Tag: Professional MBA



Last semester, Richard Payton served as a United Way Board Fellow for Sherwood Forest, a year-round youth development organization. The project was part of the Center for Experiential Learning’s United Way Board Fellows Program, which partners students with local agencies supported by the United Way of Greater St. Louis. The students serve as a consultant and a voting member of the organization’s board, providing a unique experience for students interested in social impact.

Richard truly immersed himself in his client’s mission to transform the lives of children in need, and he came away from the experience with a strong sense of applied learning and a better appreciation for youth development in the community. Learn more about his experience as a board fellow, and his advice for students interested in the program:

Who is your client and what interested you about working with them?

Richard: I’ve had the good fortune to sit on the board of Sherwood Forest, a youth development agency that uses a resident summer camp in the Ozarks and year-round programming to help kids from underserved communities reach their fullest potential. I worked in K-12 education for 8 years before enrolling in Olin’s PMBA program, and I love the outdoors, so Sherwood Forest is a natural fit for me.

Two girls who are a part of the Sherwood Forest community.

How do you hope to provide impact to your client?

Richard: Lots of youth development agencies target kids from underserved communities, but I can’t think of another that is anchored in a resident summer camp experience. It’s easy to call Sherwood Forest a “summer camp,” but there’s a lot more to it. With my Board Fellows project, my aim is to help Sherwood Forest better communicate “the why behind the what” to stakeholders—in other words, to better explain the theory and evidence behind the agency’s work so that parents, families, donors, and funders understand the sophisticated and evidence-based thinking behind the agency’s service model.

How does the CEL Board Fellows experience differ from other classes?

Richard: One of the reasons I applied to WashU’s part-time MBA program was the experiential opportunities at the CEL. The hands-on experience has been incredibly valuable, especially in considering how I can apply concepts that I learned in courses that were focused on critical thinking, communication, and strategy. This experience has been different from other courses because of that experiential element, as well as the opportunity to draw from what I learned in so many different courses.

What has been the highlight of your experience?

Richard: In addition to its amazing staff and board members, I’ve also met many students who “grew up” with Sherwood Forest. Hearing about how much Sherwood Forest impacted their lives and how excited they were for college and their careers was really inspiring. Since nonprofit work can often be intangible, these stories were so compelling.

What advice would you give to students interested in becoming a United Way Board Fellow?

Richard: Know that your assigned project is just one component of the Board Fellows experience—another big piece is learning about the agency and its work, and how nonprofits function. That being said, spend as much time with the agency as possible—board meetings, committee meetings, fundraising events, etc. Make sure you see the agency “in action.” I spent a day at Sherwood’s summer camp in the Ozarks and it really brought the agency’s work to life.




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Logan Bolinger, Alex Clouser, Myiah Johnson, and Chad Littrell describe the experience of consulting for their client, TechArtista. 


The co-working space trend has been continuously growing over the past few years. Over the years, consumer interests and expectations of those spaces have evolved and co-working spaces have evolved with them. TechArtista in St. Louis has been at the forefront of developing a unique cultural experience for its customers to address these demands.

TechArtista is not just a co-working space. It is a community of art, culture, and innovation. As TechArtista sets its sights on expanding to a second location, they turned to the CELect program to help execute this task.

During this project, our team has gained great insight on how TechArtista’s differentiated culture creates value for members. When a plan and process are developed around that culture and replicated, it becomes even more valuable. Through our research, we have found that the most successful spaces are the ones that have been able to grow while still remaining true to their brand. TechArtista’s culture is well-positioned for growth. We plan to add value by proposing a plan that helps them leverage and replicate that culture by instilling new processes.

This CELect experience has been valuable because it has demonstrated how effective an actionable plan can be in the execution of a company’s vision. We have also been taught the importance of staying true to the established values and mission of one’s company. The reasons people have for joining an organization and the organization’s own values can be more significant and more catalyzing than what the company actually does.

Guest Bloggers: Logan Bolinger, Law ’18; Alex Clouser, MBA/Architecture ’18; Myiah Johnson, PMBA, ’17; Chad Littrell, PMBA ’18




Students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REx startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects with the Olin Blog. Student team Andrew Smith, Daniel Kalvaitis, Jeffrey Lantz,  and Trent Pavic describe the experience of consulting for their client, Segue Partners.


Every semester, a few undergraduate and graduate students are chosen to participate in the Center for Experiential Learning’s Entrepreneurial Consulting Team (CELect) program. Participants are paired with St. Louis-area startups and tasked with solving a critical business problem.

Our team was selected for this program, and though we’re only a few weeks in, the journey so far has been intense.

WashU’s esteemed entrepreneurship professors prepared us with an intensive, full-day class. After that, it was our responsibility to meet with our client, determine the scope, plan how to meet deadlines, and deliver the most value possible. Professors provided guidance on aligning the team’s work with the client’s vision. But as with a real startup, we are the ones that need to make everything happen.

The following week, our team met with our client’s founder and core team members to discuss their objectives. Our client, Segue Partners, specializes in tackling the unique accounting and financial consulting needs of private funds and venture capital portfolio companies.

