Tag: leadership perspectives

Olin’s Leadership Perspectives speaker series culminated in lessons on leadership with Dean Mark P. Taylor and General John R. Allen, president of the Brookings Institution. Covering leadership skills in business, government, military and academia, Taylor and Allen advocated for globalization, collaboration and a strong values system. Army veteran Vic Fields, EMBA ’22, moderated the discussion.

Here are five takeaways from the event:

Leaders must have a global outlook

The best leaders look beyond their environment and into the world.

“It’s virtually impossible for someone to aspire to leadership without having a sense of global fluency. The more you understand about societies, economies and histories, the more you are able to lead and be a factor for good in the global community,” said Allen.

Taylor reflected on Olin’s commitment to global education, specifically the full-time MBA’s global immersion program. However, all Olin programs require a global component to stretch students outside of their comfort zone and provide them with a foundational understanding.

Effective leadership is a continuous learning experience

Although both have many years of effective leadership under their belts, Taylor and Allen agreed they are continuously learning how to be influential leaders. Finding a personal leadership style is shaped by career and life experience, so it should change over time.

Strong leaders fall back on their values

At Olin, we pride ourselves on values-based, data-driven decision-making. Taylor and Allen echoed the same sentiment. While data can change, a values system should never waver.

“In a world where there are so many conflicting messages and sources at work, we are desperately in need of young leaders who are willing to accept responsibility and willing to lead,” says Allen. Being decisive and values-based is essential to succeed as a leader.

Good leaders face risks head on

As leaders of their respective communities, both Allen and Taylor are forced to make decisions that require risk. In decision-making, it is crucial to weigh the risk by analyzing the data.

“Good leaders aim to succeed. Bad leaders aim not to fail,” says Taylor regarding risk-taking in his position.

People first

Thinking about risks and COVID-19, Taylor emphasized how students were top of mind. Understanding the risk of the COVID-19 virus, Taylor asked himself a series of questions: “How do we make sure that our students get a first-class education and still graduate? How do we handle the loss of internships? How do we get students back into the classroom safely?”

To learn more about leadership and values-based, data-driven decision-making, watch the full event here.


At the 2021 edition of WashU Olin’s popular “She Suite” event, panelists celebrated the achievements of St. Louis women in business and provided insight on how to advocate for equality in the workplace environment.

At the event, held virtually on March 8, International Women’s Day, moderator Staci Thomas, professor of practice in communications, introduced a panel that included Anne Anderson, MBA ’02, Khalia Collier, Erin Harkless Moore, BSBA ’05, and Marcela Hawn, MA ’11.

The women shared testimonies of success and failure, lessons learned in the workforce and advice to aspiring professionals. 

While their expertise spanned industries, all panelists spoke about the hesitation and pressure they felt during the application process. According to a LinkedIn Business study, women feel they need to meet 100% of the job qualifications before applying to a job. Meanwhile, men will usually apply if they meet 60% of the qualifications.

“Women fall victim to perfection and minimization when thinking about advancement,” said Harkless Moore, investment director at Pivotal Ventures. “Do not be shy about advocating your experience and how it applies to your work.”

“Women do not ask enough during negotiations,” said Collier, vice president of community relations at St. Louis CITY SC and owner of the St. Louis SURGE women’s professional basketball team. She stressed the importance of aiming for the extraordinary. “Tell your whole story. Be bold. Be confident.” 

Even on the hiring side, Hawn, senior vice president and chief communications officer at Centene, said she roots for the female applicants who do not shy away from negotiations in the interview process. 

While there certainly has been a huge push towards gender equality in the workplace, the panel agreed that there is still a long way to go. However, these women already use their influence for good. 

“It is up to each woman individually to use the chair that she’s sitting in to help progress gender equality further,” concluded Anderson, vice president of the Chemicals America division at Shell Chemical. 




You’re excited about dining at your favorite restaurant. You go to this restaurant only on special occasions, and you’ve made your reservations. You know that everything—the meal, the wait service, the ambiance—is going to be fantastic.

