Wilgosh is a management consultant based in Chicago. He’s a director with PwC, a leading professional services firm in 156 countries with more than 295,000 employees.
“These professionals flourish in the face of disruption and are quick with their strategic problem solving expertise,” the announcement said.
“As economic uncertainty surges, this year’s awardees are heavily relied upon to provide advice and direction to the companies and industries they serve. They are intuitive, skilled communicators with the ability to listen and evaluate the myriad of considerations when making big complex decisions.”
Wilgosh is a leader within PwC’s cloud & digital practice who guides Fortune 500 clients through complex business transformations. He digitizes their financials, supply chain, planning and budgeting, customer relationship management and human capital functions.
He serves on the Olin Advisory Board, the Dartmouth Hockey Alumni Advisory Board and the Oracle Cloud Planning & Manufacturing Field Advisory Board.
“My Olin MBA helped shape how I think about problems and opportunities,” Wilgosh told the Olin Blog.
“I continue to lean on Olin’s values-based, data-driven learnings, which cultivated a global-mindedness, coupled with experiential learning, analytical rigor and an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Olin prepared him to lead large, diverse teams, he said. “It’s more than just a myopic focus on improving the bottom line. Its about driving sustainable outcomes that adhere to our values.”
In addition to his MBA, Wilgosh graduated from Dartmouth College with an undergraduate degree in environmental studies.
Reports from GetSmarter support the accuracy of those findings, revealing that 83% of companies said they planned to onboard MBAs in 2021. In other words, you’re on the right track if you’re considering pursuing an MBA degree through a rock-solid program delivered by a school with a strong reputation.
MBA seekers want to augment their undergraduate learning with the broad, comprehensive knowledge of managing a business enterprise and the skill set provided by an MBA. Another reason prospective students seek an MBA is career switching, and employees whose MBA curricula included coursework devoted to understanding the basics of managing others in the fields of analytics and technology are highly valuable in today’s data-intensive landscape.
No matter why you keep coming back to the idea of getting into an MBA program, you may find it helpful to identify yourself as a specific type of graduate student. Generally speaking, the majority of MBA students are either accelerators or pivoters.
Which type of MBA student are you?
From a broad standpoint, accelerators tend to be people whose career path includes ambitious “climb the ladder” goals. Typically, accelerators feel like they can’t take their next big step without a stronger understanding of the variety of functional areas important in the corporate world today. Through their MBA program, they expect to learn how to think strategically about the enterprise as a whole, to identify the right questions or problems to be addressed, and to address them so they can snag key promotions and rise through the ranks.
Pivoters also want education, but they want to use it to change their occupations or industries. For them, MBAs are ways to get a foot in a new door.
Take Tyler Whiteman, for example. He spent 10 years in the travel industry and did regional theater working as an actor and singer.
Tyler came to Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis for his MBA because he wanted to make a complete career switch. Ultimately, he chose to become a marketing intern for AB InBev and earned honors for his performance at the seventh-annual PepsiCo MBA Invitational Business Case Competition. He credits his WashU Olin experience for giving him a leg up against fierce competitors. Having the support of an esteemed faculty while solving real-world problems and learning the soft skills that come from working with people and organizations that represent cultures different from their own are tremendous experiential benefits.
Find the right MBA program for you
To be sure, you might be a combination of the aforementioned MBA learners. Or you might fit into a unique category. Regardless, you owe it to yourself to spend time getting to know the lay of the land when it comes to MBA programming. So many MBA programs are available.
You have the traditional immersive full-time two-year programs. You have in-person part-time programs that take longer to finish but can flex to accommodate a busy family lifestyle. Some MBA degrees can be earned partially or completely online.
It’s fairly easy to find a delivery format that will work with your schedule and circumstances.
Format isn’t the only defining factor of an MBA program, though. If you aren’t interested in taking a standardized test like the GRE or GMAT, you can still apply for many MBA programs. A significant number of schools have waived this requirement. Because there’s no guarantee those waivers will stay in place forever, you may want to take advantage of them while they’re here.