After an intense two-hour meeting, our team was tasked with sizing the market and planning next steps for a concept aimed at providing an innovative solution to back-end accounting services for startups and small businesses in the St. Louis area.

An integral aspect of such a project is to understand the market that exists and the needs of potential customers. To get us started, our team was given some initial contacts to interview. This will come as no surprise to those of us familiar with the St. Louis area, but everyone was incredibly welcoming. One contact often led to another…and another…and another.

In fact, the St. Louis entrepreneurial community is so welcoming that even after several dozen interview requests, not a single person has declined to speak with us. Not one.

Several weeks in and nearly a hundred interviews later, we’re starting to get a clear picture of the needs of potential clients. In addition to interviews, our team is studying competitors, modeling assumptions, aggregating data into actionable insights, and formulating a strategy for the potential launch. Leveraging other lessons that we’ve learned in classes at WashU, we’re almost ready to determine final recommendations.

This has been a tremendously rewarding experience for each member of the team. We’re grateful to the CELect program and WashU for giving us the opportunity to engage with the fascinating world of startups in the area, and for allowing us to give back to the St. Louis community.

Guest bloggers: Andrew Smith, BSBA ’18; Daniel Kalvaitis, BSBA ’18; Jeffrey Lantz, MBA ’18; and Trent Pavic, PMBA’18.




The Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) is pleased to highlight some of our longstanding partnerships with nonprofit organizations in the St. Louis community. Student teams tackle all kinds of projects for these organizations, ranging from marketing plans to website design to financial planning. Thanks to the Taylor Community Consulting program, these projects are funded and provided to area agencies free of charge.


Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club is a youth-serving organization that annually offers direct-service programming to 3,000 children and indirect programming to over 10,000 in athletics, education, arts, healthy living and leadership, and professional development. Throughout these activities, they work to foster a community centered on their 3R values: respect, restraint and responsibility.

The CEL has worked with Mathews-Dickey on three Taylor Community Consulting projects, focused on building a stronger alumni network and further cultivating scholarships, such as the Blue Chip scholarship for values-driven student-athletes.

Bill Fronczak, vice president for institutional development at Mathews-Dickey, says he is continually amazed by WashU students’ commitment and care about their work through the CEL.

This high level of engagement allows students to find solutions and deliver plans that aid Mathews-Dickey’s overall youth development mission. Bill believes his organization has benefited from having multiple student teams over the years, saying he values the high-quality, timely work the student teams deliver. He says each team builds off one another, and their results add up to progress for the organization that keeps growing.

Bill is energized by his 23 years of work with Mathews-Dickey because of the positive impact that the organization has on the youth who participate in its programs. Bill mentions that a WashU student on a recent CEL consulting team had participated in programs with Mathews-Dickey when she was younger—a perfect example of how this organization works to help children grow up and lead successful lives. The goodwill and good deeds have come full circle with this former ‘client’ now lending her expertise to the very same organization through the CEL.

We are excited to build on our momentum with Bill and Mathews-Dickey to reach lofty goals together and collaborate with a spirit of collective impact.




The Center for Experiential Learning has dozens of practicums and projects each semester that provide students with hands-on experience in all kinds of businesses. The below post highlights one of the CEL’s Taylor Community Consulting Projects with the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective

The best way to introduce you to Story Stitchers is sharing the organization’s compelling story in the words of its president, Susan Colangelo:

“Once upon a time, there was a stitcher who liked to embroider stories from the newspaper. One day, she was stitching a story about two sisters who were shot while sitting on their porch in University City–one of whom died.

The stitcher reflected on the power of stitching throughout history; of the NAMES Project, also known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and quilts used to signal safe passage to escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. Determined to create change, she gathered eight artists in Old North St. Louis and founded the Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective. The artists wrote the mission that night: to document St. Louis through art and word, to promote understanding, civic pride, inter-generational relationships, and literacy.

Today, Saint Louis Story Stitchers Artists Collective is 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to professional artists and minority youth ages 15-24, working together to create social change, focusing on gun violence prevention.”

Story Stitchers has worked with the CEL on four marketing initiatives. Recently, the organization collaborated with students Gary Wang, Aviva Mann, and Taylor Ohman on marketing the nonprofit’s summer program, Pick the City UP.

The Pick the City UP tour aimed to spark community activity among area youth by providing free hip hop performances and presentations on public health issues affecting St. Louis, including gun violence and food insecurity.

The student team went to work defining and creating the deliverables, including project branding with a logo, creating media lists, research on public service announcements for radio, recommendations and oversight for landing page design on the Story Stitchers website, and a social media plan.

What Susan found most remarkable about the Olin CEL team was how much they felt a part of the collective. Taylor sat down with the Story Stitchers youth for extended periods, sketching out potential logos, so that the group could feel a sense of ownership. I visited the storefront recently, and they proudly wore this logo on t-shirts and sweatshirts, showing the community that a simple logo can help create unity and help others to feel involved.

With the fifth team in place for this semester’s Taylor Community Consulting Program, we are excited to help Story Stitchers continue spreading the word about gun violence prevention and creating unique connections in our local community.

This is one in a series of blog posts highlighting partnerships with local nonprofits through the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL).

Guest Blogger: Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18


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