Tag: leadership



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 ITEN Board of Directors has appointed Mary Louise Helbig the new Executive Director of the not-for-profit organization, effective immediately.

After an extensive search, the Board determined the strongest candidate was among ITEN’s group of experienced Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EIRs).  Mary Louise has been deeply involved with ITEN since 2014 as an EIR, working hands-on with many entrepreneurs and in ITEN’s Corporate Innovation Program (CIP).   Many startups have benefitted from her guidance and intervention and Mary Louise also works closely with one of ITEN’s CIP partners.

Mary Louise Helbig, Olin MBA’94

“I am honored to take on this role at a very exciting time for ITEN,” stated Mary Louise.  “The needs of entrepreneurs have evolved, and we are developing more rigorous programs that support them through the commercialization process – from concept to market entry.  Additionally, building upon the success of CIP, we are committed to increasing opportunities for collaboration between our entrepreneur community and corporate partners to facilitate innovation.”

Mary Louise has over 25 years experience working in executive marketing, product development, and business development roles for start-ups and companies with high growth initiatives in the technology, financial health, and education sectors. She is the former President of Virtual Nerd, an EdTech startup that received national and industry awards for product design, and was CEO of HealthyMe, a Health Tech company.  She has also held executive management positions in major corporations, including strategic planning for American Express Incentive Services and redesigning the high speed internet installation program at Charter Communications.

“Our search turned up many excellent candidates, but at the end of the day we realized we had the strongest candidate already in our organization and someone very engaged with the St. Louis ecosystem,” said Jim Brasunas, ITEN Board member and Interim Executive Director.  “Mary Louise’s experience spans entrepreneurial and corporate executive leadership, and combined with her exceptional people skills, she is the ideal leader for ITEN.   We are excited to have her at the helm as we take the organization to the next level.”

The ITEN Board commends the staff, mentors and EIRs who have stepped up during the three-month interim period to keep the organization’s programs and venture development services operating effectively.   In particular the Board thanks Director, Entrepreneur Development Melissa Grizzle and Senior EIR Chuck Vallurupalli for outstanding service and unwavering commitment during this time.

About ITEN

As a major catalyst driving the St. Louis region’s startup ecosystem, ITEN (www.itenstl.org) accelerates innovation across the region through targeted programs for both corporations and scalable startups that employ technology as a core driver of business.  ITEN’s programs focus on rapid market analysis, product development, connections to talent, essential networking, and for startups, access to funding and customers.  The core of the organization’s value proposition is for entrepreneurs to work together to build a vibrant innovation ecosystem across the region.   ITEN’s sponsors include the Missouri Technology Corporation, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Gateway to Innovation Conference (G2i), Bank of America, BDO, CEdge, Polsinelli, Greensfelder, and Wells Fargo Advisors.

Source:  ITEN News Release, ST. LOUIS, July 31, 2017




Alumni in the news

Artistic Director Kenny Leon and True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA, and TCTC Board of Directors announce the hiring of Chandra Stephens-Albright, MBA’87, as their next managing director.

Ms. Stephens-Albright brings an incredible depth of collaborative leadership and a successful track record of innovative financial campaigning. She is known for her business acumen in bringing people together, connecting marketplace insights, executing priorities and growing technical capabilities.

Ms. Stephens-Albright comes to True Colors Theatre Company from C5 Georgia, where she served as Executive Director. C5 Georgia is a multi-dimensional youth development program whose mission is to inspire high-potential youth from risk-filled environments to pursue personal success and prepare them for leadership roles. There, Ms. Stephens-Albright lead efforts to achieve financial sustainability, raise community awareness, optimize operational effectiveness and increase alumni engagement.

Previously, Chandra Stephens-Albright led innovation efforts for Coca Cola Company. For over 20 years in this capacity she built a reputation for directing productive teams, tackling tough challenges, and leading strategic initiatives. Specifically, Ms. Stephens-Albright guided the development of Coca-Cola Freestyle® in brand name, user interface design and visual identity. Before joining Coca-Cola, she was a Product Manager at Clairol. Ms. Stephens-Albright’s career began at Bristol-Myers Squibb in the Bristol Myers International Group.

As a dynamic and seasoned leader Chandra Stephens-Albright models and inspires high levels of integrity, collaboration and transparency with colleagues, donors, corporate partners, community groups and leaders. Deeply passionate for her community, Ms. Stephens-Albright currently serves on several Boards of Directors including the Emory Alumni Board, Atlanta BeltLine Partnership and the Georgia Charter School Association.

