Tag: Full-time MBA

Shantanu Pande, MBA

Shantanu Pande, MBA ’21, began the program at WashU Olin in June and participated as part of the inaugural class in the MBA global immersion. He wrote this for the Olin Blog.

I am a first-year MBA student at Olin and I just returned from the inaugural global immersion program for MBAs. At the start of our MBA experience, we visited Washington, DC, Barcelona and Shanghai, learning about their cultures and business practices. During our assignments, I noticed how values from different cultures played a role in the business decisions.

Our stay in Washington, DC, was a huge eye-opener for us. The guest speakers were excellent about exposing us to their expert views on different economies around the world. We also had museum visits describing different eras of American history, with the assignment forcing us to think about values in a very detailed way. I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on what I saw and learned.

Since our first day at Olin, we have been exposed to the values of Olin. A presentation was made and we all listened, absorbed some and let most of it pass. From an individual’s point of view, the Olin values are all very important and when we look at them, we would think that these are pretty standard and should be important for others too.

But then I started working on different tasks with my classmates and traveling with them. This was when I realized how difficult it is always to stay true to these values.

In DC, we looked at different museums and learned how American values have been tested time and again. The fight for these 250-year-old values is a constant one. The one thing that struck me the most was the overriding courage of the people who have led this fight. They believed in these values and they lived with these values.

Listing a few values on the paper are well and good, but sticking to them when it is easier to just reach a compromise can be very challenging task. There will be times when your commitment to including diverse point of views is tested severely. It is easy to listen to, but not include these diverse views. Real strength is needed to fight when that point is not to everyone’s liking or is an unpopular choice.

It is easier said than done to strive for excellence in every task you pursue when the alternate could be shorter and easier way to get the task done. We must be resilient to stay true to our values when there is pressure to make the wrong choice.

In closing, I would like to reiterate that values require courage. As business leaders of the future, we need to be mindful of this and remember this relationship when it comes to creating goals around our values.

Pictured above: Shantanu Pande, MBA ’21, in DC during the WashU Olin MBA global immersion, which took nearly 100 students from St. Louis around the globe to DC, Barcelona, Beijing and Shanghai.

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Markey Culver, MBA ’17. Markey leads The Women’s Bakery, an international organization that empowers and feeds women in East Africa.

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

I currently lead The Women’s Bakery, an international social enterprise that empowers women and provides access to quality, affordable breads in East Africa. I chose to get an MBA to better run and grow my company. Olin opened doors to many opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom. I had mentors in the form of professors, peers and alumni. Olin celebrated my work in the social enterprise space, which was both encouraging and inspiring.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

Dr. John Horn, Economics, and Dr. Tom Fields, Accounting, were my most influential professors. Not only were both excellent professors, but they took a personal interest in seeing me succeed. John was genuinely interested in The Women’s Bakery and helped me analyze the company’s business model as well as craft our strategic plan for growth. Tom honed my skills in constructing financial systems company-wide. 

Why is an MBA important?

I chose my MBA because I sought to fuse the non-profit and for-profit sectors. I knew I had emotional intelligence and communication skills, but lacked finance and accounting acumen as well as the theoretical building blocks of business. I wanted the tool box to build something new and better and Olin’s programs merit such fusion by embracing, incubating and launching entrepreneurs of all kinds.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

Take advantage of office time with your professors and take risks in the classes you choose!

Pictured above: Markey Culver with a group of women involved in The Women’s Bakery. Markey is third from the left.

Ellen Toobin, MBA

Ellen Toobin, MBA ’20, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

I believe in the power of connecting people around the world. This summer, I had the opportunity to work for a company that makes that possible on a massive scale — American Airlines.

As an intern with the small and medium business strategy team, I tackled the question of how to increase customer loyalty in the business-to-business environment.

I worked with American Airlines Business Extra, a points-based loyalty program for small and medium businesses. Today, the program treats all its active customers the same, rewarding earned flight miles with points that can be used by the company’s travel manager for award redemption.

American Airlines has the opportunity to use targeted incentives to motivate the traveler as well as the travel manager to fly more often by differentiating between its customers.

To evaluate tiering the program, I considered three key criteria: the customer’s needs, where American Airlines finds the most value and the revenue opportunity and costs driving stretch behavior could create. I also considered Business Extra’s role in the suite of other small and medium business products American Airlines offers.

Through this analysis, I concluded there could be significant value in tiering the program, however, the additional liability of rewarding customers may not be offset by stretch behavior alone.

This internship afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively both as a “non-rev” or standby passenger and officially with the company.

My project took me to Madrid to meet with American Airlines’ joint business partners, British Airways and Iberia. I presented my analysis about the opportunity to tier Business Extra to the executives at our partner airlines and experienced how business can be conducted on a global scale.

I found that Peter Boumgarden’s class “Power and Politics” came in handy when navigating the delicate waters of international joint business agreements.

The American Airlines internship was rich in exposure and adventure. Biweekly lunches with leadership gave us a full picture of the complexity of the airline business. We toured the international operational control center and the flight academy, where we got to sit in the flight simulator. I’m not ready to fly a plane, but it was an experience I’ll never forget.

I’m grateful to Olin alum Harini Venkitarama, MBA ’18, who helped me prepare for the Forté conference long before school started. I’m also thankful to the WCC, which helped me prepare for my interviews even before I’d ever entered an Olin classroom.

Finally, I’m thankful to American Airlines for helping me transform from a first-year MBA to a more confident business woman ready to take on the world.  

Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Tim Segrist who worked at Spire Energy as a corporate development intern.

