Tag: Full-time MBA



Pictured above: Students and workshop panelists Amber Grace, Kesha Kent, LaShana Lewis and Crystal Ross-Smith participate in the November 20, 2020, workshop, "Incorporating DEI Practices into your Organization."

Engage white managers from the outset. Separate the human resources function from corporate diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. Build relationships. These key takeaways and more headlined “Incorporating DEI Practices into your Organization,” a recent workshop for WashU Olin MBA students featuring four DEI professionals who have been engaged in the work for years.

The workshop, organized by Olin’s Weston Career Center and moderated by Lori Whitherspoon, MBA ’21, provided insights from Amber Grace, advisor for diversity and recruiting partnerships for Raymond James; Kesha Kent, CEO and founder of MrsKeshSpeaks and national diversity and inclusion, community engagement talent specialist for Ascension; LaShana Lewis, of the St. Louis Equity in Entrepreneurship Collective; and Crystal Ross-Smith, MHRM ’17, director for diversity, equity and inclusion at Ameren (see their full bios here).

Here are a selection of the takeways from their session on November 20.

Create relationships

“We want to know what we can do to make everyone at Ameren be successful and bring their authentic selves to work,” Smith said. Kent added: “It was always my goal to make sure that individuals who had amazing experience could get in front of those hiring managers. It was about creating relationships with those hiring managers.”

Focus on entry-level positions

“Cultivate that talent,” said Grace. “We work on making sure our internship and entry level programs are highly, highly diverse. Then, making sure we have mentorship opportunities, exposure to executive-level leadership.”

Make sure the interview panel is diverse, while at the same time making sure the group of prospective hires is representative as well. “Allyship and ambassadors are very very important,” Lewis said. “Seeing that the interviewees were looking through my shoes made me feel like I would be welcome.”

Separate DEI from HR

Said Smith: “We are separate from HR. Our VP for diversity reports directly to our CEO and she is a peer of the VP of HR. That really works. It creates checks and balances. When we sat down to create the diversity of the hiring pipeline, HR showed us what we were doing. We were able to independently challenge what they were doing.”

Involve and engage white men

“Be intentional. Be honest and say that white males are the ones who feel most attacked, but you need white males to be involved in this,” Grace said. “Be intentional about constructing the conversations. You’re bringing the decision-makers into the space of allyship. Explain that this is the problem and make them feel part of the solution. That is a skill I had to learn. If I’m trying to make change, I want it to be solution-oriented. It’s not about me. I want this to be a safe space for everyone. Understand what your resources are, who your allies are, so you’re not internalizing these issues.”

Be creative about problem-solving

Lewis knows some organizations aren’t large enough to provide a full-time person dedicated to initiatives around diversity, equity and inclusion. “A lot of us consultants have come together and came up with the idea of a ‘fractional’ chief diversity officer,” she said. That’s a professional who provides a share of her time to a variety of organizations each month. “Employees are supposed to be doing their jobs, not doing the volunteer service of being a DEI officer.”

See video of the workshop

Pictured at top: Students and workshop panelists Amber Grace, Kesha Kent, LaShana Lewis and Crystal Ross-Smith participate in the November 20, 2020, workshop “Incorporating DEI Practices into your Organization.”




Michelle Tucker is president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis. She spoke to Olin students in January in Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top, a class the Bauer Leadership Center offers.

Here, Lael Bialek, MBA ’20, shares her thoughts on Tucker’s talk:

Philosophy on leadership

Lael Bialek

Michelle Tucker attributed her professional achievement to her choice to follow her passion and be her authentic self. The president  and CEO role at the United Way of St. Louis was not a position Tucker pursued. Rather, her reputation as a leader who genuinely cared about the community and had followed her passion out of the corporate world made her the standout choice for the job.

Tucker acknowledged that following your passion often requires you to step outside of your comfort zone. In an effort to contribute to her community in more impactful ways, Tucker left behind the comforts and luxuries she had enjoyed at Bank of America for almost 20 years.

She described how she stepped out of her comfort zone to step forward and lead an organization with a mission she was passionate about. Taking that step required Tucker to be brave and become comfortable in being uncomfortable.

Trajectory of career

Tucker’s commitment to the St. Louis community has been the driving force in her career. During her time at Bank of America, Tucker worked to expand and define her roles such that she was in a position to develop and implement strategies that enabled Bank of America to support the St. Louis community.

Although Tucker had the opportunity to engage with the community through her work at Bank of America, she knew her passion, experience and skills could make a huge difference in a mission-driven nonprofit organization. Tucker followed her heart to Epworth Children & Family Services. Likewise, her decision to leave Epworth after two years to lead the United Way of St. Louis stemmed from her passion for contributing to the community.

Lessons learned

Having spent seven years working with nonprofits before pursuing my MBA, it was incredibly exciting and powerful for me to have the opportunity to learn from a successful and respected nonprofit leader in the St. Louis community. Tucker’s story and poise radiated curiosity, tenacity and courage—characteristics I will strive to emulate as I continue work to develop and refine my leadership style.

Courage

Tucker has only been able to live out her passions through tremendous bravery. She has continually pushed the boundaries of her comfort and put herself in the best possible position to affect positive change. Her courageousness had taken many forms—from working at Bank of American at a time when African-American females in the banking industry were few and far between to stepping away from the luxuries of the corporate world to lead a nonprofit organization.