Chandra Stephens-Albright is a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2005. A native of Atlanta, Ms. Stephens-Albright holds a BA in Chemistry from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia and an MBA from Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.

Source: True Colors Theatre Co. news release


In its inaugural year, The George and Carol Bauer Leadership Center has hosted a number of events in which accomplished leaders have shared their wisdom and experience with our students, faculty, and alumni. One example is our Defining Moments signature course that features exemplary leaders from a range of industries sharing their defining leadership experiences. A common theme was the importance of personal values and ethics in a career and in the success of a company. We are documenting these stories in video vignettes that can be used to inspire students, researchers, and the business community.

The Bauer Leadership Center at Olin Business School develops values-based leaders—leaders who measure their success both by the results they achieve and the values they demonstrate.

We have spent much of this first year reaching out to different people to understand how we can work together with like-minded others to advance our mission. For example, we developed a proposal for a “community of practice” that brings together faculty and administrators engaged in leadership development across the Washington University campus. We are learning best practices from one another and discovering the potential for collaboration on common goals.

SAVE THE DATE: September 20, 2017
“The Value of Values for Founders and Entrepreneurs”
The Bauer Leadership Center is partnering with the Entrepreneurship Organization (EO) and the Executive MBA program to kick off the Values and Leadership forum series.

In the fall, we will unveil an exciting and unique program called “Bauer Fellows” in partnership with Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. Students leading consulting teams across the globe will be working on their leadership capabilities at the same time they are delivering value to clients. We are currently exploring other ways to build values-centered leadership into Olin courses and programs.

Finally, none of this would be possible without the generous support of George and Carol Bauer. Their vision, example, and energy for our mission have been, and will continue to be, an inspiration. We offer our sincere thanks to the many people and organizations that are working with us—together we can change the way we teach and practice leadership!

For more information or to join our mailing list, contact Marcianne Gagliardi at mgagliardi@wustl.edu or 314-935-2943  Link to website.

 




One of the most-explored and desired processes of today’s global business marketplace is innovation.  In this highly digitized age, where entrepreneurship and start-up ideas are encouraged and often fostered, traditional organizational hierarchies can be brushed to the side.  The power of a game-changing idea has the ability to transcend this traditional structure, leaving room for equal places of contribution to the table.

The most recent broadcast of the Executive MBA program’s “Live from Olin Business School” webinar series challenged the common notion that a leader should not be involved in the innovation process.  Stuart Bunderson, Associate Dean & Director of Executive Programs, the George & Carol Bauer Professor of Organizational Ethics & Governance and Co-Director of the Bauer Leadership Center, presented the webinar.  In “Leading Innovation without Getting in the Way,” Bunderson broke down just why innovation does not work effectively without the involvement of a strong leader.

By citing the famous example of the 1999 IDEO shopping cart video, in which an IDEO team redesigned the standard shopping cart in just five days, Bunderson showed how innovation is a process buffeted by the contribution of members from each level of a hierarchical system. IDEO, a Palo-Alto, California based invention company, had not formally defined hierarchy of its shopping cart team. Team members were encouraged to contribute ideas equally in the short five-day due date.

Buoyed by this timeline, key members of the team did help drive the process forward, each with a specific role to play. Narrowing down the best idea meant that contributions from the group facilitator, company founder and more experienced members led the team to a revolutionary approach to the shopping cart.

Bunderson emphasized that a social hierarchy helps innovation. Hierarchy is a natural occurrence because of differences in expertise, education, and other characteristics within groups of people. It contributes to the function of groups, most particularly where there is a problem that needs to be solved in a specific amount of time, such as the IDEO shopping cart proposal. These types of “problem parameters” encourage creativity, because time and resource restraints often can produce the most skilled outputs from group members.

Because of this organizational behavior, leadership develops. Leaders become moderators of sorts, making sure that voices are heard and the ideas of team members are not drowned out. This is not for the leader’s professional benefit, but for the guidance of the team and its product output. If there are disagreements, a group can be sidetracked from its goal and its organizational structure. A leader, produced from a social hierarchical system, will settle these disagreements and achieve coordination. In other words, keeping the eyes on the prize – a group or organization requires leadership to encourage direction over conflict, move things forward and foster innovation.

The ancient quote from Lao Tzu, from the Tao Te Ching, best sums up what Bunderson conveyed in his research findings:

“A leader is best when people barely know he [or she] exists, when his [or her] work is done, his [or her] aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

Please visit www.olin.wustl.edu/EMBAevents to register for the next “Live from Olin Business School” event and to learn more about the Executive MBA program.


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