Tag: Professional MBA

When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting businesses, nonprofits and startups. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Jay Li, BSBA ’16, director of marketing at Regatta Craft Mixers.

Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?

Honestly, we had to scrap existing plans to bring on summer interns due to the pandemic. When I received the email from Dean Taylor about the program, we rushed to pitch a strategic project we’ve been struggling with. 

What is your project about?

Our students worked on using insights from consumer research to inform a selling strategy for the grocery channel. 

What was it like working with WashU Olin students?

The additional bandwidth and their fresh perspective was great. It was a pleasure working with our team, and they definitely challenged some assumptions we’ve held for a while. We were really impressed with the depth of thought and analysis we’ve seen from them. 

When you’re so focused on fighting daily fires, other things—like figuring out exactly who our consumers are—have to wait. The students have really helped us work on some badly-needed projects. Plus, the students’ fresh perspective has been great—they helped us find ways we were looking at the wrong hypotheses.

What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?

I would encourage them to try and find silver linings. Although COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, there’s a lot of opportunity for innovation and disruption as our behaviors change. 




This election year, WashU Olin students, faculty and staff are making values-based, data-driven decisions as they vote early, vote in person or return their absentee ballots. Our community is driven by the desire to change the world, for good, by voting with their values and researching what’s on the ballot.

For some in our community, this election was their first. Kristy Chan, EMBA advisor, shared that she was “excited to vote for the first time as an American citizen!” Others waited in long election day lines, volunteered at the polls or helped to get out the vote.

Check out scenes from WashU Olin’s community of values-based, data-driven voters.




Katherine Dudley, BSBA ’22, is a Wood Scholarship recipient, part of Olin’s Scholars in Business Program. This year, Howard and Marilyn Wood have generously committed to match all new and increased gifts and multi-year pledge payments for undergraduate and graduate scholarships—up to a total of $400,000, through June 30, 2021. Dudley shares how the Wood Scholarship has impacted her studies.

I remember my first visit to Washington University. When I walked on campus I just knew this school was the best fit for me.

I remember telling my mom on the campus tour, “This is it. This is where I have to go to school. I love everything about it. It’s perfect.”

My mind buzzing with possibility, I started working on my application the day I got back home. I applied early decision, which meant that I checked my email obsessively throughout the beginning December, hoping with my whole my heart that WashU would welcome me to its freshman class.

There was one day, though, that I did not check my email. It had been a busier day than usual, and my dad took one of my three sisters and me to watch a collegiate volleyball game. We arrived home to the house decorated with red and green balloons and streamers: My mom had seen the news of my acceptance to the school of my dreams. My future never felt brighter!

Then came the tough part. How could my family possibly afford to send me to WashU?

I am the oldest of four girls, and I grew up rarely seeing my dad due to his ever-changing, chaotic work schedule. He was always there for me—and when it came to my education, he said, “That school is worth every penny of the tuition. If she can get in, I’ll make it work. I’ll add shifts, I’ll do whatever it takes because Olin is worth it, and so is Kat’s future.”

For me, to hear his response now fills me with joy that my dad was so proud and loved me so much that he was willing to add to his work load. Yet, hearing his response also adds new perspective. Extra shifts would mean that he would be away from my mom and sisters even more than he already is.

With my family and future at Olin in mind, I got to work writing essays for scholarships. I applied for each of the five scholarships available to Olin students. And in the same way the news of my acceptance to WashU became an unforgettable moment, Dean Malter’s phone call to personally tell me he loved my essay changed my life once again. In my essay I had written about my experience with Athleta, a national athleisure fashion company, and the nonprofit that I started in my hometown called Koats4Kids. Both experiences reflected my passion for helping kids and teens through clothing.

I was on the treadmill completing a track workout at the local rec center when my mom ran over shouting, “Kat, Kat, Dean Malter is on the phone!” I immediately pulled the emergency treadmill cord, jumped off, grabbed the phone and ran to the empty dance room to find some quiet.

