Tag: Lifelong Learning



Olin’s Weston Career Center has begun an initiative to identify international job opportunities for Chinese students in its programs—as well as any other students seeking employment in Asia—by expanding the school’s network of communication among Olin alums abroad. The initiative recently garnered accolades from a consortium of universities.

Last month, Olin’s Weston Career Center hosted a virtual event based in China called the Specialized Master’s Program Summit as one of the first steps in this exciting initiative. The summit was the first event of its kind for the Olin community, connecting students and alumni around the world virtually and featuring panels, speakers and direct meetings between students and companies across various industries.

Di Lu, the corporate manager for the Weston Career Center out of Asia, has accepted three American Universities’ China Association (AUCA) awards on behalf of Olin Business School this year, and is a crucial part of Olin’s drive to increase engagement in China.

She was excited about the outcome of Olin’s first virtual SMP Summit and believes that its newly virtual format “helped make [the event] happen,” because it allowed facilitators to connect “more people across more locations.” Thanks to the unifying force of the internet, the SMP Summit featured almost 20 alums located in cities across Asia who were involved in one-on-one networking sessions with students, as well as multiple guest speakers from high-profile companies.

The WCC’s interest in connecting students with alumni in China comes from a pre-existing, strong network across the United States that continues to provide resources for students to build a career domestically. However, according to Lu, many students’ career interests are starting to shift to companies and firms in Asia.

According to Lu, this initiative is a prime example of how the WCC and Olin are “a student-centered school and career center” that are willing to make big commitments in order to serve students’ needs. She also sees it as evidence that Olin is an increasingly “globally minded” school that seeks to provide students with opportunities around the world, while also keeping them connected to resources and opportunities here in St. Louis.

The WCC is also expanding its initiative to provide student resources and alumni networks across China with various programs and events outside of the recent SMP Summit. Lu explained that the center is promoting a joint alumni engagement and corporate partner program to develop relationships between hiring partners, alumni, and current Olin juniors and seniors in cities across China.

The center is putting on four virtual career fairs, more than 20 company information sessions, and a series of industry panels throughout the school year in collaboration with the AUCA.

Lu hopes that this WCC initiative will “help maintain a strong connection between the Olin community and students/alums even after they leave the US.” She believes that events linking Olin’s current students with alums and community members based in Asia will “cultivate the culture of Olin people helping each other,” a culture that is so important to every member of the Washington University community.

For students and alums interested in connecting with industry and community members across China, visit the WCC to take advantage of these exciting new programs.

Pictured above: Di Lu accepts AUCA awards on behalf of WashU Olin.




Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, wrote this on behalf of her CEL team. Editing help was provided by Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21 and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21.

Growing up in a family-owned restaurant, Fady Hawatmeh knew what it was like to run a small business. During the years when he ran a CFO consultancy firm in the greater Chicago area, Fady saw firsthand how countless small companies were struggling with the same issues he had seen in his father’s restaurants—managing finances and cash flow. That’s when he realized how systemic the issue was.

Small businesses typically don’t have a CFO. Now as an experienced CFO, Fady knows that no one in small businesses likes laying out 5-year financial projections, but understanding a business’s financial standing and cash flow is key if that business wants to survive and thrive.

“It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, you have to manage your cash flow and your finances. I knew there was a better way to do it.” said Fady.

Hence, he founded Clockwork. Clockwork is the only tool that builds your financial models, cash flow forecasts, metrics, and scenarios all in one place and in real-time. Before Clockwork was founded, Fady built financial models and cash flow forecasts for every one of his clients because 90% of them didn’t have one, and the rest were essentially ineffective.

As a consultant and outsourced CFO, he could help hundreds of companies. With the help of software, this number can scale to millions. In addition, Clockwork provides a platform for individual CPAs and accounting firms to offer more advanced financial forecasting services.

Founded just over two years ago, Clockwork has focused heavily on product to date. Now, with over 200 customers and helping save CPAs 5 hours per month per client, Clockwork is expanding its services in order to stay ahead of their competition. Clockwork wants to apply their early successes to serve to more clients, potentially expanding into new markets.

Fady is working on a semester-long practicum project through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning. With faculty support from II Luscri  (Direct of CELect), the students — Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, Julie Zhang, BSBA ’23, Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21, Mingqian Li, JD ’21, and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21 — will designate strategies to help Clockwork expand its product offering into the venture capital market. Venture capital firms typically have a large portfolio of companies they invest in, resulting in a strong need to efficiently monitor the financial standings of these portfolio companies. While we have only completed preliminary research to date, we believe that selling to VCs will have an amplifying effect on Clockwork.

Pictured above: Julia Zou, MSBA ’20, Lungile Tshuma, MBA ’21, Mingqian Li, JD ’21, and Michael Spiro, BSBA ’21 during their first meeting with Fady Hawatmeh.




The conversation began with a discussion one might not expect in a business school: how did OJ Simpson get away with murder?

“The prosecution had their entire careers riding on this case. The whole world was watching, and they missed it,” said Liberty Vittert, professor of practice in data science, during a lifelong learning presentation to 140 virtual attendees last Thursday.

Vittert revealed that the crucial mistake the prosecutors and jury made was a misunderstanding of data that failed to see through the defense’s misrepresentation. While the defense emphasized that the likelihood of a woman dying at the hands of her abusive partner at one in 2,500, a statistic no one could convict with, that statistic refers to women who are living and their likelihood of eventual death. The case at hand involved a woman who had been killed, who’d been abused before her death: in that case, the likelihood of her abuser being her killer jumps to 90%. Had the prosecution noted this distinction, the defense’s case would have fallen apart.

