Tag: mba

Maxine Clark, founder of St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear Workshop, kicked off the semester’s first Women & Leadership class with a story of her childhood. This is a selection of my three takeaways from her talk.

It’s OK to make mistakes

Clark explained that her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Grace, was responsible for imparting a lesson Maxine has carried with her throughout her life: “Learn from your mistakes.” Every Friday, Mrs. Grace would hand out a red pencil to the student that made the most mistakes that week. Maxine Clark noted the uniqueness that for once it wasn’t the brightest or quickest student that was rewarded, but one that had made mistakes.

Taking this lesson forward, Clark was pleased to see that the retail industry also embraced mistakes. At her very first job in the executive training program at the May Company, she had the responsibility of marking down prices with a very similar red pencil. She thought, “Wow, I’m made for this job!”

As a student, whose value is measured often by test scores and grades, it’s refreshing to remember that making mistakes leads to growth. Looking around the classroom, I saw many young women also relieved by the idea that mistakes can lead to success. Clark’s words came at an important time as many of us are soon graduating and starting a new life chapter.

Know what you don’t know

Clark proudly admits, “One of my strengths is I know what I don’t know.” This acknowledgment helped her snag one an incredible promotion. As a new employee for the May Company, she was tasked with the job of traveling to Asia to pick out products for all of the May Company stores. Maxine knew immediately that she didn’t know what the other stores would need.

Without the support of her supervisor, she had to take it upon herself to travel to the Pittsburgh store to see their assortment. There, she ran into David Farrell, who would soon become the CEO. Impressed with her initiative, he continued a professional relationship, eventually promoting Clark to chief of staff. Knowing what she didn’t know both allowed her to prove self-initiative and feel comfortable asking for help.

Enjoy the journey

Clark emanates passion. With exuberance, she described every project she was involved in. She ascribes much of her success to her passion and her ability to “enjoy the journey.” Starting with Build-A-Bear, she felt that she could pour all of her energy into the company’s success and growth because she felt so passionate. Today, she invests her energy in projects surround education, women in business, and the St. Louis community.

Pictured above: Maxine Clark, founder of the Build-A-Bear Workshop, speaking in 2013 during Olin Business School’s Defining Moments lecture series. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Zoe Hillenmeyer at Women

Olin Women in Business was thrilled to join the admissions team in hosting a Women’s Weekend in January. The two-day program invited prospective MBA women to visit Olin and learn about the MBA program, student life, and St. Louis opportunities.  (more…)

In the full-time MBA program at Olin, it’s easy to be intimidated by your peers. Students come from a wide array of backgrounds and experiences, and there’s not a single person here who didn’t excel in whatever they were doing prior to school. Everyone is remarkably humble about their achievements, so often it takes some time before you’ll learn exactly how accomplished your classmates are.

Such was the case when I attended a panel set up by one of my core team members, Jon Slack (MBA ’17), who is also a ten year veteran of the Army. Jon and six other WashU MBA and JD candidates arranged to sit down with about 20 cadets from the local Army ROTC Gateway Battalion; a good chunk of these college juniors and seniors from nine schools in the St. Louis area had just received their orders for where they’d be stationed next year, and in what branch of the Army, and my veteran and active-duty classmates were on hand to pass on advice about what it’s like to be an officer in the Army at a young age, to share stories of their own experiences, and to speak about success after leaving the Army.

Veteran and Active Duty members of the Olin Business School and the Washington University School of Law share their experiences as young officers with junior and senior college students from the 9 member schools of the Gateway ROTC Battalion.

Veteran and Active Duty members of the Olin Business School and the Washington University School of Law share their experiences as young officers with junior and senior college students from the 9 member schools of the Gateway ROTC Battalion.

The event kicked off with one panelist sharing how he became immediately responsible for a unit of over forty men, and as more of my MBA classmates shared their stories, I was continually struck by how much responsibility each was given at a young age, and how much freedom they were given in how they went about fulfilling their duties. Although the stories were very different, as the panelists came from varied roles and divisions, there was much similarity in the approaches each took to tackling the challenges of being a new leader.

Danny Henry (MBA ‘17) advised cadets to “be quiet, listen, ask questions, and start to identify who has strengths, what they are, and how to leverage them.” All the panelists urged cadets to have respect for the experience of their NCOs, and to learn from them as much as possible.