I spent the summer as a corporate development intern at Spire Inc.—a natural gas distribution company serving cities throughout the Midwest and Southeast. Entering my MBA at Olin I knew I wanted to get involved in mergers and acquisitions and being able to do that from my hometown in St. Louis was a great opportunity.

Throughout the summer, I was able get involved in many of the different steps in the deal process (sourcing, modeling, due diligence, etc.). Ultimately, I was fascinated at how many inputs go into the buying decision as a strategic buyer and how different it is than a strictly financial process.

Day-to-day, my tasks were never the same (no two deals are truly alike, after all). I spent the first few weeks doing a deep-dive into the natural gas industry. It is difficult to be impactful in corporate development without fully understanding what the drivers of the business are.

I enjoyed this process as I was able to connect with different leaders throughout the company and hear about their experiences. My first real project involved doing analysis around the weighted average cost of capital we use for our models and helping build a precedent transactions model for buying local distribution companies (utilities). After that, I did work sourcing potential deals by researching financials, operations, and strategic fit.

Finally, I led the modeling on a deal which gave me practical experience on how to build a model that is scalable, flexible, and accurate. I really appreciated the variety of the role, as it gave me significant opportunity to learn as much as possible.

The internship was valuable for a plethora of reasons—notably, being able to apply classroom learning and work closely with impressive people (the corporate development team consistently presents to the C-suite). If I were to pass along any advice to others looking for/starting an internship:

1. Find a role where you can constantly learn. This summer has given me a lot of clarity on the type of industry, role, and career path I am going to pursue going forward.

2. Talk to as many people as you can throughout the internship—it has given me a great network of people I can keep up with going forward and allowed my projects to be more impactful.

The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni (and Dean Taylor) faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is one of those vignettes.

In 2007 and 2008, as world markets tumbled into history’s worst global financial crisis, Mark Taylor was managing the European arm of a $10 billion global hedge fund—and 95 percent of his clients were pension funds. The crisis demanded staff reductions in his team, and with returns down, remaining employees took massive hits to their incentive-based compensation.

“How do you motivate a staff when you’re in the middle of a financial crisis?” Taylor asked. Part of the answer: Leverage as much data as possible to analyze long- term fundamentals—recognizing that the crisis had rendered much conventional analysis unworkable. The goal: Stem losses and preserve as much wealth as possible.

But another part of the answer meant Taylor had to reinforce for his team the reasons they came to work every day.

“This was other people’s money. If we walked away, people’s pension funds could disappear,” he said. When he met with pension fund trustees, he asked them to invite some of the retirees themselves, placing them across the table from his own junior and senior staff members.

His team responded positively to the motivation. And in the darkest moment, Taylor said, his fund was down about 10 percent when world markets were down 40 percent. The fund rebounded sharply the next year.

Ja Song

Ja Song, who was a student on the vanguard of WashU’s earliest links with Korea and rose to become president of one of its top universities, died on August 22.

Song was among the first Korean students to come to Washington University when the US government tapped Olin Business School to work with two South Korean universities to rehabilitate their business programs after the war in that country. Song earned his MBA from Olin in 1962 and his doctorate in business administration from the school in 1967.

South Korean news sources reported last week on Song’s death at age 82. He had served as the 12th president of Yonsei University from 1992 to 1996. The same reports indicated Song had also led Myongji University and the Cyber University of Korea before serving as South Korea’s minister of education in 2000. Olin named Song a distinguished alumnus in 2003 when he was CEO of Daekyo Co. Ltd., South Korea’s leading educational information service provider.

While leading Yonsei, he and then-Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton launched a student exchange agreement between Yonsei and WashU. Song also served as a member of WashU’s International Advisory Council for Asia. 

‘A very good friend’

“More than anyone, he maintained the connection of the school with Korea, and that’s continued through to the present day,” said Robert Virgil, WashU Olin dean emeritus and a contemporary of Song’s in the business school in the early 1960s. “I remember him as a very good friend, dedicated academic, a very serious person and a great ambassador of his country and of the Olin school.”

In an interview with Olin Business School in 2017, Song was effusive in his praise of the contribution WashU made through the so-called “Korea Project,” partnering students and faculty with their counterparts at Yonsei and Korea universities to establish quality business curricula at the two schools.

“It was not only trying to train the teacher, they trained industry people,” Song said on the occasion of Olin’s 100th anniversary. “They had conferences for them. That project had many purposes to help us know the new developments and skills in teaching about business.”

After graduating in 1962, Song served a mandatory 16-month tour in the South Korean army and returned to Olin to earn his doctorate in accounting. He taught for 10 years at the University of Connecticut, then he taught in Korea until 1992 when he began his tenure as Yonsei’s president.

‘A great champion of Olin’

“Ja Song was a great champion of Olin Business School, Yonsei University and other business schools,” said former Olin Dean Mahendra Gupta. “He was instrumental in re-establishing relationships with Yonsei and starting the global master of finance program.”

Media reports from South Korea said Song had received honors from his country in 1997 for his contributions to education and alumni honors from Yonsei in 1998 and 2003. School officials noted that Song was instrumental in starting Yonsei’s first school development fund, raising 100 billion won during his tenure—or about $82.3 million today.

He was reportedly involved with a number of South Korean social service agencies for children and wrote several groundbreaking accounting textbooks.

Song’s survivors include his wife, Tak Soon-hee, his daughters Eun-mi Song and Jeong-yeon Song, and his sons-in-law Park Ki-nam and Choi Jae-hoon. Funeral services were reportedly held the morning of August 26 on the Yonsei University grounds.