Putting a premium on globalization
It’s worth mentioning that while you can choose among a variety of delivery methods and admissions requirements, you should absolutely demand an MBA that makes global business a central feature of its curriculum.
The world is shrinking. The more global context you can bring to your business understanding, the more valued you’ll be as an employee and executive.
This is one of the reasons a cornerstone of WashU Olin’s full-time MBA program is its global immersion program. This program happens at the front end of the MBA. Students start in St. Louis and learn the foundations of values-based and data-driven decision-making. From there, they spread their wings and go to the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., to discover the ways business and government align. Next, they visit Barcelona, Spain, followed by Paris and then Santiago, Chile. Over several weeks, MBA students get familiar with how marketing, consulting, supply-chain management, and so many other functional areas interact in a global context.
The global immersion program helps incoming MBA degree candidates bond with their cohort from the very start. The program becomes the basis for future learning and other opportunities, like the ability to take globally focused courses such as Olin’s African business class and exchange programs. When students move closer to graduation, they may be able to work with international companies. Case in point: Some recent MBA students worked with the Ecuadorian Soccer Federation and were able to join them at a game held in the United States.
At the end of the day, it’s easier to develop soft skills like empathy, teamwork, and communication when you’ve formed cross-cultural relationships with a variety of MBA classmates, teachers, and companies.
A successful post-MBA experience
The choice of an MBA program shouldn’t be limited to what happens during your coursework. Having access to career services matters, too. At Olin’s Weston Career Center, MBA students are provided with individualized career coaching and mentoring. This prepares them for internships and real-world jobs. As a “thank you,” many WashU alumni return to help the next generation of MBA graduates pursue their dreams and goals.
At a foundational level, your desire to earn an MBA shows that you’re ready to change at least a small part of the world. And small changes can end up having big outcomes for individuals, communities, and organizations. Whether you’re a pivoter, an accelerator or a one-of-a-kind type of MBA candidate, follow your instincts. The right MBA program can help you gain cultural competency as well as hone your skills in areas that are important to modern employers. It’s never the wrong time to become a stronger, more confident leader.
Megan Berry, MBA ’15, is the founder and CEO of by REVEAL, a turnkey pop-up retail platform. More about her company in a bit.
Olin tapped Berry to speak at our Leadership Perspectives event last week, “Start Me Up: Venture Capital and Transforming Traditional Industries.” She and Doug Villhard, professor and Olin’s academic director for entrepreneurship, talked about the entrepreneurship process, the ins and outs of venture capital investing, and digital transformation’s place for many sectors of business.
As a student, Berry came to WashU to earn her master’s degree in architecture. She did that—and more. “I’m the first person in my family to go to college, so it was super exciting,” Berry said.
Often, she would read bios of people she admired, and she realized everyone she aspired to be like had an MBA. “So, in my first semester, I kind of marched up to Olin” from WashU’s Sam Fox School to learn more. She met with Evan Bouffides, director of MBA admissions, and he steered her to the entrepreneurship program. She enrolled the next semester.
What attracted her to architecture? “For me, it was really about creating something that was physical in the real world. How can I create something that’ll last, and how can I create something I can touch and feel?”
What attracted her to business? “I quickly realized that there was a lot more than actual physical, tactile—you know—materials that went into it. If you really wanted to make an impact and actually build something, you really needed to understand the business side of it.”
She also learned she wanted to work in a fast-paced environment. “And I wanted to be in an environment where I had resources at my fingertips.” At Olin, she had resources. She was surrounded by people and a support system that gave her the opportunity to test an idea that would evolve into her business today.
“I could launch and then iterate and fail, and I had that safety net that was able to say: ‘Just go try. Go learn. What’s the worst that could happen?’”