David Marold (JD ‘16) framed it as a people business: “if you invest in building relationships, your authority is already there and built into that.”

Charlie Hon, (MBA ’16), shared the benefits of empowering Soldiers to take ownership of their projects, and of recognizing soldiers for their successes, no matter how small.

Dan Vitale (MBA ‘17) reminded cadets that “you’re young, but you know what right looks like,” and encouraged them to “ask dumb questions, because everyone assumes you know nothing anyway, but all that changes pretty quick. By the time you’re a first lieutenant, everyone will think you know everything.”

James Jacobs (MBA ‘17) extolled the virtues of being in shape, explaining how an easy way to immediately command respect from subordinates was to be able to outrun them in PT. He also encouraged cadets to learn to prioritize, “you’ll never get everything done, so figure out what has to be done, what should be done, and what would be nice to be done. And never try to cover up ‘has to be done’ with ‘nice to be done,’ it never works!”

Nearly every single piece of advice was equally applicable to the business world; near the end, I found myself scrawling down notes not for this blog piece, but for my own edification.

The anecdotes my MBA classmates relayed were often ones where they’d made mistakes, or learned lessons the hard way. Their stories and advice illuminated a particularly salient point made by Tony Nuber (MBA ’17): “leadership is a process, not a state of being,” and each cadet had the ability to be a good leader if they brought confidence, determination, and empathy to their role.

It was exciting to see the incredibly accomplished members of the MBA and JD classes interacting with the equally talented cadets of the Gateway Battalion, and to watch one generation of leaders give back to the next.


Dear PMBA 40,

Well, the time has come. You’re starting your journey towards an MBA, which is the end of a journey itself. You’re past thinking about getting an MBA, studying for the GMAT, applying to schools, and stressing over whether or not you’ll get in. Congratulations! But it’s just the beginning…

As a PMBA’er who has a year under his belt, I thought I would impart some tidbits I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Get to know your fellow classmates – They mention this all over Olin, and they’re right, but you’re doing yourself a disservice if you graduate and don’t know every person in your PMBA class. These are the future businessmen and women who might be your client, boss, co-worker, or connection for that job you’ve always wanted. Olin graduates are going places and it’s in your best interest to hop on that bandwagon. Here are two easy ways to do that:
  • Go to After Dark – At least for the first six months. I understand that it’s easy to go home and crash after a full day of work and three hours of class but the informal setting is a catalyst for building friendships that will keep you sane during grad school. Yay for new friends!
  • Start a WhatsApp/GroupMe Convo – This will help your class stay connected throughout the grind. You’ll use it to discuss homework, make plans, study for tests, and overall relieve stress. Trust me, there’s a comfort knowing that 65 other people can relate to your situation. You’re also in for a humorous Saturday morning read when you wake up to 150+ notifications from your new friends going out the night before.
  • Know Your Strengths – For most of your core classes, you will be working in groups, which you’ll dread love. Figuring out what each person is good at at the beginning of group work will make the whole process of working together run smoothly. I’m not a numbers person but I can write, hence why I was the resident editor who provided colorful commentary whenever we were doing statistics homework.
  • Don’t Sweat the Small Things – It’s easy to get bogged down in the details, whether that’s the one question on your group homework that you couldn’t crack, or the case that you just didn’t understand (I’m looking at you, Finance). Take a deep breath and know that it’s not going to make or break you or your grade. You’re already juggling a lot – the additional stress isn’t worth it.

There are other class-related tips that I’d be more than happy to impart but those are better suited over a beer at After Dark. I’ll see you there.

Image: Lecture Hall, Kai Schreiber, Flickr Creative Commons

On April 10th, Emerson Auditorium was captured by laughter and some good times! The 3rd Annual SMP Follies drew a number of specialized masters students from all programs for a night of merriment, food, drinks and lots of fun! The program had a fantastic start with our in house talent Baihan Yu, drawing the crowds in by singing Micheal Buble’s rendering of “Feeling Good”.IMG_5387

This year’s theme was Superheroes and needless to say there were many jokes mined from the theme. The Follies are not only a fun way to look back on the year past, but also a night to poke some fun on some stereotypes and some observations.