So now you’re at your favorite restaurant. You’re at the table.

But the wait service is poor. Your entrée is mediocre. Nothing is as you expected.

You’re at the table. But that’s not enough. Olin alum Joyce Trimuel, a career strategist and professional speaker, likened the experience to how some people can feel in the workplace.

You’re at the table, but you’re not welcome.

“Our conversation today is going to be on active inclusion with the focus of it being more than a seat at the table,” she said. “It’s really about having a voice and being able to contribute in a fully engaged way.”

Over recent months, diversity, equity and inclusion have become top priorities in many organizations. For Olin’s October 27 Leadership Perspectives event, Trimuel, EMBA ’16, discussed the importance of active inclusion and how it extends well beyond representation in “Active Inclusion: More Than a Seat at the Table.” She also addressed collective and individual responsibility for creating an inclusive culture—and the downside of not doing the work.

“I want individuals and organizations to leave this conversation more informed about what active inclusion is and commit to doing one or two things different and better so that we can all foster more inclusive cultures.”

‘If I just did a good job …’

Trimuel is a first-generation college graduate who grew up in Chicago in a working middle-class family. Her dad owned a small trucking company, and her mom was the office manager.

Trimuel had Iittle exposure to corporate America  “beyond just having the desire to work downtown,” she said. “I wanted to wear nice suits and pretty dresses, and I wanted to carry a black Coach briefcase. That was my ideal of what the workforce and what corporate America was all about.”

She said she was grateful for programs like Inroads, which afforded her the opportunity to intern for two summers during her undergraduate education. It gave her perspective, access and exposure to a world that she knew little about, she said.

But “I was very naive in thinking that  if I just did a good job, that would be enough to keep my career going and moving forward.”

She didn’t understand the nuances and the politics that oftentimes exist in the workplace.

Luckily, leaders saw potential in her and ultimately became advocates for her. They helped to propel her career forward.

“It’s more than just physically being there,” she said.

Full engagement

Active inclusion exists where  everyone has a sense of belonging and feels seen, valued, respected and heard.  

“It’s really about having a voice and being able to contribute in a fully engaged way.”

And that, Trimuel pointed out, is good for business.

If, for instance, you work in a human resources department, you pay attention to attrition and employee retention.

“Even if you are a consumer goods manufacturer, you’re thinking about customer loyalty, you’re thinking about employee loyalty.”

Are you creating the environment where individuals are bringing their best ideas, their best authentic selves, so they’re helping to solve problems for the company internally and externally? Are individuals able to authentically communicate? Is that welcome and encouraged?

Consider meetings at your organization. Perhaps a handful of people are actually leading the conversation. “I hate to use the word dominating the conversation, but they tend to have a louder voice and louder presence when it comes to the conversation,” Trimuel said.

“When you’re thinking about active inclusion, there are moments in time for us individuals to actually advocate for someone else and perhaps, you know, pause the conversation and open the floor for maybe those who have not been able to jump in and actually offer a point of view.”

Why is that important? 

“We need all of the perspectives.”

See this page to watch the presentation.




Get gutsy! Live gutsy! That was the message from Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour during her high-energy talk Tuesday at WashU Olin.

A Marine, Armour made history as the nation’s first black female combat pilot.

“If you don’t take action, it wasn’t a gutsy move, it was a gutsy thought. It isn’t, ‘Are you willing?’ but ‘Will you?’” Armour said in her talk before Olin students, alumni, faculty and staff.

After the September 11 terrorist attacks, Armour completed two tours in Iraq.

“I never wanted to be ‘one of the guys.’ What I wanted was to be part of the team: with one mission, one goal, one team that impacts lives,” she said.

On Tuesday, she shared her story of setbacks, challenges, adventure and success.

“Everyone has challenges and obstacles. But the key is, acknowledge those obstacles, don’t give them power.”

She also stressed the importance of diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“It’s all about access and exposure, and that’s why diversity is so much more than a buzzword. We are the gateway to how young people see and engage the world.”

We all have permission to engage, Armour emphasized. “You are your ground controller. If you don’t give yourself permission, who will?”

