Tag: Full-time MBA



Alex Ignatius, a first-year MBA student, shared her journey to Olin at the February 14 Forté MBA Launch 2020 Live Event in Washington, DC. She had spent years in the agency world, working in Shanghai, Chicago and Washington. She specialized in executive communications, global project management and issues/reputation recovery for clients including Nissan Motor Co., ALDI, Johnson & Johnson and others. Ignatius graduated cum laude from Columbia University and is a former professional ballet dancer. She spoke about what drew her to Olin and her MBA experience so far. Here are her excerpted and edited remarks:

Alex Ignatius

I grew up in Washington, DC, and went to Columbia University for my undergrad, where I majored in psychology. Ballet had always been a big part of my life, and so after graduation, I took the unconventional path and joined a regional ballet company.

The qualities I learned from ballet —the constant pursuit of excellence, discipline and teamwork—have shaped who I am today and have helped make me a confident businesswoman. And that’s something to think about in your own story. You may feel some of your personal or professional history doesn’t fit the prototype of the typical student, but I would encourage you to think about how those experiences make you stand out from the crowd.

After my ballet career, I joined one of the top advertising and communications agencies, Ogilvy & Mather, in their DC office, eventually transferring to the company’s office in Shanghai, where I lived and worked for three years before returning to the states.

I loved my eight years working in corporate affairs and reputation management, but I knew that to achieve what I wanted in business and to make a meaningful difference for companies, I needed an MBA. While I had strong “soft” skills in client service, talent development and project management, there was a gap in my quantitative knowledge.

I knew that the analytical rigor of an MBA would be critical to being able to evaluate new markets and customer segments and to make more informed, strategic and data-driven decisions. The MBA would give me a more comprehensive business toolkit and allow me to really taste test different disciplines across finance, strategy, data analysis, operations and marketing.

Choosing Olin

As a native Washingtonian and having recently lived in Chicago, I kept my applications very focused on top-25 programs on the east coast and Midwest. I prioritized smaller MBA programs that would provide a more tailored and hands-on experience but that also had access to the offerings of a large university system.

There were essentially three key factors that shaped my decision-making process. First, I prioritized academic rigor and a program that was grounded in a solid core curriculum with a focus on quantitative skill-building and data analytics. Second, I evaluated the companies and firms where alumni worked to better understand networking and internship opportunities. And third, having attended a fairly large undergraduate school, I was looking for a smaller MBA program that provided a tight-knit community where every student is known not just by name, but also by story. In terms of evaluating culture, I arranged one-on-one phone calls with current students, alumni and the admissions team to understand the real student experience.

Olin ended up being the perfect blend of community, academic rigor and a global business mindset within a large university system, which as an MBA means you have an incredible extended alumni network. Olin’s philosophy and MBA core curriculum center on data-driven and values-based decision making, which is a powerful framework for evaluating today’s business problems. And according to Forté Foundation, Olin is the closest business school to achieving gender parity at 49% women.

A big decision

Deciding to pursue a full-time MBA is a big decision—leaving your job, foregoing a regular salary and often moving to a new city. And it’s a leap of faith. You’re saying “yes” to the unknown and hoping that the experience matches your expectation. My MBA experience has far surpassed that.

It started with a six-week global immersion program, which is brand new to Olin this year. After a week of orientation, we packed our bags and traveled from St. Louis to DC, Barcelona, Beijing and Shanghai with our entire first-year MBA class.

In each location, we attended lectures, met with business leaders and immersed ourselves in consulting projects with local companies tackling questions like this: How does a family-owned winery in Barcelona price and launch a new variety of rosé in the United States? This not only formed an intense bond throughout our class, but also it gave us a common and more nuanced view of the global nature of business.

My mantra in business school

From an academic perspective, my mantra in business school has been to be vulnerable in service of new skills, to take classes that do NOT come easily to me. The MBA provides you with incredible breadth and depth. This past semester I have taken two financial accounting courses and corporate finance to provide me with more fluency in the language through which corporations communicate their goals and successes.

And I’m beginning to develop expertise and specialization in strategy and operations. For everyone, the mix of courses is going to look a little different depending on where you want to grow and what kind of jobs you’re looking for.