Our show opened this year with Greg Hutchings taking the stage with his Jimmy Fallon-style “Thank you Notes”. The videos shot by our very own cohorts drew a battle between the theme superheroes and Bromance. Hence forward if you see a MACC (Masters in Accounting) student you can gently tease them about all the Bromance.

Our MC’s did a fantastic job with their opening monologue, their presentation of all the videos and keeping the Superheroes theme alive. Before I forget to mention, one of the videos also personified some of the Olin superheroes – the Professors! The Avengers of Olin was well received where we named our professors as superheroes.

IMG_5390The Follies committee did their bit in finding representation from all the programs within the cohort. In the spirit of the Follies, the committee also gave away some superlative awards.

The Masters in Consumer Analytics cohort deserve a huge shout out for being great sports and receiving the “Most

Who is that masked man?

Who is that masked man?

Anonymous Cohort” award with grace and spirit!

Of course there were staff awards as well, David McKee was named staff stud, and he impressed our cohort with his fluent Chinese! Bring on the applause. Another element of the show was an opportunity to make fun of our MBA friends. While most of the show revolved around looking at the humorous side of things at Olin, we also took a moment to look at the transformation that international students undergo when they move to America. We toasted and tasted some great dinner and shared some memories.

The third annual SMP Follies was filled with humor, memories, singing and some seriously enjoyable time. We also had our very own SMP Flash in the audience that night! Nate Quest brought his SMP Superhero spirit and it was exciting to see everyone catch onto the theme.

The night ended with an after party and relaxing conversations at Blueberry Hill. The SMP Follies was a fantastic way to bring everyone in our cohort together and enjoy the year that has passed.

For those of you who missed the Follies and want to really know what happened! I recommend getting a sneak peak on Youtube. Here is one of my favorite from the show:

Weekend Bender [wiːkˈɛnd /ˈbɛndə/] noun: A three day, 1.5 credit hour class that takes place from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, and noon – 3 p.m. on Sunday. Also known as the weekend from h***.

Alright, I’m being dramatic. Not only was my first (what I’m calling) “weekend bender” not bad, it was incredibly interesting and the sense of accomplishment when you walk out of class on Sunday is unparalleled in business school to date. Except maybe completing the Managerial Statistics final …

Even before you start business school, you’ll hear about “accelerating” in the info sessions, which means that you take more classes per semester than what’s required of you to complete the program in the allotted three years. Essentially, you set yourself up to finish sooner than anticipated.

There are many ways There is one way to do that and it’s by taking more classes. Your options are an increase in evening classes during the week (no, thank you – two evenings a week is enough), a week-long class (do they think I’m made out of PTO days?) or a “weekend bender.” These are the most popular because, as mentioned two paragraphs above, you can knock out 1.5 credits in three days (three days!!!!). As you might expect, these classes fill up quickly, so if you don’t register for them within a couple of hours (and I’m being generous) from when registration opens, then the odds of you getting in are slim.

Are they worth it? Absolutely! Let me repeat: 1.5 credits in three days. However, they don’t come without their caveats:

  • You have to prepare: For the particular class that I participated in this past weekend, we had close to 200 pages of case/article reading to do before the first day, followed by more reading between days. That’s a lot to juggle with work and your regular class load, so the week leading up to the class isn’t without its sacrifices.
  • The days can get long: Luckily for me, the class was not only interesting, it relied heavily on class participation, which means you stay engaged. Just remember to grab a coffee on your way back to class from lunch so that you don’t succumb to that early afternoon drowsiness. By day three, it’s more powerful than you think …
  • You have no weekend to recuperate: You know that weekend where you need an additional weekend to make up for it? Well, this is that type of weekend, except that instead of cursing your Mardi Gras decisions, you’re in a daze from 21 hours of class. But, you know what? It’s OK (1.5 credits in three days!!!).

As you can tell by now, I’m all for this type of format. I’m signed up for another “weekend bender” in April and I can’t wait to continue this pattern every semester moving forward. Seriously, the feeling that you’re that much closer to graduating is a high that will keep you soaring until you walk into Managerial Economics on Tuesday.

To my fellow PMBAs out there, any advice for how to survive this type of weekend? How would you approach the workload?

Image: Starbucks Addict, Spry, Flickr Creative Commons