Paid in pizza
Berry and a band of friends (whom she promised to pay in pizza) beta-tested her idea for a business. She had found a small piece of land by a fountain in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood, and she tracked down the owner. He agreed to let her borrow it for her experiment. There, she set up a pop-up shop to sell headbands, purses, belts and other things women in the Midwest made.
“Within an hour, we had paying customers,” she said. “You can’t get lucky if you don’t try.”
Berry’s company, based in Brooklyn, New York, was built to give emerging designers and established brands access to consumers in-person. The company’s trained concierges operate “reveals” in unusual locations for limited times. The aim is to make it easier for consumers to find products they love and easier for designers to be in retail. Overall, by REVEAL provides brands, developers and technology companies a full-service solution to test markets, build awareness, generate sales and capture consumer data with live retail experiences.
Berry has worked for dozens of brands in 15 US cities on custom pop-ups in spaces ranging from 36 square feet to 10,000, including sidewalks, hotel lobbies, corporate lobbies, festivals, universities, malls, parks and public plazas.
Villhard: “So you got this business going. It’s wonderful. Brands are learning a ton. I’m sure you’re having fun, too, hiring people, growing people. The pandemic hits. What happens?”
Berry: “It was brutal. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much my entire life.”
The pandemic threatened to unwind everything she’d built. Customers were canceling contracts. She had to let employees go.
“It was horrible,” Berry said. “But one of the most important things of being an entrepreneur is that you constantly need to balance what you want to do versus what’s best for the livelihood of the company. And it was extremely, extremely difficult.”
Berry has friends who kept on many of their employees for as long as possible thinking the worst would be over in two weeks, or maybe two months. But Berry? She said she was “ruthless.” She buckled down and asked herself what she needed to do if she didn’t have revenue for the next 12 months.
“People thought it was crazy.” They told her to go home and watch some Netflix for a couple of weeks then come back.
“I cut every single line item I could. And now, you know, 18 months later I’m grateful that I did that, but it was not fun. … You need to manage your budget like crazy. Money does not count unless it’s in the bank. When you’re a tiny company, a contract is very wonderful.
But if your client is bigger than you and has more expensive lawyers than you, then it doesn’t mean anything unless the money is in the bank.”
After she had “used up all of the Kleenexes in the entire island of Manhatten,” Berry started her company’s daunting shift to e-commerce. “People didn’t want to do anything that was focused on the physical world.”
But Berry didn’t know anything about e-commerce. “I’m not a developer. I’m not an engineer.”
Friends told her she had better learn.
By REVEAL now partners with a firm in the Bay Area and offers e-commerce services as well as physical retail services. “It was a very, very scary pivot,” Berry said. “Delegating is something I’ve always struggled with, but with e-commerce I was forced to delegate because I do not know how to code.” To get dollars coming in, she had to focus on a digital strategy.
The company now adapts to the same patterns that retailers and brands are going through as the pandemic continues.
“It’s like a lever,” Berry said. “We are physical, or we are digital, or we are in the middle.”
Meanwhile, consumers want products when and where they want them. “From a consumer standpoint, there is no difference between the physical and the digital. It’s about convenience.”
Berry said the shift was “a great reset where brands basically had to drop and become as lean as possible. And now brands are scaling up with a tremendously enhanced skill set that covers both the physical and the digital.”
The physical retail environment, however, never will be fully replaced, she said, “because we’re human beings. We like engaging with people. We like engaging all of our senses. We like to touch things and smell things and be in new environments.”
Part of a series about summer internships from Olin MBA ’20 students. Today we hear from Nathan Boerneke, who worked as a business management intern for the National Park Service.
I had an opportunity this summer to spend my time assisting and learning within an organization I have always been passionate about: the National Park Service.
The business plan internship is a consulting internship focused on solving complex problems while navigating the nuances of a mission-driven service. I was teamed with a fellow intern to create a strategic plan for Buffalo National River in Northern Arkansas.
I prepared for the interview through case prep practice and speaking with former interns from various MBA programs. Most importantly, I clearly understood how I aligned with the mission of the park service, which allowed me to communicate my passion for the role.
