Tag: Full-time MBA



Guest blog post written on behalf of the CELect program by Victoria Gravett, MBA ’19; Paul Tychsen, PMBA ’19; Thomas Rogers, JD ’19; Jack Terschluse, JD ’19; and Jack West, JD ‘19.

St. Louis-based Finlocker is a secure, reusable, financial locker that smoothes the application process for a consumer loan. With the click of a button, the consumer can share their information when they want, with who they want, and for long as they choose.

Instead of the arduous process of a paper application, the consumer can upload and securely submit their documents online, saving time and money for both the bank and the consumer during loan origination.

In addition to helping consumers navigate the loan application process with transparency, security, and speed, Finlocker provides personal financial management tools to help consumers build their financial profile, manage their finances, and plan for the future.

As part of the fall 2018 CELect class, our team of JD and MBA students are collaborating to develop innovative features to improve “stickiness”—increasing consumer usage and further creating clients for life.

After surveying the competitive landscape, the team brainstormed new features to develop and potentially implement. The goal is to provide Finlocker with features that will allow them to take the next step in becoming a financial tool that consumers use daily.

Pictured above: Paul Tychsen, Victoria Gravett, and Jack West working on their project. Thomas Rogers and Jack Terschluse, also in our group, are not pictured.




Staci Thomas is one of the Olin faculty members who has grown accustomed to "flipping the classroom" — assigning "knowledge transfer" to the homework and spending classroom time on interactive projects and engagement.

We live in a world of change and disruption in all spheres of life. In particular, technology has had a largely positive effect on all aspects of our lives—personal and professional. Education is no exception.

While the pace of technological innovation appears to be accelerating, innovation itself is not altogether new. Over the centuries we’ve moved from scrolls to codex books and more recently toward digital reading technology such as the Kindle and the iPad, and most classroom instructors have replaced dusty chalkboards with more modern alternatives.

Yet the standard process of knowledge transfer in universities—the lecture—hasn’t changed much in around the last 1,000 years, since the rise of the university in the early European Renaissance. This is beginning to change around the world—and at Olin, in classrooms run by professors such as Andrew Knight and Staci Thomas, who adapted classes that used to rely on classroom lectures and projects that students worked on outside of class.

“I thought I needed to flip the classroom so the lectures become the homework,” said Staci, a lecturer in communication. “Class becomes more like a workshop. We do presentations or create communications plans collaboratively. I can see it. I can hear it. I can offer suggestions to improve.”

Now, basic knowledge transfer happens outside of class, through short video clips, video conferences and other technological tools. It’s important to note however, that this method of knowledge transfer is a complement to rather than a substitute for face-to-face interaction. First, we use behavioural science to fine tune knowledge transfer outside of class, based on known attention spans and the creative use of mental stimuli through technology.

Then we use the face-to-face classroom experience to assimilate that knowledge, taking it in more deeply and fully understanding its implications and uses in a range of contexts and collaborative situations, using real-time case studies, seminars and group discussions.

Creating tools to encourage change

At Olin Business School we are building a custom-made e-learning platform tailored to the school’s needs. Equipped to give instructors and classmates the tools to collaborate from around the world, it will seamlessly integrate course materials, online learning experiences, recorded materials and innovative assessment, in an online environment which is uniquely Olin.

Two months ago, three new colleagues joined the Olin team and have already spent time engaging business school stakeholders—students, faculty, staff and alumni—about how a new digital learning platform can best serve everyone. Our goal is to launch a world-leading platform by the time the next full-time MBA students begin their new global immersion just seven months from now (check out my earlier blog post for more about the new MBA programme).

“Our eyes lit up when we saw the focus on teamwork in the MBA redesign,” Simon Harper told me. He’s director of platform operations and service for Olin, part of the three-person team of developers, e-learning experts and information design specialists leading the work. “We see that the tools can easily support collaboration across geography.”

Andrew Knight, associate professor of organizational behaviour, is eager to have additional tools to carry on the transition he’s begun to make in his classroom, where he uses 60 to 80 percent of his classroom time with first- and second-year MBAs on interactive teamwork and leadership exercises.

“I try to use the classroom time to practice teamwork and leadership through experiential exercises to get experience and feedback from their peers,” Andrew said. “I’d like to use class time and technology to shift the one-way flow of information from me to multimedia content and use our time in the classroom in a 100 percent interactive fashion.”

