Tag: Full-time MBA

Abhinav Gabbeta, MBA ’21, writes today about his summer consulting with CognizantHe was invited to return to Cognizant full-time after graduation. His contribution is part of a series by students sharing their summer internship experiences with the Olin blog.

My summer internship was one of the most pivotal parts of my MBA education. It not only gave me the chance to apply specific skills I’d learned in the classroom, but also helped me to prepare for the next chapter in my career. After going through the nerve-wracking interview circuit, I was blessed with the great opportunity to intern with Cognizant as a senior consultant in their healthcare business unit, and have recently been granted an offer to return full-time.

As with much of our class, the sudden onslaught of COVID-19 meant that my internship experience was not business as usual. Every aspect of my internship was run virtually, including onboarding, day-to-day work, and networking. Quite frankly, I was initially nervous about this shift. However, I soon realized that in the ever-changing business world, this moment represents an important inflection point. I had a first-hand look at how leading firms address global adversity and I am now in a unique position to help create the “new normal.” I found this to be especially interesting and relevant to the field of consulting.

Consultants are known for heavy travel, immersive client interaction, and close team collaboration. The entirety of this business model was threatened by the pandemic, but fortunately, consultants are also known for solving complex problems.

During my internship, I saw how the industry adapted by embracing virtual meetings, while still maintaining close relationships with clients and delivering the same high-quality results. This new model has the potential to provide significant cost savings, wider capabilities, and a more appealing work-life balance for consultants.

However, this transition was not without its challenges; I had to manage learning curves for new technology, blurred lines between work/off-work hours, limited employee motivation, and difficulty with networking. I worked through these issues by being vocal and proactive, being intentional with my outreach, volunteering for more work, forming feedback loops with mentors, building real relationships with team members, and staying flexible in the face of unexpected change.

My Olin training prepared me to take on these challenges by giving a me a strong foundation in strategy and management, communication skills, and workplace dynamics. My internship also proved to me how important Olin’s pillars for success are (values-based and data-driven, globally oriented,   experiential, entrepreneurial).

When I worked on my main project regarding Cognizant’s 2021-2023 healthcare business unit strategy, I helped make decisions and set goals that were informed by industry data and founded on company values. I worked directly with off-shore colleagues and realized how to work effectively in teams around the globe and around the clock.

I jumped right into projects with all the responsibilities and expectations of a full-fledged senior consultant and learned through practice. Perhaps most importantly, I embraced Olin’s entrepreneurial spirit by taking ownership of my internship experience and building a well-rounded experience. I was able to create an internal strategy, solve external health payer and provider segment client engagements and develop new thought leadership.

As I go further in my consulting and healthcare career, I will take all these lessons with me and look back fondly at Olin and Cognizant for helping me to develop the skills and mindset I need to succeed.

Farmers today face all sorts of challenges, including labor shortages, effects of climate change, safety concerns and customer demand for environmental responsibility.

Enter Monarch Tractor, a startup that Mark Schwager, MBA ’11, launched with cofounders in December in Livermore, California.

The tractor is the first fully electric and driver-optional smart tractor. It combines automation, machine learning and data analysis to maximize farmers’ crop yields while cutting emissions, said Schwager, company president.

  • The tractor is 100% electric and has zero tailpipe emissions.
  • It can perform pre-programmed tasks without a driver.
  • Or an operator can use Monarch’s interactive automation features, including “gesture” and “shadow” modes, to have the tractor follow a worker on the job.
  • It collects and analyzes more than 240GB of crop data every day it operates in the field.
  • Using machine learning, the tractor is able to digest the data and provide long-term analysis of field health, improving accuracy the longer it runs.
  • By a smartphone or personal device, users receive tractor alerts, updates on current micro-weather conditions, detailed operations reports, data collection, analysis and storage for more efficient farm planning.

For a year, Monarch Tractor has been operating on hundreds of acres on a test site at Livermore’s Wente Vineyards.

Already, it has received “2020 Tractor of the Year” in the AgTech Breakthrough Awards, was named one of World Ag Expo’s “Top 10 Best New Products,” and was recognized in Fast Company’s “Best World-Changing Ideas: North America, Energy and Food.”

And hundreds of customers from 20 states and 13 countries have placed orders for the tractor, which has a starting price of $50,000, Schwager said. Shipping is scheduled to start this fall.

“Farmers are just over the moon about this thing because they have real labor challenges,”  Schwager said. “It’s not just labor cost. It’s labor availability, and it’s labor quality.”

Factors at play

Last year, those issues were exacerbated by numerous factors at play, he said. “One is the cannabis industry has taken people who would be working outside and given them an indoor job. Two is immigration policy” that has disrupted seasonal farm workers coming from Central America. “Three is COVID. You can’t have people clustered together on a farm all day.”

He said, “If you alleviate your labor constraints, that allows you to run slower, more deliberate, more precise and to use farming practices that are not as harmful to the soil” and don’t release as much carbon as traditional diesel tractors. Those, he points out, produce roughly 14 times the emissions as the average car.

Schwager said the most valuable class he took at Olin was a data modeling course. “That has served me so well, time and time again,” he said. “I would recommend that class to anybody in terms of just working through a complex decision. There’s nothing like actually being able to work through it.”

He also has remained close to Greg Hutchings, manager of business development at the Weston Career Center. Hutchings advised Schwager as a student and worked with him on his full-time offer from Tesla “where he did very well,” Hutchings said. Hutchings later attended Schwager’s wedding and has visited him in the Bay Area.

Schwager didn’t jump right in to the startup world after he earned his MBA. For his business school internship, he went to Tesla, “a company that nobody had heard of.” In all, he spent five years there.

One of the most important things he learned at Tesla: “The speed of innovation into the product has to be there, and it can’t be compromised. And if you put too many gates in place to bring that innovation into the product, you won’t make it. … Don’t be afraid to try things.”

Watch the Monarch Tractor in action.

Top photo, from left: Monarch Tractor’s leadership team and cofounders Mark Schwager, president, Praveen Penmetsa, CEO, Carlo Mondavi, chief farming officer, Zachary Omohundro, chief technology officer.

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. 

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.


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.


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.