Breathing heavily and drenched in sweat, my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest from nervous excitement. My mind was spinning. Dean Malter shared that Olin would like to offer me a full-ride scholarship.

In shock, my legs gave out from under me and I collapsed into a crouched position. I turned to my mom and with tears in my eyes mouthed, “full-ride.” And I can honestly say I don’t remember much of what happened right after that because I was so happy and excited that I just started to laugh and cry, and I think I remember my mom cheering and crying too. The best part of this story was telling my dad, who has been my biggest supporter and has made so many sacrifices for my family and me.

The Wood Scholarship has given me the gift of time and focus. Without the pressure to find part-time work, I have been able to commit myself wholeheartedly to academics, track and leadership roles at Olin. I will be able to study abroad, represent Olin as a rising intern and engage fully in all of the opportunities Olin provides outside of the classroom. The college experience I have dreamed of is now possible because of the generosity of the Wood family. My family’s and my profound gratitude for the Wood Scholarship is matched by our pride as a WashU family.

I am also grateful for my growing relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Wood. Their generosity continues to change the lives of students like me. In later years, when I am a successful Olin alumna, I will pay the Wood’s kindness forward, with the goal of impacting the lives of future Olin students, just as the Woods have forever changed mine.

Wood Scholars with Howard and Marilyn Wood. Dudley is pictured in the second row, second from the right.

About Howard Wood

Howard Wood, BSBA ’61, grew up in the lead mining community of Bonne Terre, Missouri, just sixty miles south of St. Louis. His parents, both schoolteachers, wanted him to attend college, but they did not have the financial means to support his education. Howard and his brother, Donald Wood, BSBA ’66, received scholarships from Henry Day, president of a mining and manufacturing business in Bonne Terre.

After graduating from Olin, he went on to have a successful accounting career at Arthur Andersen & Co., quickly rising through the ranks. Switching gears, he took on the roles

of CFO and CEO of Cencom Cable Television before co-founding two telecommunications companies, Charter Communications Inc. and Cequel III LLC.

Howard has been a champion of WashU Olin Business School for decades. Since 1995, Howard has served in leadership roles for the Olin Alumni Association and Olin National Council. In 1998, he established the Wood Leadership Fellows Program, which evolved into the Wood Scholars Program in 2016. Wood Scholars receive significant awards to attend Olin each year.

Howard also served on the Washington University Board of Trustees beginning

in 2000 and was named an emeritus trustee in 2011. He has been heavily involved in the success of the university and Olin and hopes to ensure a bright future for even more students through this challenge.

Learn more about supporting scholarships at WashU Olin and how you can take part in the Wood Scholarship Challenge.


When the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn caused internship cancellations, WashU Olin and the Center for Experiential Learning stepped up to provide summer learning opportunities for students while supporting St. Louis-based businesses. We’ll be sharing their stories on the Olin Blog. Today, we’ll hear from Rob Poirier, EMBA ’14, clinical chief, emergency medicine, assistant professor of emergency medicine at WashU School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Given the pandemic, what compelled your company to get involved with this program?

As frontline emergency department clinicians battling the pandemic daily since it began in March, we have recognized immediate needs to operationalize innovative new technology to better serve patients requiring medical care. When I received the notice that there would be a summer class, especially with all the new projects we had, we decided that having a CEL team to help us out with these projects is was perfect timing to address some of the issues we had before us.

Olin students are bright, motivated problem solvers adept with technology who can think outside the box, devising solutions to new challenges. We thought the CEL program and students could quickly help us plan and implement new telehealth solutions improving care for patients in this socially distancing era. COVID has changed how we work in the hospital. The Olin CEL team has helped us successfully develop and implement new technology plans allowing us to meet new challenges posed during this pandemic.  

What is your project about?

Our project focused on telehealth solutions that can be used to extend emergency care expertise outside of the traditional emergency department. Telehealth is a new tool emergency clinicians can use to benefit individuals who may not need to physically visit an emergency department. 

What was it like working with WashU Olin students?

We found working with Olin’s students stimulating and educational. I think we learned as much from the students as they learned from us. Having outside opinions regarding how telehealth could be used was so important. They really helped us think outside the box.