Tucker understands the value of her intellectual capital and has never let fear keep her from utilizing it in meaningful and impactful ways. Her career is inspirational. I had never considered that acting on your passion could be an act of bravery. Tucker has inspired me not to let my fears and insecurities hold me back. I hope to someday give as much of myself as I can to my community and model courageousness as Tucker does.


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 businesses, nonprofits and startups. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Jay Li, BSBA ’16, director of marketing at Regatta Craft Mixers.

Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?

Honestly, we had to scrap existing plans to bring on summer interns due to the pandemic. When I received the email from Dean Taylor about the program, we rushed to pitch a strategic project we’ve been struggling with. 

What is your project about?

Our students worked on using insights from consumer research to inform a selling strategy for the grocery channel. 

What was it like working with WashU Olin students?

The additional bandwidth and their fresh perspective was great. It was a pleasure working with our team, and they definitely challenged some assumptions we’ve held for a while. We were really impressed with the depth of thought and analysis we’ve seen from them. 

When you’re so focused on fighting daily fires, other things—like figuring out exactly who our consumers are—have to wait. The students have really helped us work on some badly-needed projects. Plus, the students’ fresh perspective has been great—they helped us find ways we were looking at the wrong hypotheses.

What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?

I would encourage them to try and find silver linings. Although COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and disruption as our behaviors change. 




Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, wrote this on behalf of her CEL team. Editing help was provided by Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21 and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21.

Growing up in a family-owned restaurant, Fady Hawatmeh knew what it was like to run a small business. During the years when he ran a CFO consultancy firm in the greater Chicago area, Fady saw firsthand how countless small companies were struggling with the same issues he had seen in his father’s restaurants—managing finances and cash flow. That’s when he realized how systemic the issue was.

Small businesses typically don’t have a CFO. Now as an experienced CFO, Fady knows that no one in small businesses likes laying out 5-year financial projections, but understanding a business’s financial standing and cash flow is key if that business wants to survive and thrive.

“It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you have to manage your cash flow and your finances. I knew there was a better way to do it.” said Fady.

Hence, he founded Clockwork. Clockwork is the only tool that builds your financial models, cash flow forecasts, metrics, and scenarios all in one place and in real-time. Before Clockwork was founded, Fady built financial models and cash flow forecasts for every one of his clients because 90% of them didn’t have one, and the rest were essentially ineffective.

As a consultant and outsourced CFO, he could help hundreds of companies. With the help of software, this number can scale to millions. In addition, Clockwork provides a platform for individual CPAs and accounting firms to offer more advanced financial forecasting services.

Founded just over two years ago, Clockwork has focused heavily on product to date. Now, with over 200 customers and helping save CPAs 5 hours per month per client, Clockwork is expanding its services in order to stay ahead of their competition. Clockwork wants to apply their early successes to serve to more clients, potentially expanding into new markets.

Fady is working on a semester-long practicum project through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. With faculty support from II Luscri  (Direct of CELect), the students — Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, Julie Zhang, BSBA ’23, Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21, Mingqian Li, JD ’21, and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21 — will designate strategies to help Clockwork expand its product offering into the venture capital market. Venture capital firms typically have a large portfolio of companies they invest in, resulting in a strong need to efficiently monitor the financial standings of these portfolio companies. While we have only completed preliminary research to date, we believe that selling to VCs will have an amplifying effect on Clockwork.

Pictured above: Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21, Mingqian Li, JD ’21, and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21 during their first meeting with Fady Hawatmeh.


In the summer of 1993, in the midst of work on her MBA at WashU Olin, Nina Leigh Krueger scored a brand management internship with Nestlé Purina PetCare. After graduation, she landed a full-time job there—and she’s never looked back.

On Monday, Krueger was named the first female CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare for the Americas after rising like a shot through the ranks of the company during her 27-year career. She assumes the post January 1.

“I truly am honored by this opportunity,” Krueger said in a statement released on Monday by the company. “I look forward to working with our Purina team to accelerate our strong momentum and to build on our more than 90-year history of making science-based dog and cat foods, treats and cat litter that pet owners trust.”

Krueger will become the company’s eighth CEO, succeeding Joseph R. Sivewright, who will become chairman. Sivewright praised Krueger in the announcement, saying, “Nina Leigh is the perfect choice to lead this company into a winning future,” he said. “She has played a vital role in our many successes during a time of great complexity in the pet care business.”

Krueger was honored as a WashU Olin distinguished alumna in 2017. In a tribute video made for her at the time, Sivewright also praised her business acumen and her business contributions, but also her respect for work-life balance in a corporate setting and family. “Nina Leigh knows how fortunate she is,” he said. “She gives back. She pays it forward.”

Krueger assumes the role after serving since 2016 as the company’s first female president. A year prior, Krueger was named chief marketing officer. Seven years after joining the company, corporate executives tapped Krueger to integrate two marketing departments when Nestlé acquired Purina in 2001.

Around the time she was named a distinguished alumna, Krueger had been credited with closing a 10-year agreement with the Westminster Kennel Club, making Purina Pro Plan the exclusive pet food sponsor for the club’s famous annual dog show—extending an agreement that began in 2012.

In an Olin Blog post in 2015, when she was named chief marketing officer, Krueger said earning her MBA gave her the skill and vision to see the big picture throughout her career.

“Olin taught me how to ask smart questions,” Krueger said at that time. “While my focus was marketing, the broad base of the program also gave me a grounding in areas like operations and accounting. I’ve discovered that leadership is not just knowing the answers. Often, it is about knowing the right questions to ask.”