Deibel Family

Recently, alumnus Todd Deibel, MBA ’97, took a few moments to catch up with Olin Alumni & Development. Check out Todd’s thoughts on how his Olin education helped prepare him for his career:

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I recently acquired and manage a company called Second Sight Systems, and I can honestly say I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had in my career. This can largely be attributed to the high-tech industries we serve (utilities and communications) and the incredibly talented people I get to work with every day.

Our company focuses on three areas: utility engineering services, industrial wireless systems, and communications tower services. We have positioned Second Sight Systems to be at the forefront of supporting customers who are investing in the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) through our partnership with General Electric. We are also a tier-one supplier to Ameren for their Smart Grid modernization program. If you’re a technology nerd like me, there is absolutely no better place to be!

Olin certainly shaped me in a way I didn’t see coming. Through the Weston Career Center, I landed an internship at Texas Instruments and found my calling in the technology space.  Upon graduation, I took a position at Intel Corporation and had the fortunate experience of living and working in Silicon Valley, Germany, and the UK. I can guarantee you none of this would have happened had I not attended a nation-wide leading MBA program like Olin’s.

What Olin course influenced your life most, and why?

Operations with Dean Kropp is where I really felt like I hit my stride at Olin. Relative to my impressive classmates (kudos to the full-time MBA’ers of 1997!), I honestly felt over matched in just about every other class I attended. However, Dean Kropp had a presentation style and message that resonated with me, and it just clicked. To this day I think he’s one of the most brilliant, charismatic instructors I’ve ever come across, and his operational philosophy stuck with me as I managed multiple companies over the years.

(Quick side story: As I was getting to know him during my first year at Olin, I constantly addressed him as “Dean Kropp” (by his full name) and eventually I realized he was in fact not the “Dean” of the school but rather, “Professor” Kropp!  He never let me live that one down…God rest his soul!)

How do you stay engaged with Olin?

I have remained involved with Olin in several ways, but the two areas I focus on are mentoring students and providing scholarship funds. Mentoring both undergrads and graduate students of Olin is a humbling experience.

The talent level in these students is truly impressive and at times while I’m meeting with students I’m not exactly sure who is mentoring who!

I can guarantee you I get just as much out of our discussions as they do. It’s a great experience to get back on campus and to hear the stories of these students, and to act as a sounding board for career opportunities. In addition to this, my wife Jeni and I established a scholarship fund, and it’s been incredibly rewarding to get to personally know the students who are impacted by these funds.

Why is an MBA education important?

An MBA will force you to confront your weaknesses and help round out your managerial skillset. There is nowhere to hide in an MBA program. For example, no matter how long you put it off, you will eventually have to sit through a Statistics class! (Believe me, I tried my best to dodge that one.) But once you get after it, you begin to realize how quantitative theories are applied in just about everything we do in running a business. An MBA has a way of not only rounding you out, but also opening your eyes to a bigger world with bigger opportunities, especially coming from an internationally diverse program like Olin.

Learn more about Olin’s top-ranked full-time MBA program and reconnect with Olin through Alumni and Development.

First-year MBA selfie

I was driving to school for the first time in over four years. But this time felt different. My mom used to take my ever-embarrassing first-day-of-school picture. We still jokingly honored the tradition, but this time the photographer was my wife. As usual, there was a little nagging feeling of apprehension: Where do I park? Do I have all the right books? But there was a new feeling of intense purpose. If I was about to press pause on my career and invest two years to get an MBA, I was going to make the most out of it.

Cole Donelson, First-year Olin MBA student

We honored the tradition of back-to-school pictures, but now the photographer is my wife.

When I applied to Olin eight months earlier, the application emphasized that the small class size allowed the faculty and the students to really get to know each person’s story. My story is that I grew up in St. Louis and went to the University of Missouri to earn degrees in Business and Journalism. I moved to Kansas City and advanced through a few roles at a healthcare IT company over three years. Then my wife and I decided to chase a crazy dream of creating a travel blog (SwitchbackKids.com) and visiting all 59 National Parks across the U.S. in one year. Throughout it all, I always intended to go back to school and get my MBA. Now was my chance to start that new journey.