For Vittert, the O.J. Simpson case is a striking example of what she tries to teach her students: data does not exist in a vacuum. Though she noted a recent tension between a reliance on data and a focus on human emotion, Vittert explained, “the future is about bringing them together.”

Vittert is a data scientist, first and foremost—“We can get incredible things from data. Things we couldn’t otherwise see,” she explained. “But that data won’t mean anything if we divorce it from human touch.”

For the majority of Vittert’s presentation, she focused on four key questions we need to ask if we want to understand a statistic.

Who?

The first thing we’ve got to determine, according to Vittert, is who this data is about—and whether that’s the same as whom we want to understand from the data.

This brings her back to the Simpson trial: the statistic presented by lawyer Alan Dershowitz was about women who are victims of domestic violence and their likelihood of dying at the hands of their abuser—but what the jury needed to understand was the likelihood of a woman who’s been killed having died at the hands of someone who’d abused her.

What?

Once we understand the person, group or thing to whom the data refers, Vittert explained, we need to understand what we want to know from our data.

Referencing an explosion of headlines surrounding the role of chocolate in preventing Alzheimer’s in women, Vittert explained that the amount of chocolate one would need to eat to receive the study’s purported benefit from flavonoids amounts to twenty cups of hot chocolate per day.

“You have to think about what you really want to know,” she said.

How?

A third crucial question posed by Vittert: how is the data presented? Vittert used the story of a finding that eating French doubled one’s chance of death. When presented in that way, the finding is shocking—but a deeper look revealed crucial elements to the case.

The study examined men aged sixty years old—who on average, have a 1% chance of dying. When those same men ate French fries or any fried potato three times per week or more, their death rate rose to 2%.

“That effect is still bad,” Vittert explained, “but saying that we move from a one to two perfent death rate sounds a lot different than doubling your risk of death.”

Why?

The final question Vittert posed is one with enormous consequences for data scientists and marketers: Why should we care? Though this question is important as a person examines data that’s laid out in front of oneself, it’s also crucial to the way we present data in an attempt to make an impact.

Referencing her own research on the Syrian refugee crisis, Vittert explained, “We have to turn numbers into something people understand—and something that matters to them personally.” That means breaking down a massive statistic that’s too complex for our brains to understand, and relating it to a personal, human touch point.

And that’s the most important part of studying data, Vittert says. “Data is the closest thing we have to a crystal ball—but we have to retain our own experience and our own intuition—to make sure we ask the right questions of that data,” she implored the audience.

“If we’re able to do that, we can use statistic to deliver true value in our personal and our working lives.”




In the two-plus years since I became dean, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of emceeing quite a number of WashU Olin commencement ceremonies. It is my joy to stand at the podium and gaze at faces glowing with a combination of pride, relief and anticipation. I make a point of being the first to welcome them into the community of Olin alumni—a global network approaching nearly 30,000.

The challenge, of course, is where we go from that day forward?

For the alum, Olin can be a source of professional development through webinars, symposia and research. We can be a source of opportunity and career development through ongoing services and engagement with the Weston Career Center (WCC). And, importantly, I’m proud that we’ve launched new opportunities for our alumni and we continue to grow professional connections through networking events.

For Olin, each alum has the potential to provide career coaching and mentoring to the students who follow them. They can provide professional insights to our students in the classroom and through hosted career treks. Or invite students to work on practicum projects that solve real-world problems. Or recruit students for jobs in their organizations. And because of our alumni, who are generous with their treasure—as well as their time and talent—we are able to maintain and build our scholarships, programs and facilities.

Over the past two years, as we have strived to take the school even higher, I’ve become resolved to be more intentional about how we engage with our alumni. We intend to do more to maintain the strong connections between Olin and our former students, to provide a service to our alumni, particularly in the early years of their career, when they most need our support.

We’ve been clear at Olin that our mission and vision statements call for us to provide a return for our students over their entire career. Our students have had the Olin experience—the community, the coursework, the global projects, the collaboration, the faculty—and they’ll continue to have the benefit of Olin after they leave.

Once Olin, always Olin.

In that spirit, watch for more details about the ways we intend to enhance our outreach to and collaboration with our former students.

These initiatives fall in broad categories such as alumni engagement, lifelong learning, alumni communications and personal career resources—a joint effort, taking in the feedback we’ve received from our alumni and the work of colleagues in Alumni and Development, Marketing and Communications, the Graduate Programs Office and the WCC.

In some cases, our work is really focused on better communicating about existing services and opportunities—including career coaching and other career services through the WCC. These services are there and we know our alumni want to make use of them.

In other ways, it’s about taking what we already do to the next level. To enhance communication, for example, we’ve launched a quarterly alumni newsletter (watch for the next edition on April 23). We’re creating listening tours and a schedule of happy hours.

We’re working on symposia, luncheons and panels in various cities around the country, as well as strategies for more communication through phone calls, alumni profiles and more. We’re looking at additional conferences, special events and recorded resources for professional development and sharing WashU Olin thought leadership.

We’re focused on these initiatives so we may live up to our mission and vision. We’re focused on them to make the special relationship between Olin and our alumni more evident to everyone. We’re focused on them because we believe in that perfect world.

I want you to hold me to it.