Tag: Olin veterans

Relive some of the sights and sounds from the Olin Veterans Association Dining Out event on March 29, 2018, with this quick video summary. Here are a few details about the event from our earlier blog post about it, written by Sontaya Sherrell, MBA ’18, and an Olin veteran herself.

Among the traditional rituals at the Dining Out, guests were invited to answer for violations of the written rules of the evening by paying a fine—all of which supports the Olin Veterans Scholarship Fund—or having a drink from the dreaded “grog bowl,” which features a hodgepodge of questionable ingredients mixed into one punch.

A few of the lighthearted rules guests could potentially be punished for include wearing a clip-on bow tie at an obvious angle, using excessive military slang or jargon, or wearing clip-on suspenders.

Guests were expected to adhere to an honor system in recognizing their own infractions or could be reported for an infraction by another attendee. Balancing out these more amusing aspects of the event were more solemn traditions, one of which included the recognition of those who could not be with us that evening.

Stuart Adam Wolfer, BSBA
Julian Wise, LA '93

Julian Wise, LA ’93

Julian Wise, LA ’93, wrote this tribute to his former WashU roommate Stuart Adam Wolfer, BSBA ’93, an Army reservist killed during a mortar attack in Iraq in 2008.

This spring, I attended the 25th reunion for the Washington University Class of 1993. It was a joyful, fast-paced weekend, filled with alumni parties, volunteer events, and conversation with old friends. It was good to stroll the Brookings campus again.

Yet amid the merriment, I couldn’t help noting an absence in our ranks. The week marked the 10th year since the death of my former roommate, Major Stuart Adam Wolfer, KIA in Iraq in 2008.

Stuart and I lived together from 1990 to 1992, first in a suite at Rutledge Hall and later in an off-campus apartment in the Central West End. He remains an unforgettable figure from my Washington University years.

Stuart and I had little in common. I was a quiet liberal arts student from Cape Cod struggling to choose a major. Stuart bounded into WashU from Coral Springs, Florida, rock-confident in his plans for the future—business school, ROTC; an MBA or law degree after graduation. I marveled at his certainty, not without a trace of jealousy. Could it really be that easy to choose a career path without putting yourself through torturous mental gyrations?

Stuart was physical. He stood tall, worked out regularly, and carried himself with commanding presence. He didn’t just enter a room—he strode in. By junior year, he was maintaining a full course load, working part-time at Eddie Bauer’s at the Galleria Mall, and decamping frequently to Fort Leonard Wood in the Ozarks for ROTC training. I couldn’t figure out where he got the energy.

Lee Wolfer of Eagle, Idaho, the widow of Stuart Adam Wolfer, and ROTC Lt. Col. James Craig, unveil a memorial during the Stuart Wolfer Memorial Event at the North Campus of Washington University on April 18, 2018. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Lee Wolfer of Eagle, Idaho, the widow of Stuart Adam Wolfer,
and ROTC Lt. Col. James Craig, unveil a memorial during the Stuart Wolfer Memorial
Event at the North Campus of Washington University
on April 18, 2018. Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Stuart and I weren’t best friends, but we were always cordial with each other. I kept quiet in the apartment, did the dishes and paid the rent on time. With his hectic schedule, that was all he was looking for in a roommate. We would never achieve that sentimental, bosom-buddy rapport associated with college friendships. I was a wallflower, while Stuart’s energy was turned up to 11. By senior year we’d drifted on to other living arrangements. I never saw Stuart after graduation; we exchanged a few brief emails before falling out of touch.

Walking among the current generation of WashU students, it struck me that the people least like us are often the ones we learn the most from. There is comfort and ease in bonding with similar people, yet the greatest growth comes from encountering those whose temperaments, outlooks, and natures contrast with our own.

With the passage of years, I’ve come to understand that, while he was no saint—he could be stubborn as a bull when the spirit moved him—Stuart possessed qualities I have come to value, admire, and even try to emulate. He was loyal to a fault, devoted, hard-working, and relentlessly value-driven.

I suspect his energy came from an awareness that his time at Washington University was brief and he was determined to wrest every drop of experience from it.

Today, I think of Stuart’s three daughters, who were young when he died. I want them to know that their father lived with a spark that’s memorable a quarter century later to those who knew him. I’m certain he loved them with a power beyond words. To them, I say: Your father was a remarkable man and you should be proud of him. Washington University certainly is.

Julian Wise is the owner of Island Images Gallery and Genevieve Press, a small non-fiction publishing company. He lives on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. He can be reached at islandimagesgallery.com and julwise@gmail.com.

Eric Maddox, EMBA graduate, 2016.

Eric Maddox has been a four-times-decorated US Army interrogator, known for bringing in the intelligence that led to the capture of Saddam Hussein. He’s an author, who detailed the five-month hunt for the former Iraqi leader in his 2008 book Mission: Black List #1. He’s a motivational speaker, consultant, and negotiator. He’s an Olin alumnus who earned his Executive MBA in 2016.

And he’s recently added a new item to his long list of credentials: He’s now a podcaster.

Maddox launched the first episode of his online show “Creating Influence” on January 4 with a nearly five-minute introduction that explains how he has moved from a military interrogator to a professional negotiator.

“I was taught to use interrogation techniques that were zero sum game—they were intimidating, they were harsh—but I quickly realized they didn’t work at all,” Maddox says in his introduction. “What I learned to do was to connect, collaborate, negotiate, understand, and work with my prisoners.”

Now, he says, after 15 years of negotiating and interrogating, talking and attempting to influence people, he’s learned a few lessons that he says will apply to anyone—not just military prisoners.

