Tag: George and Carol Bauer Leadership Center



Most successful leaders are able to point to a handful of defining moments in their careers – instances that defined the trajectory of their career and their company. Olin’s graduate-level course Defining Moments: Lessons in Leadership and Character from the Top examines these situations by bringing in notable leaders who exemplify both business excellence and personal character.

Perri Goldberg, MBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.


Managing change—even drastic change—happens more naturally if a company has built a strong, values-based culture, according to Alaina Macia, MBA ’02, president and CEO of Medical Transport Management.

Speaking to Olin’s “Defining Moments” class recently, Macia highlighted the fact that leading a values-driven organization helps eliminate the fear of implementing drastic changes—as long as the changes are aligned with the company strategy, culture, and values.

Macia provided unique perspective as the female leader of a private, family-owned business—particularly because most of the speakers for our “Defining Moments” class have been senior executives of large public corporations.

Macia started her career as a research engineer at the Washington University School of Medicine, following her undergraduate education at WashU focused in biomedical engineering. After a couple of years as a research engineer, Macia realized she was more attracted to business, and enrolled at Olin for her MBA.

Following her MBA, Macia worked at Maritz Inc., but joined Medical Transportation Management, her family-owned business, as an analyst, and was quickly promoted to director of corporate strategy, VP of operations, and finally to president and CEO.

Culture is a touchstone

A key to MTM’s success is its corporate culture, one that fosters successful company growth and an environment in which employees work hard but also have fun. Maintaining that culture is important in the company’s hiring practices, Macia said.

“MTM hires slow, but fires fast,” she said, stressing the importance of hiring the right individuals for the right roles to maintain the company culture and drive success.

I really enjoyed Macia’s focus on the importance of peer-to-peer learning and surrounding yourself with the appropriate individuals at all stages in your career. When she first joined Medical Transportation Management, Macia admitted she did not know everything she needed to know to be successful.

As such, she made it her mission to surround herself with those who could teach her what she didn’t know and support her through decision-making processes, company reorganizations, and dramatic growth spurts.

Finally, one of the biggest takeaways from Macia’s presentation was her emphasis on self-awareness. Understanding your strengths, weaknesses, leadership style, and values will help you understand your colleagues and guide you through your career. Whether you are self-aware or not, she mentioned that it can easily be learned and will only benefit you as a leader.

Macia’s presentation was extremely insightful and a fantastic way to kick off a great class filled with many successful senior executives across all industries.




In November, our Women in Leadership course had the privilege of meeting Dr. Yemi Akande-Bartsch, the President and CEO of FOCUS St. Louis, a premier leadership organization that prepares diverse leaders to work cooperatively in the St. Louis region. Dr. Akande-Bartsch spoke candidly about her background and what she has learned about leadership, starting her presentation with the adage: “The journey of 1000 miles begins with one step.”

Her point being: Regardless of where you start, leadership is taking note of what’s happening in the world and showing up. Committing to at least one goal—to learn as much as you can—can change your perspective, and ultimately, your career path.

These beliefs are both a reflection of her upbringing and her passion for trying new things. Dr. Akande-Bartsch had an international education, attending school in Ghana and then completing her undergraduate, master’s, and doctorate in the United States. She then encouraged other undergraduate students to see the world for themselves by recruiting them to study abroad.

Not only did Dr. Akande-Bartsch share her love for travel with these students, she also shared in the adventure of learning. By being open to new possibilities and assuming positive intention, one can really develop their leadership skills through self-reflection and self-confidence.

I noticed this in Dr. Akande-Bartsch’s mastery of the art of storytelling. As she walked us through her various titles and job responsibilities, it was clear that she had a deep understanding of herself and her core values. She recognized she was a driver and an agent of change, which ultimately led her to assume her current leadership position at FOCUS St. Louis.

Problem-solving is a key component of being a leader, both in our workplaces and greater communities. It was refreshing that Dr. Akande-Bartsch pointed out the importance of recognizing your own limitations. Being willing to delegate and coach others is pivotal when aligning personal and organizational values.