From an internship perspective, I have built valuable connections with professors, the career center and alumni who have guided me through my internship search process. Your internship search really begins the first day you set foot on campus in the fall and extends until about February of the following year.

I am pleased to share I have just accepted an offer in merchandising operations at Walmart this summer. When I developed my summer internship strategy, I knew I wanted to work for a large, innovative and well-run company. Walmart is the largest public company in the world by revenue, America’s largest employer and the only brick-and-mortar going head-to-head with Amazon.

The MBA is an incredible period of exploration and self-discovery. It’s a unique time to press pause and redefine your next step professionally.




In an event livestreamed to the audience of Poets & Quants, Editor-in-Chief John Byrne praised WashU Olin for boldly reimagining its full-time MBA program, interviewing four students, two career center representatives, two faculty members and Dean Mark P. Taylor.

The event today, February 20, 2020, in Frick Forum was the capstone event after P&Q named Olin its MBA Program of the Year last month. In an article at the time, Byrne had written that Olin’s faculty and staff had basically broken the mold for full-time MBA programs with the three-continent global immersion at the outset of the first-year student experience.

First-year MBA students Kendra Kelly and Jennifer Lanas flank John Byrne and Dean Mark Taylor at the “program of the year” party.

Today, addressing a crowd gathered for the livesteam in Frick Forum, Byrne remarked that he visits a lot of full-time MBA programs and sees a lot of tinkering around the margins as educators work on improving their programs.

View the recording of the livestream

“It’s highly unusual for somebody to take out a blank piece of paper and reimagine what an MBA experience can be,” Byrne told the crowd. “There are precious few schools in the world that would bring their entire student cohort out on a 38-day learning experience—around the world—and then pay for the entire trip out of the school’s budget.”

Schoolwide celebration

His remarks came in the midst of a post-livestream celebration featuring internationally inspired finger foods, T-shirts for students, faculty and staff and tables adorned with beanies and berets—a takeoff on the Poets & Quants‘ logo. Visitors were offered the chance to record a video testimonial about the program or take selfies with Byrne-approved John Byrne masks.

As displayed in Frick Forum, John Bryne interviews first-year MBA students Zach Frantz, Jennifer Lanas and Lungile Tshuma.

Byrne came to campus specifically to highlight Olin’s program in an hourlong livestream broadcast live on the Poets & Quants website and into Frick Forum. He broke the hour into three 20-minute segments.

MBA Program of the Year cookies!

First, he focused on the overall experience by interviewing Dean Taylor along with Olin professors Sam Chun and Andrew Knight, who taught during the global immersion. Segment two focused on the student experience with first-year MBAs Zach Frantz, Jennifer Lanas and Lungile Tshuma. The final segment focused on career outcomes with Jen Whitten, director of the Weston Career Center, career coach Chris Collier and first-year student Kendra Kelly.

“We were all outside of our comfort zones—but safely outside of our comfort zones with the help of the program,” Tshuma told Byrne during his segment, explaining in part why the program was so important to his development as a business student.

Focusing on the student experience

Ashley Macrander and Katie Wools — a poet and a quant.

Byrne focused many of his questions on the core experience of working on projects and experiencing the business world in the very earliest stages of their MBA experience. Chun, professor of management practice, spoke of the importance and depth of field excursions to Barcelona vineyards, for example.

“These are meaningful trips—not just going on a winery tour,” Chun said. “We’re thinking about how a family (at the vineyard) thinks about wine and thinks about their values.”

“We learned business by actually doing business,” Lanas said.

Pictured above: John Byrne, editor-in-chief of Poets & Quants, interviewing Dean Mark Taylor, Sam Chun and Andrew Knight for the livestream broadcast today.




Byron Porter was intentional about the name of his young startup. “In an industrial operation, a hum is good,” Porter said. “It means everything is working and there are no surprises.”

With HUM Industrial Technology, Porter is taking that hum to the next level. Using “vibration analysis” and machine learning software, Porter has created a monitoring device about the size of a deck of cards to track railcar movements and anticipate when that rolling stock needs maintenance. In an industry where accidents are rarely small, Porter says ditching 40-year-old technology can solve three problems.