“The bottom line is that when you talk to somebody, your goal is to connect with them, get to understand them, build trust with them, in order that they make a decision to follow you, to believe in you, to partner with you,” he said. “But all of that, that decision they make, that comes from the influence that you give to them.”

Maddox explains that the weekly podcast takes a deep dive into the psychology of influence and how to hone skills that will serve individuals in their businesses and daily lives.

Episodes focus on themes such as “the single most effective behavioral characteristic a person can have to maximize influence” and, in his most recent episode today, “what helps fuel hope, which aids in perseverance.”

Transitioning from the military into a civilian business career means learning how to adapt your passion and apply existing skills in a new way, according to three Olin Executive MBA graduates who highlighted their own transition in a recent piece published by U.S. Veterans Magazine.

“In the military, you’re always looking for ways to become more efficient to provide the highest level of service to your country,” said Don Halpin, who served in the US Air Force for 20 years before earning his EMBA in 2016 and becoming healthcare systems engineer at Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center in Peoria.

“In healthcare, it’s a similar situation,” he said. “I love that I’m able to aid in bettering the lives of our patients, and the EMBA played a large part in that.”

Eric Maddox, who served in the US Army as an interrogator, found he could make connections between his experience and his business savvy now as a motivational and keynote speaker who tailors his talks to his audience, reflecting business trends he mastered in the classroom.

“I quickly realized how my experience in the intel world and war zone can directly apply to businesses and private organizations,” said Maddox, a 2016 EMBA alumnus.

“The EMBA program provided the perfect forum to tie together and finish off the leadership, strategic thinking, and management skills I developed through my years of experience in the military,” said Harry Schmidt, a 20-plus-year veteran of the US Air Force and Air Force Academy who is now president and CEO of Passavant Area Hospital in Springfield, Illinois. He also earned his degree in 2016.

Read the full story in U.S. Veterans Magazine online.


Photo, above: Harry Schmidt, Passavant President and CEO. Photo credit: Passavant Area Hospital

We’re always excited to see Olin alumni in the news, and this interview with Harry Schmidt, EMBA 44, caught our attention in particular.

Harry came to Olin’s Executive MBA program with a full military career under his belt, having served as a pilot in the Navy for 20 years. He is currently the President and CEO of Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, overseeing 960 employees and a $120 million budget.

Harry was recently a guest on Beyond the Uniform, a podcast that showcases veterans and their transitions into new careers. Harry spoke with Beyond the Uniform Founder and Host Justin Nassiri about planning his transition to a new career, the leadership advantages veterans bring to employment, and his choice to pursue an Executive MBA degree at Olin. Check out highlights from the podcast, or listen to the full interview below:

When you were on active duty, how did you start to prepare for your transition?

It’s a great question because there’s a ton of uncertainty and ambiguity regardless if you’re leaving after one tour or after a full career. I started the process late, probably about six months before retiring which is not a lot of time. I was very fortunate that I had a neighbor who was able to help me through the process. This ultimately ended up being the tie that got me into healthcare.

When a service member is transitioning, I think it’s important to set boundaries and parameters for what kind of a job or career you want afterward. Otherwise, you could end up chasing something that’s someone else’s dream. It could be a fit for someone else but not for you. My family and I wanted to come back to the mid-west. That was the fit for us.

What the civilian sector is looking for is leadership skills—the leadership skills we have learned through getting a lot of responsibility early in our careers, dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. People in the civilian sector are looking for people that can handle these situations and make great decisions within volatility and uncertainty. That’s the skillset that’s transferrable regardless of your warfare specialty.

At what point did you decide to pursue an Executive MBA at Washington University?

It’s been one of the pivotal points in my short civilian career, and I don’t think I would have this role as CEO of a hospital without that education. As veterans, we learn a lot just through on-the-job experience. We learn about finance and budgeting through the money our team or department is allocated each year. But in a lot of ways, we miss out on the revenue side of the operating statement. Taxpayers are giving us our revenue when we’re in the military so it’s a little different.

Regardless of your specialty in the military, the MBA can be a good way to round out your skillset and learn about terminology. I initially looked at a school and started a traditional MBA program, taking classes at night. But it was a little bit disjointed. I didn’t feel like I was being challenged in a way that I wanted to be. So I started looking at different opportunities and found the Washington University EMBA program. In the Executive MBA format, we met once a month for 2-3 days and then worked on projects together in between those meetings. The format set me towards what I wanted to do. I moved through the 20-month program with the same group of people in a cohort fashion. We were able to challenge each other because we had similar levels of experience.

I would also add that sometimes people think it’s just about the letters behind your name. But that mentality will only get you so far. More than the degree itself, I want to know where the person got that degree from. I want to know that they had meaningful conversations about business with others in the program, that they had negotiations and debate. Work gets done in business through relationships, so I want to know that a person developed these skills during their degree program.

What advice would you give to a transitioning military member that feels intimidated by the thought of “starting over” in the civilian sector?

Be a life-long learner. Don’t be afraid to learn something new or take advantage of a new opportunity. Most people would be happy to sit down with you if you wanted to learn more about their industry or what they are doing. Use LinkedIn, make a meaningful connection. I would also recommend various veterans networks. I’m working right now with a group called Elite Meet. It’s a group that looks to connect former special forces and fighter pilots with private sector opportunities. There was also a really strong veterans network at Washington University. I’m sure this is the same at many other schools as well. There’s so many people out there that are willing to help and want you to be successful.

We love to share updates on our alumni with the Olin community. If you have news to share, let us know at blog@olin.wustl.edu.