Dr. Akande-Bartsch’s spirit, positivity, and commitment to being a life-long learner are all qualities I’d like to emulate. How exactly does she do it? Well, her rituals include listening to NPR, taking phone calls during her morning commute, and hiking. She described her life as not in balance, but in a constant state of movement. I believe that Dr. Akande-Bartsch is the epitome of what it means to commit to an impact-driven career.

For those of you unfamiliar with the work of FOCUS St. Louis, I highly encourage you to follow the great initiatives the organization is undertaking—with Dr. Akande-Bartsch at the helm.

Dr. Akande-Bartsch, thank you again for attending the Women and Leadership class.

Guest Blogger: Olivia Williams, MBA ’18




It’s hard to keep the sighing, heavy-eyed students of a night class engaged. But on this Tuesday evening, I sat in a buzzing room—with classmates swapping stories of stuffing and stitches from their first Build-A-Bear experience. Taking the podium to kick off our Women in Leadership class that night was Maxine Clark, philanthropist, serial entrepreneur, and the founder and former “Chief Executive Bear” of the Build-A-Bear Workshop retail company.

Over the next two hours, Maxine took our class through her career journey, explaining some of the personal and professional decisions that she made along the way. From leaving Payless to launch her own company, to leading projects supporting education and nonprofits in St. Louis, Maxine embraces change while staying true to her core values. I left class that night with a few favorite nuggets of wisdom to carry with me:

Be open to the teachers around you.

Maxine has a very apparent appreciation for the teachers in her life, and she recognizes that they come in all forms—whether a schoolteacher, supervisor, or child (Build-a-Bear’s core customer). In being open to learning from others, Maxine has found the strength to improve from mistakes, the drive to rise to challenges and surpass expectations, and even the inspiration to build new businesses.

Passions change. Keep up.

At the heart of Maxine’s story is an unshakeable faith and courage in following her passions. With several career pivots—becoming an entrepreneur and then entering the nonprofit space—she has maintained the self-awareness to recognize that her passions are malleable, yet always worth chasing. By embracing her passions at different stages of her career, Maxine continues to feel fulfilled in her work.

Live and lead with authenticity.

You can’t help but love Maxine’s unapologetic attitude. Her words are charged with a certain fearlessness and wrapped in sincerity. Maxine’s ventures speak to her values, and she makes no excuses for conducting business in a way that is authentic to who she is and the things which are personally important to her. As her talk came to a close, she signed off: “That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.”

Guest Blogger: Neelam Vyas, MBA ’18 & GSBA President




The Bauer Leadership Fellows program is designed to help students advance their leadership capacity and refine and understand their values and strengths. A few weeks ago, we began this exploration process with our fellows at the first annual Captain’s Chair Meeting, jointly hosted by the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and the Bauer Leadership Center (BLC).

What we learned: the first step toward strong leadership is clear communication.

Our fellows broke into small groups to discuss various challenging leadership situations and how leaders can navigate them successfully. The key deliverable needed: clear communication among clients, team members, and advisors.

Here are a few steps to follow to be a compelling, communicative leader:

1. Set expectations up front

Ensure each team member feels equally valued and understands ways they can create impact. Address critical questions and conversations with managers or advisors upfront and align goals.

2. Provide continual feedback

As work progresses, each member should understand where they are excelling and falling short, so that they can continue growing. This continual loop of feedback is crucial for the success of a team and creating a strong outcome for a client.

3. Focus on results

At the end of the day, everyone wants to drive results for the client, and this is important to reiterate throughout to stay on task and maintain team alignment.

Session one of our BLC Captain’s Chair is complete, and you can follow along here through our blog and social media posts (@BauerCTRFacebook: Bauer Leadership Center).

The Bauer Leadership Center’s fellowship process focuses on robust learning and practical hands-on development through serving as consulting project team leaders for CEL Practicum teams. We will be posting helpful tips learned at various points along the way.