Integrating students, alumni, staff, faculty

What we’re doing at Olin is exciting, but I want to be candid as well: It’s not the first time I’ve been involved with such an effort. It wouldn’t take much sleuthing to know I led a similar effort during my time as dean of Warwick Business School. And I will build on that experience.

The digital platform we will build at Olin will knit together all aspects of the school, tracking students through the whole programme from operations to registration, from class scheduling to faculty scheduling, from the classroom experience to our connections with Olin alumni. We will also build and equip state-of-the-art studios to capture online content.

“We are experienced in this,” Harper said. “It’s our expertise, but it goes beyond that. We’re keen to create new things once we learn the needs, unlocking the further potential of the faculty here.”

Might Olin eventually offer an online degree? Perhaps. Stay tuned. Right now, the plan is to build from the ground up a next generation virtual learning environment to support the new MBA, our professional MBA and, eventually, all our programmes, as well as a platform through which our alumni can better engage with one another.

It’s the right thing to do as we continue to enhance Olin’s global standing. And our students expect nothing less.

Pictured above: Staci Thomas is one of the Olin faculty members who has grown accustomed to “flipping the classroom” — assigning “knowledge transfer” to the homework and spending classroom time on interactive projects and engagement.




Leslie Ramey, MBA ’20, and Braden Zoet, MBA ’20, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

Curious minds and incredible opportunities: These were the two ingredients that made the Silicon Valley Tech Trek an exciting learning experience for 17 MBA students from Washington University’s Olin Business School in early November.

Through the planning of Olin Technology Club President Maitrayee Goswami and the Weston Career Center’s Allison Dietz and Gregory Hutchings, the group was able to visit seven companies over two days and have meaningful engagement with WashU alumni in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Day 1

We began our first day of the trek with a visit to Cisco’s impressive headquarters in San Jose, where we were hosted by Olin alumnus Rick Butler, who is the senior director of sales compensation COE. Cisco, one of the original Silicon Valley companies, was founded in 1984 by two Stanford students. The company’s vision to help “change the way the world works, lives, plays, and learns” undoubtedly remains the guiding force behind its continued innovation.

While Cisco has historically been known for its hardware products, the company is increasingly moving toward software solutions. We had the privilege of walking through some fascinating real-world applications of Cisco solutions, like smart cities that use “internet of things” technology to monitor and manage common community issues like parking, law enforcement, and school safety.

Learning about the innovative ways that Cisco is using technology to connect and change the world was both instructive and inspiring.

Our next destination that morning was PayPal headquarters, where we spent time at PayPal’s Innovation Showcase center, an interactive way to experience its online payment solutions and learn about their business model. As a platform that facilitates transactions between merchants and consumers, PayPal focuses on acting as a security specialist for transactions.

Jim Van Over (marketing specialist) and Michael Champlin (manager innovation showcase) provided fascinating insights into the important value PayPal provides merchants and consumers through its risk, fraud, and security systems.

We also enjoyed an engaging session with a panel of PayPal employees—including Megan Harvey (university programs, program manager), Ben Cork (software engineer), Mike Todasco (director of innovation), and Tomer Schwartz (product manager)—discussing topics like the PayPal Innovation Lab, the role of product managers at the company, and employee development opportunities.

At Google’s corporate headquarters in Mountain View, we were hosted by recent WashU grad Omar Abdelaziz, an associate product manager in the Google Maps team. After being treated to an inviting group lunch on-site, the group participated in a Q&A session with Abdelaziz and colleagues Claudia Freeman (associate account analyst), Lola Idowu (program manager, Google Cloud), and Shane Carr (software engineer).

The conversation revealed Google’s culture of “defaulting to open” that promotes transparency and information sharing and also allows “Googlers” to bring their whole selves to work. It was fascinating to learn that while 80 percent of an employee’s time is spent on his or her job responsibilities, employees are encouraged to spend the remaining 20 percent on passion projects.

Many Google products have come from the “20 percent” initiatives. These projects are also fostered through Area 120, Google’s incubator, which provides resources and investment for employee startup ideas. Our engagement with Google highlighted the company’s continued commitment toward growth and development of talent internally, while always focusing on innovating for the future.

Our final company visit of the day was at HP headquarters in Palo Alto. Olin MBA alum MaryKate Mahoney, VR program lead in healthcare products, greeted our group and joined us as received a guided tour of the HP Customer Welcome Center and interacted with several HP employees.