What advice would you give students on the cusp of graduating at this time in history?

Do not be afraid to learn how you personally can help yourself and others get through these tough pandemic times. COVID creates many new societal and industry problems that need solving. We all benefit from the creative ideas and brain power of current and graduating students alike to solve current issues at hand. Working together to find successful solutions is crucial to helping  us all make it through these challenging times.

What will you take with you from this experience?

This summer really reinforced for us how important diversity of opinions is. We can become tunnel-visioned at times, thinking we know what’s best for our patients. Working with the students this summer encouraged us to continue staying in contact with the CEL moving forward on operational projects.




The conversation began with a discussion one might not expect in a business school: how did OJ Simpson get away with murder?

“The prosecution had their entire careers riding on this case. The whole world was watching, and they missed it,” said Liberty Vittert, professor of practice in data science, during a lifelong learning presentation to 140 virtual attendees last Thursday.

Vittert revealed that the crucial mistake the prosecutors and jury made was a misunderstanding of data that failed to see through the defense’s misrepresentation. While the defense emphasized that the likelihood of a woman dying at the hands of her abusive partner at one in 2,500, a statistic no one could convict with, that statistic refers to women who are living and their likelihood of eventual death. The case at hand involved a woman who had been killed, who’d been abused before her death: in that case, the likelihood of her abuser being her killer jumps to 90%. Had the prosecution noted this distinction, the defense’s case would have fallen apart.

For Vittert, the O.J. Simpson case is a striking example of what she tries to teach her students: data does not exist in a vacuum. Though she noted a recent tension between a reliance on data and a focus on human emotion, Vittert explained, “the future is about bringing them together.”

Vittert is a data scientist, first and foremost—“We can get incredible things from data. Things we couldn’t otherwise see,” she explained. “But that data won’t mean anything if we divorce it from human touch.”

For the majority of Vittert’s presentation, she focused on four key questions we need to ask if we want to understand a statistic.

Who?

The first thing we’ve got to determine, according to Vittert, is who this data is about—and whether that’s the same as whom we want to understand from the data.

This brings her back to the Simpson trial: the statistic presented by lawyer Alan Dershowitz was about women who are victims of domestic violence and their likelihood of dying at the hands of their abuser—but what the jury needed to understand was the likelihood of a woman who’s been killed having died at the hands of someone who’d abused her.

What?

Once we understand the person, group or thing to whom the data refers, Vittert explained, we need to understand what we want to know from our data.

Referencing an explosion of headlines surrounding the role of chocolate in preventing Alzheimer’s in women, Vittert explained that the amount of chocolate one would need to eat to receive the study’s purported benefit from flavonoids amounts to twenty cups of hot chocolate per day.

“You have to think about what you really want to know,” she said.

How?

A third crucial question posed by Vittert: how is the data presented? Vittert used the story of a finding that eating French doubled one’s chance of death. When presented in that way, the finding is shocking—but a deeper look revealed crucial elements to the case.

The study examined men aged sixty years old—who on average, have a 1% chance of dying. When those same men ate French fries or any fried potato three times per week or more, their death rate rose to 2%.

“That effect is still bad,” Vittert explained, “but saying that we move from a one to two perfent death rate sounds a lot different than doubling your risk of death.”

Why?

The final question Vittert posed is one with enormous consequences for data scientists and marketers: Why should we care? Though this question is important as a person examines data that’s laid out in front of oneself, it’s also crucial to the way we present data in an attempt to make an impact.

Referencing her own research on the Syrian refugee crisis, Vittert explained, “We have to turn numbers into something people understand—and something that matters to them personally.” That means breaking down a massive statistic that’s too complex for our brains to understand, and relating it to a personal, human touch point.

And that’s the most important part of studying data, Vittert says. “Data is the closest thing we have to a crystal ball—but we have to retain our own experience and our own intuition—to make sure we ask the right questions of that data,” she implored the audience.

“If we’re able to do that, we can use statistic to deliver true value in our personal and our working lives.”