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, Bauer Leadership Center




Business owners trying to keep the lights on likely place “instilling culture” among their lower priorities (that is, if it makes the “priority list” at all). Articulating the values of a company often comes second to growing the business—but largely, that is a false choice. Identifying which values to build your company upon is an integral part of determining the company’s mission, goals, and overall strategy.

An upcoming panel discussion, “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs,” explores the challenges businesses face when articulating their values. I asked Stuart Bunderson, George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance and co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center, and the panel’s moderator, Cliff Holekamp, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship and director of the entrepreneurship platform, to shed light on why crafting values and a strong culture is critical to success.

Why is it important to articulate core values in the early stages of a venture?

Holekamp: While in the early stage, young ventures are evolving and still figuring out who they’re going to be when they grow up. It’s at this formative time when a leader has the most impact on instilling the values that will become part of company culture for years to come. If you aren’t purposeful about the values and culture of your early-stage venture, then you’ll end up with a later-stage venture whose values and culture are accidental.

Bunderson: In the earliest stages of a new business, every decision can set a precedent and become a statement on what the organization values and aspires to become. Those decisions should therefore be made with a clear sense of the values that founders would like their organization to embody.

What challenges do founders face in articulating and instilling these values?

Holekamp: Perhaps the biggest challenge is to remain authentic to yourself and to your business. There are lots of positive values in this world, but as a founder you need to emphasize those that are true to who you are. As a leader, you are influencing your business and its constituents with every unintended word and action. If you choose a company culture that is an honest extension of your own best self, then it will be much easier, and more likely, that your business will be consistently infused with those values.

Bunderson: Pressures to chase funding or make near-term performance goals can lead founders to compromise on values. When founders cling to their core values in spite of those pressures, those values become part of the organization’s fabric.

What role do entrepreneurial values play in family firms that may not be the case in corporate firms?

Bunderson: Family firms may explicitly pursue values that corporations would not, values related to things like promoting the family’s good name and broader impact, providing learning opportunities for family members, or encouraging family members’ self-reliance.

Why should founders prioritize values and culture?

Holekamp: Both employees and customers want to be a part of something that is greater than a mere transaction of money for goods or services. A company that honestly conveys values offers something more than those that don’t.

Bunderson: Founders should prioritize values for two reasons. Core values that are woven into the fabric of the company can be a key source of competitive advantage that is not easily replicated. But perhaps just as importantly, if not more importantly, many founders want to create a company that stands for something besides just profitability.

What do you hope business leaders take away from the upcoming panel discussion?

Holekamp: Entrepreneurs and small business owners have the special opportunity to leverage their own personal values as a strategic advantage in business—a competitive advantage that their corporate rivals should envy. My hope is that more entrepreneurs recognize this, and leverage it to their own business and personal advantage.

Bunderson: A reminder of why values should be top of mind as they work to create a new venture.

Register today for “The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs.” There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.


About Stuart Bunderson & Cliff Holekamp

Professor Bunderson is the co-director of the Bauer Leadership Center and the George and Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics and Governance. He is also an honorary professor with the faculty of economics and business at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands. He holds a PhD degree in Strategic Management and Organization from the University of Minnesota and BS and MS degrees from Brigham Young University. His award-winning research on issues of leadership and meaningful work has been published in leading management journals.

 

Cliff Holekamp grew up in Los Angeles and worked as an account executive for IBM in Nashville before coming to Olin, first as a student. After developing the concept in Olin’s entrepreneurship program, he founded a chain of healthcare centers which he later sold to a private equity group. Prof. Holekamp was the founding director of the Entrepreneurship Platform, was the co-founder and architect of the social entrepreneurship programs at Olin and at the Brown School of Social Work, and has launched several new entrepreneurship courses including programs in Hungary and Israel. In addition to teaching, he is a co-founder and general partner at Cultivation Capital, an early stage venture capital firm.


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