First, by monitoring vibrations—the hum—in railcar wheels, bearings and track, Porter’s sensors and machine-learning technology can gauge in real time potential maintenance issues and even estimate how long before a failure. Porter notes that the industry has experienced 125 incidents related to wheel bearing failures since 2015, resulting in $250 million in related expenses. In contrast to Porter’s real-time, smart technology, railroads today rely on “hot box detectors” spaced 20 miles apart that mea-sure when wheel bearings are overheating. “By the time a bearing is hot, it’s already failed,” Porter said.

Second, HUM could improve the predictability of shipments—a chronic problem. “You’re prepared to unload on a given day, you have a crew scheduled,” he said. “But when the train does arrive four days later, you’ve wasted four days paying a crew for each of those days because you thought the train would arrive.”

Finally, Porter says his innovation could improve safety in the compact, busy and notoriously dangerous railyards where manufacturers receive goods. A more sophisticated, real-time system using machine learning could create a clearer digital map for operators to monitor railcar movement.

“I’m an engineer, and engineers like to solve problems,” he said. “You see people get hurt and operational headaches and you think there has to be a better way. Because I can see a better way, I want to make that happen.”

THE FACTS

Startup Stats

  • Established as an LLC on April 12, 2019, and developing as a bootstrap operation at this point.
  • 4 million railcars are in operation globally.
  • 40-year-old technology tracks railcars and monitors for maintenance issues.
  • HUM applies machine learning and “vibration analysis” to anticipate maintenance issues and track rolling stock.

Team

  • Byron Porter, MBA ’20Founder, CEO and lone employee right now

Competition Participation

  • Third-place, receiving $2,500, in the April 17, 2019, Skandalaris Venture Competition
  • Recipient of a $1,000 grant from the Holekamp Seed Fund

More information: humindustrial.com




Shirley (Jingxuan) Zhou, MSCA ’19, wrote this on behalf of her team for the Center for Experiential Learning.

Edward Jones, a full-service brokerage firm with a high reputation, concentrates on working with serious, long-term investors across both the United States and Canada. With more than 18,000 financial advisers, the company helps clients make sense of investing. At Edward Jones, each financial adviser has their own website, allowing clients to get to know more about the advisers and their business.

During the past four months, a team of two MBA and four MSCA students cooperated closely with Edward Jones’s marketing team and analytics team to explore customer behavior on these sites and measure the effectiveness of the advisers’ microsites.

In the meantime, professor Seethu Seetharaman and Michael Wall also provided constructive guidance on data processing and marketing strategies, ensuring the project was at the right track.

Using data analytics to make an impact

The whole process could be divided into four steps:

  • Identify if customized microsites provide benefits over standard microsites.
  • If they do, explore the optimal level of customization.
  • Discover driving factors that lead to customization by an adviser.
  • Provide business insights and recommendations obtained through the analysis to improve microsite performance.

On December 5, the team visited the headquarter of Edward Jones, delivering the final presentations to both marketing team and analytics team. According to different audiences, the team had different focuses. After showing the data analysis results, key insights and recommendations, both teams were impressed about their work.

Real-world experience

The CEL practicum has offered the team a great opportunity to apply data analytics skills to real business world. While leveraging the analytical skills and business sense to help Edward Jones better optimize its business-decision process, the team also gained a lot of experience and knowledge on team collaboration and communication. This is definitely an amazing experience for every team member.

Pictured above: Madhuri Mada, MBA ’20; Gaurav Malik, MBA/MSCA, x’20; Sabrina Alexandre, MSCA ’19; Shirley Zhou, MSCA ’19; Katherine Yin, MSCA ’19; and Max Jiang, MSCA ’19.




Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Ian Belkin, who worked with MUTE International in Shanghai.

I spent my summer interning at a startup in Shanghai named MUTE International. MUTE is an acronym for Multiple Urban Transport Evolution. The company provides green, energy efficient, electric scooters to consumers, eschewing ownership in favor of month-to-month usership.

The business model is similar to the WeWork or Cort models, but functions in the transportation space through an app that provides a streamlined and frictionless set-up, requiring no down payment or credit card.

