational conglomerate General Electric before he became an entrepreneur. Porter’s friend encouraged him to reconsider his goals. “So I gave it a shot.”

Just four or five months into school at Olin, Porter decided to start a company.

The first attempt evolved into a second. HUM “was a pivot,” Porter said. Using “vibration analysis” and machine learning software, Porter created a monitoring device about the size of a deck of cards to track railcar movements and anticipate necessary maintenance—before a big accident happens.

“This is  predictive maintenance,” he said. “Right now, the rail industry is on a reactive maintenance cycle.”

Porter said he can’t say enough good things about Olin faculty and classes. “I’m still in touch with a least a half a dozen professors.”

Yates said Olin “has been super helpful” with his startup.

“There’s definitely a multitude of different funding resources, different professors who are looking to help me grow and scale” his business, “whether that be with marketing, with strategy, with operations. And it’s been really fun. Well, fun and rigorous, taking these core MBA classes.”

The sweet spot

Feinberg, a passionate foodie who founded an e-commerce bakery business, said she applies what she learns at Olin to her startup.

“It was very hard for me coming from a food and beverage background, seeing a lot of these restaurants shutting down left and right,” she said. Then she lost her bartending job while she was studying for grad school.

She decided to open an e-commerce business based on Amish friendship bread. “The best way to someone’s stomach is through sweets.” Feinberg currently delivers in St. Louis and ships loaves to other places.

At Olin, she has made strong connections with her peers and students in the class ahead of her, she said.

“They’re really cheering me on and really spreading the word” about her breads “and buying them, and tasting and giving me constructive feedback, as well.”

Also, Doug Villhard, academic director of Olin’s entrepreneurship program, “has been truly amazing,” she said. He is cheering her on, as well. Feinberg recently entered the Skandalaris Venture Competition, which provides mentorship to new ventures and startups to ready them for commercializing their idea, launching and pitching to investors.

“I’m learning how to do the executive summary and going for the seed money so I can really grow this business,” Feinberg said.

At one point, Byrne asked a question from the audience: “Since business school costs quite a hefty sum for most students, how did you reconcile that with your desire to become an entrepreneur?”

Said Feinberg: “There’s always that lingering thing in the back of your mind about money, money, money. And there’s no doubt that this program is intense as far as financials.” But the school is “really there” for students, she said, plus financial aid and scholarships are available.

“It’s about your passion. If you’re really passionate for your business, you go for it.”




Schindler (center) with his cofounders.

A startup born in WashU Olin’s Hatchery course has continued to grow into a full product line, with a focus on improving hydration and fostering healthier consumers.

Buoy (formerly BetterTomorrow) started based on the concern that Americans tend to be chronically dehydrated. Daniel Schindler, MBA ’19, developed a formula for a flavorless liquid supplement that can be added to any drink to foster hydration and overall health by helping people retain water.

Three years after its incorporation, Schindler’s company has grown into a full line of hydration products. After completing what the team calls “phase zero,” Schindler is proud to report a series of updates on the product.

Sales

Through August 2020, Schindler reports a total of $177,467 in sales for the year—with a projection of $300,000 by the end of the year. “Our sales so far have come from very minimal marketing and ad spend, so once we begin our growth phase we expect sales to increase exponentially,” Schindler said.

Marketing

Schindler is proud of his new website, justaddbuoy.com. On the site, consumers can find three products under the Buoy label: BuoyBuoy + CBD, and Buoy + Immunity, plus “a bunch of cool merch.”

Schindler and his team have also invested in content creation—an essential piece of modern marketing. “We are about to begin unleashing everything through social media and Google to begin growing our brand awareness,” he explained.

Strategic growth

Schindler reports a series of growth updates as he looks toward the future:

  • Forming the structure for a commission-based sales team
  • Launching an ambassador program, “designed to increase brand awareness both across social media and among healthcare professionals.”
  • Creating a discounted subscription program for people living with chronic illness. Schindler reflected, “We’ve gotten a ton of touching feedback from that community. We’ll be the first and only company among our competitors to offer this type of program.”
  • Growing the team with 9 new employees.

Schindler’s product exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit WashU Olin students embrace, whether they’re starting their own company or working with larger ones—and his mission to promote health for all Americans shows his commitment to being a leader who changes the world, for good.