Over the first month of my first year of the Olin full-time MBA program, any lingering doubts about my investment in further education or my choice of school quickly evaporated.

That first day of school on August 3rd was actually the first day of the eight-day GO! (Gateway: Olin) program. I thought of it as an extended orientation, but I quickly realized that wasn’t giving it enough credit. We started two classes about critical thinking and leadership in teams to lay the groundwork for our next two years. We heard guest speakers on topics like personal branding and the challenges of urban communities in St. Louis. We were also spoiled with provided breakfast and lunch every day (one of my favorite parts)!

We got familiar with the Weston Career Center and its advisors, the online job search resources, and the five MBA platforms: finance, consulting, operations and supply chain, marketing and entrepreneurship.

Most importantly, we had plenty of networking and social outings to get to know our classmates. There were 132 people, and by the end of GO! I already knew most people’s names. The breadth of backgrounds, career experiences, and future goals were truly impressive. And, just like me, each person had their own unique story.

Cole Donelson, first-year MBA student, in Frick Forum.

The most anticipated day of GO! for me was when our core team assignments were unveiled—groups of five that did all class group assignments together throughout the semester. The groups were purposefully made as diverse as possible. My group definitely seemed to reflect that. With our different backgrounds, nationalities, and career paths, we all brought something different to the table. The diversity combined with common drive immediately proved helpful as we developed and presented solutions to the real-life business case offered by a recent graduate’s startup.

August 15th started our first week of regularly scheduled classes. Financial Accounting, Management and Strategy, and Managerial Economics were added to the list of two classes from GO!

Everyone takes the same core classes in our first semester before getting wide freedom to choose electives. As a business undergrad, I had studied several of the topics before, but I found the material was far from review.

Lessons were interwoven with real business world cases. Homework started fast and furious. And professors were both intensely challenging and always available.

Olin was quickly becoming my new home both emotionally and physically—between studying, attending alumni networking events or working on group projects, I often have 12-hour days in Bauer Hall.

A month ago I was returning from a year of camping and hiking where every decision and challenge was up to me. Now, I’m starting a program that I’m already finding pushes my limits and tests my thinking. My pace of life and learning has accelerated dramatically over the past month. Both my classes and classmates have lots to teach me. I’m energized by the thought of the endless opportunities. I know I’m in the right place. There’s no doubt.

This piece is one of a series that chronicles Cole’s first-year MBA experience at Olin Business School. Cole says he hopes these posts can offer a valuable, genuine student perspective of life at Olin. Be sure to check out Cole’s travel adventures on Switchback Kids

MBA students at Olin are in the thick of exam season right now but looking forward to the start of summer just days away.

Most of us have internships lined up for the next few months so it won’t be all fun and games. About 50 of us will be in St. Louis either working for corporations or getting involved with startups through local entrepreneurship organizations such as lab1500 (http://www.lab1500.com/).

Incoming first year full-time MBAs start classes in late July this year so if you’re in town early and looking for something fun to do, there are some great St. Louis ideas in this short film made by Anastasia Films.

Last month, a group of Olin Business School MBA students came forward to mentor young women at Marygrove, an institution that provides shelter, counseling and a safe healing environment to children and young adults that have been through severely disturbing family situations. The event, organized by Unite4Kids, turned out to be a great success as the MBA students connected right from the word go and formed a close bond.

The event kicked off with the mentors from the business school introducing themselves to the young women at Marygrove. The delicious dinner prepared by the Unite4Kids volunteers soon broke the ice as the kids instantly connected with the MBA group and we all got talking! The young adults at Marygrove were extremely happy to be around the Olin volunteers and at no point did it seem that we were meeting for the first time! In fact, these kids also made us to their favorite numbers!! Obviously, we rose to the occasion and matched them move-to-move! ☺

As I was driving back from what turned out to be an incredibly successful event, I realized just how much a little bit of our time could mean to these kids. For those 3 hours, we all became family. A big happy family.

Ah, another thing. Just about the time when we were leaving, a girl that spoke very little throughout the event walked up and asked –

When are you guys coming back?

That made my day! All of us collected the formal mentorship application forms so we can return to the kids and have fun again!