Olin prepared me with the skills to provide immediate value to the park. I continually fell back on my education to address challenges in a formulaic manner. Additionally, my project with the Center for Experiential Learning was a fantastic precursor to assist in managing executive communication.
The internship was a great opportunity to apply the skills I am learning in the classroom and from my peers. It renewed my excitement to take advantage of every opportunity available at Olin as I enter my final year.
A day in the life
I started every day by waking up in a national park. My co-consultant and I drove the 5 miles of dirt road out of the park and commuted to headquarters located in the big city of Harrison (population 13,000). The morning typically consisted of data analysis regarding visitor information, financials, and various other park specific data pools.
The afternoon entailed driving around the park to interview staff and see how areas of the 135-mile-long river way are utilized. After leaving the office, I typically spent my time further appreciating the Buffalo River by either canoeing, fishing or hiking around the park into the late evening.
The National Park Service internship left me with two primary takeaways.
First, understanding the mission of an organization is critical to provide value and ensure professional growth.
Second, the knowledge and skills taught at Olin are translatable to nearly any opportunity.
Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Ellen He. Ellen completed her master of science in supply chain management in 2014 before earning her MBA in 2016. She now lives in New York where she works at Deloitte & Touche LLP.
What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?
I’m currently working at Deloitte & Touche LLP New York City Office serving financial services industry. I’m a Financial and Risk Advisory Consultant under the regulatory and operations umbrella serving client needs in Finance, Operations, and Compliance area.
Olin education impacted me in numerous ways. I actually learned of the Deloitte opportunity via a 2008 Olin MBA Graduate. Academically, the organizational change and communication lessons were used in day to day work.
What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?
Professor Sergio Chayet has always been my mentor since I joined Olin as an MS supply chain management student. His advice regarding choices with my Practicum Consulting projects at that time, and later advised me to take the opportunity and join Olin MBA Class of 2016, no single word can express how I appreciate Sergio’s class style and his mentorship to me.
Additionally, Dean Kurt Dirks’s Corporate Strategy class also left deep impression on me. Via different angels from peers and also from movies such as “Twelve Angry Men” I started to look into the huge impact corporate strategy has towards firm growth for different industries. Corporate strategy has been an area I really want to invest more time in and hope to continuously pursue at my career.
How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?
I have attended Olin MBA Admission activity with Associate Director in the Graduate Admission office Ashley Lautzenheiser in New York City 2016. I have also met with Molly Mulligan from Wash U Alumni and Development a couple times when she travelled to New York City. The most recent face to face lunch meeting with Molly I also got to meet the Associate Dean and Director for Western Career Center Jen Whitten and was glad to learn of some changes that Western Career Center is embracing now.
Why is an MBA important?
To me it is not so much about different Business areas that I got to know via the MBA program, because I triple majored in Accounting, Finance and Supply Chain when I attended Kelley School of Business, Indiana University Bloomington for undergrad. However, the most important value the Olin MBA program brought to me was via different practicum projects, CEL projects, the amazing professors, and all the wonderful classmates that you can form a relationship. I got to touch real life consulting projects for both Fortune 500 companies and local non profit organizations; I got to be impacted by rich experienced professors’ thinking process; I formed relationships that can last lifelong.
Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?
I would say definitely try new things, including new areas that you were not familiar with prior to MBA, new friends with diverse backgrounds and/or ethnicity, and organize new events. Besides the academics, I personally involved in many things that Olin had to offer: President of Olin Women in Business, 2015-2016; Co-president of Supply Chain and Operations Association, term 2015-2016; MC for Chinese New Year Gala; XMBA Case Competition 2015 (Olin Team got 2nd Place). I was also Chair for the Olin Follies in April 2014 which demonstrated a fun and conclusive event for the year to Olin faculty and students with 300 attendees. Those events and roles completed me more as a person and set me ready for professional growth in the future.