Diversity is one of Olin’s core values, Dean Mark Taylor noted when he introduced Armour. “We are gratified to have many different voices here at Olin,” he said. “And just as important is making sure those voices are included.”

Armour uses her voice. She now runs a consulting firm and gives motivational speeches. In addition, she’s the author of the book “Zero to Breakthrough: The 7-Step Battle-Tested Method for Accomplishing Goals that Matter.”

The event was part of Olin’s Leadership Perspectives series. Watch FlyGirl’s entire talk here. You’ll be glad you did.




Tanya Yatzeck and, at right, David Moons.

My first impression walking into the event “60 ideas in 60 minutes,” presented by alumni of Olin’s Executive MBA program on January 9, was that the six panelists mingling among the attendees were EMBA graduates.

That information was on the event invitation, but it didn’t hit home until I overheard them reminiscing about their classes and the fun that they’d had getting together in the years since graduation—just like me and my former classmates. The panelists were us.

Sixty ideas in one hour sounds daunting, but the simplicity of the format made it possible to absorb every single one of them. Each of the six panelists had 10 minutes to present their 10 ideas. Each had a theme, which kept the content fresh from speaker to speaker.

Gene Dobbs Bradford, president and CEO of Jazz St. Louis, used his musical training as a theme, while Jennifer Labit, founder and CEO of Cotton Babies, emphasized her experience in entrepreneurship. Eric Benting, owner and operator of Chik-fil-A, shared his  insights about working with very young employees.

Attendees at the EMBA-sponsored “60 ideas in 60 minutes” event.

Don Halpin spoke of pivoting from a military career to medical innovation, and Ken Yamaguchi about straddling both corporate and university surgical responsibilities. Jan Alonzo, an attorney, provided a practical tool box of tips, including counting good days, blessings, helping others, and the legal and business necessities of becoming informed about the problem of sexual harassment.

While I was there, I was surprised and pleased to run into my classmate from EMBA 43, David Moons, president at his family’s business, Anji Mountain. I asked him why he attends Olin events.

“When you work in a small business, it’s very easy to get focused on just what you’re doing and ignore some of the external factors that are influencing your business,” he said. “WashU events provide me with the opportunity to stay in touch with what other companies are doing and, more importantly, how some global macro factors can be affecting my business and my people.”

I asked David to distill the 60 ideas into his top three:

1. Pull multiple levers. Find your idea and make sure all of your resources support it.

David: “We have a major initiative this year with some patented innovation. I’m cherry-picking different things that we’ll likely do to support that launch, but we’re now thinking more of, “Let’s just pull all the levers.” We don’t really know what’s going to work, and we might as well go full stop as opposed to limit our financial exposure, because we want to make sure this thing is a success.”

2. If you think you know what you’re doing, you’re likely in decline.

David: “That is something that will likely keep me up and still does keep me up on a nightly basis. I think that level of focus—on continuous improvement and not resting on your laurels—is about trying to drive your company and your vision and what you’re doing to improve. It’s something that’s critical. We can’t be successful if we don’t do that.”

3. Use mission to inspire people.

David: “When I think about mission inspiring people, it’s not just my people that I work with at Anji Mountain. It’s more about using our mission as a company to inspire our customers to get further engaged with our business. We compete in a hyper-competitive market. There are a lot of major players that are established. We need to continually find ways to differentiate, and using and leveraging our mission to better position ourselves with our customers is something we’re going to continue to focus on.”

David added, “I’m going to take probably the top 30 and bring it back to my company and my people, and hopefully they can get something out of it and it starts a bigger dialogue.”

I spied another EMBA classmate, Ken Franklin, running out of the event before it was over. I talked to him by phone later in the day.

“I’ve always felt that I have a moral compass guiding tough decisions, but I didn’t realize that it’s a skill,” he said. “At the end of the day, you want to do the right thing, be honest, have integrity, and build character. That’s what leaders do. My big takeaway—big ideas come from the heart.”

Read more about the event and find a list of all 60 ideas.