My role as an intern has comprised creating cashflow and other financial projections of expected growth as well as constructing pitch decks to court potential investors in future rounds of funding.

One fear inevitably shared by participants in internships with such truncated timelines is that the challenges and responsibilities conferred upon them will be rote and lack significance. Fortunately, my personal experience at MUTE has been quite the opposite.

There exists a plethora of substantive, engaging and challenging assignments to be tackled. Since its inception, MUTE has been aggressively expanding into nascent markets and now boasts offices across three continents, in locations as diverse as London, Bali, Shanghai, Perth, and Lyon.

A large portion of my early efforts were spent investigating the financial viability of three additional proposed outlets in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Ho Chi Minh City (to my great disappointment, I was not invited to participate in the on-the-ground due diligence in any of these exotic locales).

Accounting for the nuances associated with breaching new markets is an interdisciplinary exercise: marketing and scaling bleed into operations and logistics, all of which are framed and constrained by the vagaries and realities of financing.

This internship experience has provided ample opportunity to develop and meld the various core tenets of business espoused in the first year of our Olin MBA program.

Inevitably, start-ups succeed based on the unbridled passion and proclivity towards masochism of their founding members. MUTE is the brainchild of Patrick Davin, an intrepid and indefatigable Aussie with 25 years of experience in the electric scooter market and a successful IPO already to his credit.

Beyond the evolution of my technical skills, bearing consistent witness to Patrick’s inimitable enthusiasm and perseverance were the most valuable commodity I left with. Leadership, another often-touched upon trope within Olin is not only preached, but practiced on a daily basis at MUTE.

I feel fortunate to have earned the opportunity to learn directly from Patrick, and hope to impart my newly acquired wisdom upon my return to Olin and upon all future endeavors thereafter.




Submitted to Olin Blog by Leslie Ann Ramey, MBA ’20, vice president of marketing and communications for Olin Women in Business.

On Saturday, February 15, members of the WashU and St. Louis community will come together to celebrate and support future women leaders at the annual Olin Women in Business Auction.

This student-driven fundraising tradition goes back more than a decade as a signature event hosted by Olin Women in Business (OWIB), and it provides a great way for the community to come together in support of a meaningful cause: raising scholarship funds for incoming MBA women. 

When considering the business leader landscape, it’s easy to see why this cause is a significant one: Currently, only 5% of S&P 500 CEOs are women, and research has shown that 40% of these women hold MBAs. For many who hope to cultivate diversity in leadership, supporting women in pursuing their graduate education can be a great first step. 

“Having a scholarship … allowed me to truly consider the best program for me, the best school for me and where I really felt at home,” says Natacha Arora, MBA 2020 and OWIB Scholarship recipient. “Knowing that someone believes in you enough to support you and donate is an incredible feeling.”

This year is particularly exciting for an event that is all about supporting future women in leadership. In November, Forte Foundation—a nonprofit that supports the advancement of women and gender parity in business school—recognized Olin Business School for leading business schools in achieving gender parity with 49% women enrolled. 

Having community support in the form of raising dedicated scholarship funds for women has historically made an impact in helping Olin achieve this level of enrollment by women. An anonymous past scholarship recipient recently shared how OWIB helped shape her experience at Olin and beyond: “I’m so grateful for the OWIB scholarship, and I couldn’t have attended Olin without this financial support. Four years ago I started the MBA program, and it transformed my life. Now two years into a major career pivot, I can see what doors OWIB’s funding opened for me—new abilities in self-confidence, critical inquiry, meaningful relationship-building, and exploration through global travel and learning.”

This year, the fundraiser has already benefited from the generosity of the Olin and greater St. Louis communities, receiving more than 60 donated auction items. OWIB is also welcoming back alumnus and professional auctioneer Curtis James, PMBA 40, for the live auction portion of the evening. Attendees will enjoy bidding on a variety of auction items including group culinary experiences, vacation getaways, wine tastings, and tickets for Blues and Cardinals games.

For those interested in supporting the Olin Women in Business Scholarship, the fundraising campaign will continue through International Women’s Day in March and donations will be accepted online at wustl.advancementform.com/campaign/owib. Together, we can all help women shine brighter as leaders of tomorrow.