Tag: Innovation



Alumni in the news

Retired US Air Force veteran Don Halpin, a 2016 graduate of Olin’s Executive MBA program, is the Healthcare Systems Engineer at the Jump Simulation Lab at OSF Innovations in Peoria, IL. He is responsible for supporting socio-technical innovation projects. In this role, he develops new technologies and processes – particularly the incorporation of aviation safety tools into the healthcare arena. Halpin’s second career at “Jump” was recently featured in The Edwardsville Intelligencer.

Don Halpin is a graduate of the USAF Academy with a BS in Electrical Engineering (computer design focus) and a MS in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University.

Halpin employs forward-thinking best-practices from his 28 years in the Air Force. His final assignment was as the Director of Safety for Air Mobility Command where he was responsible for the flight and ground safety of its 55,000 person operation. He was an airlift and air refueling pilot, capability planner, political-military affairs officer, squadron and wing commander.  Now, he’s applying his knowledge of mobility operations to the medical sector at Jump Simulation, also known as Jump, for short.

Jump, which opened in April 2013, is a collaboration between OSF Healthcare and the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, and aims to improve the experience of medical practitioners and patients through education and simulation initiatives. One such initiative includes printing 3-D hearts for cardiovascular surgeons to employ before surgery, an example of the high-tech atmosphere at the innovative company.

Halpin credits his strong family support system and Olin’s Executive MBA program as assets to his work at Jump, where he started working following his retirement from the Air Force. He was actively engaged in the EMBA curriculum, graduating with honors, while also fully engaged in the important work at Jump. Managing work, family and EMBA is a challenging yet rewarding experience for Executive MBA students.

With healthcare positioned as one of world’s most relevant and global industries, Halpin practices the EMBA pledge to take “business knowledge and translate concepts into real world applications,” on a daily basis.

To read more about Halpin’s work, please see the news article from The Edwardsville Intelligencer here.

CATEGORY: Career, News



Sports, much like business, represent a global entity. No matter the sport, the values created and embedded on the court, mat, and field don’t just lie within the lines. How can the drive and passion for sports carry over to society, where individuals can enhance business organizations and their own enterprises with their background in sportsmanship? In turn, how do sports shape society? The 2017 Leadership Perspectives series continued by discussing these topics and more at the Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center at Olin.

The St. Louis Business Journal’s Senior Reporter, Brian Feldt, moderated the forum. The panelists included Solomon Alexander, Foundation Director, St. Louis Sports Commission; Drew Caylor, Partner, Louis York Capital & EMBA Alumnus; Khalia Collier, Owner/General Manager, St. Louis Surge Women’s Basketball; Tim Hayden, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Stadia Ventures; and Greg Waldbaum, CEO, 3D Lacrosse & Olin Alumnus.

Each of the panelists brought a unique perspective on the contribution of sports, with commentary on topics ranging from the value of trophies in kids’ sports leagues to the recruiting of high school and professional athletes. One attendee brought her high school-aged son to learn from the panel’s experiences. Waldbaum pointed out that “grades and more grades” are most important in college scouting, emphasizing the importance of success in the classroom as well as in competition. However, he specified that colleges contact high school coaches quite frequently to find out how players perform as a team player and how they lead and show good sportsmanship. Much like academics, sports play a key role in opening up opportunities for getting into a reach school.

On the impact of sports on leadership, Collier noted, “96 percent of women at the executive level attribute their success to sports.” The St. Louis Surge players not only serve as All-American NCAA athletes, but also as role models and mentors, fostering the next generation of leaders. Caylor, who spent several of his early post-college years in the NFL as a center, is a prime example of how sports values also carry over to a business career. Caylor realized that although his true passion and talents lie more within the financial industry, he still balanced the technical skills necessary for the investment sector with the team and collaborative-based skills learned on the field.

In a similar vein, Hayden brought up a fun fact: “Junior Bridgeman is the second-wealthiest athlete”—not holistically due to athletic achievements, but due to entrepreneurship in using his sports salary to buy and invest in franchises both in and out of the sports world. Hayden and Waldbaum both agreed on how experiencing the reality of either a ‘W’ or a ‘L’ in sports educates a former athlete on how to rebound after a failure as an entrepreneur and problem solve when it comes to adapting strategies for business.

In addition to skills for the job market, perhaps the most applicable takeaway of the session, and of sport itself, is learning invaluable life lessons on how to be a teammate and an emphatic human being. Collier underscored that much more than stats contribute to an athlete’s success—character, she said, speaks volumes.

As the forum ended, Solomon Alexander said, to a round of applause, that the best translation of sportsmanship to society is “treating each other like a fellow human being in the most respectful way.”




The bad news is: “the money companies spend on R&D is producing fewer and fewer results,” according to Anne Marie Knott, Olin strategy professor, and author of the just-published book How Innovation Really Works.

Knott_chosenIn an article published on the Harvard Business Review website this week, Knott says, “My research shows the returns to companies’ R&D spending have declined 65% over the past three decades.” This decline begs the question and title of Knott’s article, “Is R&D Getting Harder, or Are Companies Just Getting Worse At It?”

Her research finds that companies are getting worse at R&D, but there’s a silver lining:

“It appears the decline in companies’ (and the economy’s) ability to drive growth from R&D stems from the fact that companies have gotten worse at innovation, rather than because innovation has gotten harder. This is great news, because the problem of companies getting worse is fixable, whereas the problem of innovation getting harder isn’t. The challenge, of course, is knowing what to fix and how to fix it.”

Link to Harvard Business Review


Professor Anne Marie Knott’s book based on her research into the connection between R&D investment and growth isn’t available until the middle of March, but it’s already attracting media buzz. How Innovation Really Works is featured in a column by Lee Schafer  in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Knott_chosen

In a book coming out next month called “How Innovation Really Works,” Knott lumps R & D tax credits in with a long list of other misconceptions, questioning the conventional wisdom of strategies like only chasing radical ideas or looking outside a company for new ideas, known as “open innovation.”

Yet she’s also hopeful. The conventional approach of having your own team of engineers and marketers solve problems still works. What has stalled innovation is mostly having executives routinely misunderstand the value of what they are getting from R & D spending. In other words, the innovation problem seems fixable.

Knott, who teaches strategy at Washington University in St. Louis, knows she’s a rare optimist. It’s now common to hear how we have run out of big ideas, as the Wall Street Journal recently reported. “My answer that is no, there is plenty of opportunity,” she said. “Firms have just gotten worse at the R & D they do.”

Armed with insights from her experience as an R&D project manager, 20 years of academic research, and two National Science Foundation grants, Knott devised RQ (Research Quotient), a revolutionary new tool that measures a company’s R&D capability―its ability to convert investment in R&D into products and services people want to buy or to reduce the cost of producing these.

RQ not only tells companies how “smart” they are, it provides a guide for how much they should invest in R&D to ensure that investment will increase revenues, profits, and market value.

Knott’s RQ research was the recipient of the Olin Award in 2015.


In her presentation at the 8th annual Boeing Center Industry Conference, Natacha Alpert, innovation lead at Caleres, spoke about the future of the fashion industry. She described how technologies such as 3D printing and body scanning are being used to manufacture consumer products with a high degree of customization, as well as how Caleres is using 3D digital design to decrease lead times and drive strategy.

According to Natacha, 3D printing, design and scanning are the new roadmap to the future.  She believes within the next five years, the footwear industry will experience a paradigm shift that will help improve the way consumers shop and, subsequently, will change how we will look at manufacturing design in the future.


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