The center provides an immersive way to experience HP’s latest technology, from modern office and home products to production-grade 3D printers. We also enjoyed a step back in time as MaryKate showed us the offices of founders Dave Packard and Bill Hewlett, completely preserved in their original decor.

After our tour, we were joined by other HP employees including alumna Lucy Yeung (senior manager) for a Q&A session to hear more about the culture, leadership and life at HP. We learned how HP’s vision to create technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere, for every person, every organization, and every community worldwide, has shaped the company’s focus on its own reinvention.

We ended the day in great company with a WashU networking happy hour, held at The Patio in Palo Alto. Over the course of the evening, students and alumni shared food, drinks, and fun conversations that helped form new connections.

Day 2

We began our second day in downtown San Francisco, where we had the distinct pleasure of waking up to beautiful weather that made our time spent downtown even more enjoyable.

Our first stop was Uber Technologies, where we were welcomed by WashU alumna Kirsten Miller, senior operations manager, compliance. This was a unique visit because Uber will soon be focusing on MBA-specific internships. We had the opportunity to engage with University Recruiter Matt Garcia, who asked our group about the factors that drive us as MBAs, and qualities we look for in our internship programs.

We found it exciting to share our personal insights and inspirations in an effort to help Uber establish a comprehensive and competitive MBA internship program.

Following that conversation, we were joined by WashU alumni Courtney Windler, head of US and Canada eater operations and David Dreyfus, strategy and planning at Uber Freight. Our group discussed Uber’s latest initiatives, its culture, and how success is measured on a regular basis.

The conversation reiterated a common theme across many firms we visited, i.e. the importance of learning how to thrive in ambiguity. Our discussion continued over a delicious lunch at Uber’s headquarters, which provides employees with a variety of freshly cooked meals and drinks.

After wrapping up our meal at Uber, we moved just a few floors up to Square’s headquarters. We began with a tour of Square’s expansive, minimal and aesthetically appealing offices, which included a discussion on Square’s early history. Did you know that it began as a startup in St. Louis?

At Square, we met with WashU alumna Sami Rosenthal, program manager, who spoke with us about the importance of “customer success” and shared how the company’s vision of economic empowerment constantly remains top-of-mind for all Square employees.  Two university recruiters also discussed opportunities and challenges of working in fintech.

Our last visit was to Salesforce, where we had the opportunity to visit the Ohana Floor at the top of the city’s tallest tower. At an impressive 1,070 feet high, we enjoyed 360-degree panoramic views of the city and bay. To add even more excitement to the occasion, Marc Benioff, founder, chairman, and co-CEO of Salesforce visited the floor during our time there. While we didn’t quite have the opportunity to network with him, it was still fun to get a passing glimpse of one of the world’s most successful tech entrepreneurs.

After descending 61 stories to reach the ground floor, we had the chance to go out and explore San Francisco. Because many of us had never been to the city before, it was our opportunity to visit a few of the city’s highlights before returning home to St. Louis, including Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street, and Pier 39.

Our trip served as a stimulating opportunity for us to experience first-hand, the distinctive culture and penchant for disruption found at many tech firms and startups in the Bay Area and their influence around the globe. The trek ignited our collective excitement as many of us look to transition into or stay within high tech, following the completion of our MBAs at Olin.

It also proved to be a friendly reminder of the innovation driven by these companies and the Olin graduates who work there, who make these innovations possible. As we boarded the plane to return home to St. Louis, many of us were already enthusiastically discussing next year’s Tech Trek. We hope you’ll join!




Financial Times business programs in the Americas, 2018 ranking

In its second year ranking the top postgraduate business programs in the Americas, the Financial Times has placed WashU Olin eighth on the two continents—rising nine places since last year, the highest jump among the top 25 schools.

The FT ranking is a composite of its rankings for the full-time MBA, Executive MBA, open executive education programs, and custom executive education programs at business schools in North, South and Central America (see the full ranking on this page).

Olin’s strong performance in the EMBA ranking—placing sixth globally—and a strongly improved showing in the FT global full-time MBA ranking contributed to pushing the full postgraduate program up in this latest survey.

Olin’s full-time MBA ranked 50th globally and 24th among B-schools in the Americas in FT‘s last ranking (jumping 18 places).

“This is a strong statement about the overall quality of Olin’s entire portfolio of programs,” said Dean Mark Taylor. “The work continues, of course, buoyed by these and other similar results recently.”

Those results include:

  • In early November, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Olin’s full-time MBA 32nd in the country, up four places from the previous year.
  • The Financial Times global MBA ranking in March, in which Olin jumped 18 places, landing in the world’s top 50.
  • The FT’s global ranking of executive MBA programs last month, in which our Shanghai Executive MBA moved up to sixth in the world.
  • In November’s ranking of entrepreneurship programs by the Princeton Review, WashU held firm on its No. 7 ranking for undergraduate programs and moved up four spots to rank No. 18 in the graduate program ranking.
  • The Economist’s 2018 global ranking of MBA programs, also in October, placed Olin 37th in the world, up six places from the previous year.
  • Poets & Quants’ undergraduate ranking in 2017, which placed in the top two in the nation along with Wharton.
  • The TFE Times master of finance rankings placed Olin fourth in the US in 2018.



Maxine Clark, founder of St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop, kicked off the semester’s first Women & Leadership class with a story of her childhood. This is a selection of my three takeaways from her talk.

It’s OK to make mistakes

Clark explained that her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Grace, was responsible for imparting a lesson Maxine has carried with her throughout her life: “Learn from your mistakes.” Every Friday, Mrs. Grace would hand out a red pencil to the student that made the most mistakes that week. Maxine Clark noted the uniqueness that for once it wasn’t the brightest or quickest student that was rewarded, but one that had made mistakes.

Taking this lesson forward, Clark was pleased to see that the retail industry also embraced mistakes. At her very first job in the executive training program at the May Company, she had the responsibility of marking down prices with a very similar red pencil. She thought, “Wow, I’m made for this job!”

As a student, whose value is measured often by test scores and grades, it’s refreshing to remember that making mistakes leads to growth. Looking around the classroom, I saw many young women also relieved by the idea that mistakes can lead to success. Clark’s words came at an important time as many of us are soon graduating and starting a new life chapter.

Know what you don’t know

Clark proudly admits, “One of my strengths is I know what I don’t know.” This acknowledgment helped her snag one an incredible promotion. As a new employee for the May Company, she was tasked with the job of traveling to Asia to pick out products for all of the May Company stores. Maxine knew immediately that she didn’t know what the other stores would need.

Without the support of her supervisor, she had to take it upon herself to travel to the Pittsburgh store to see their assortment. There, she ran into David Farrell, who would soon become the CEO. Impressed with her initiative, he continued a professional relationship, eventually promoting Clark to chief of staff. Knowing what she didn’t know both allowed her to prove self-initiative and feel comfortable asking for help.

Enjoy the journey

Clark emanates passion. With exuberance, she described every project she was involved in. She ascribes much of her success to her passion and her ability to “enjoy the journey.” Starting with Build-A-Bear, she felt that she could pour all of her energy into the company’s success and growth because she felt so passionate. Today, she invests her energy in projects surround education, women in business, and the St. Louis community.

Pictured above: Maxine Clark, founder of the Build-A-Bear Workshop, speaking in 2013 during Olin Business School’s Defining Moments lecture series. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.




Entrepreneurship education at Washington University in St. Louis—at both the graduate and undergraduate levels—has again earned top 25 status in the latest ranking by The Princeton Review in partnership with Entrepreneur Magazine.

WashU held firm on its No. 7 ranking for undergraduate programs and moved up four spots to rank No. 18 in the graduate program ranking.

As one of four key strategic pillars for Olin Business School, this week’s entrepreneurship ranking was particularly timely for Clifford Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship.

“It is gratifying to see our focus reflected in the national rankings for entrepreneurship,” he said. “Olin, the WashU community, and the greater St. Louis community provide incredibly robust opportunities for students in entrepreneurship, but this ranking is as much a credit to the students’ entrepreneurial efforts in seizing these opportunities.”

The ranking released on Tuesday noted that WashU’s undergraduate programs offer “28 entrepreneurship-related undergraduate courses. Over the last five years, its graduates have started 84 companies and have collectively raised over $329 million in funding.”

Among graduate programs in entrepreneurship, WashU “offers 33 entrepreneurship-related graduate courses. Over the last five years, its graduates have started 58 companies and have collectively raised over $100 million in funding.”

See the complete ranking of top 25 undergraduate and graduate programs.