Tag: Professional MBA



The St. Louis Business Journal recently announced its 40 Under Forty Class of 2021, a set of young leaders the publication expects to feature in the next decade. This year’s list includes Ryan Harbison, MBA ’19, a US Marine veteran who now serves as general manager and vice president of business operations at Breeze Helicopters.

Harbison was an outstanding student at Olin. He was a Charles F. Knight Scholar and a member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honors society. Before coming to WashU, Harbison received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History at Colgate University, where he also served as a volunteer firefighter. He then spent 10 years as a Marine pilot and flight instructor.

‘Olin bridged the knowledge gap for me’

“Olin was instrumental in preparing me for life in the ‘civilian’ business world,” Harbison said. “While the Marine Corps provided me with a set of skills that have also been beneficial, Olin bridged the knowledge gap for me between a largely liberal arts background and the hard skills I needed to feel confident entering the business world.”

Harbison is also grateful for the Olin Veterans Association, of which he served as president in 2019. “The OVA was one of the main reasons I choose Olin,” he said. “Washington University has a robust veteran network and actively engages transitioning veterans. Our cohort of students worked hard to increase the OVA’s presence in the community while also trying to bolster veteran numbers at the school.”

‘Outstanding entrepreneurship program’

Harbison also said he benefited from Olin’s “outstanding entrepreneurship program. I had the opportunity to work with several start-ups during my two years in the MBA program. Those were very enjoyable and beneficial programs, and I learned a tremendous amount from the founders of the companies that my groups partnered with.” 

The St. Louis Business Journal will host an awards ceremony for Ryan Harbison and the other 40 Under Forty nominees on Thursday, November 18, at the St. Louis Marriott Grand Hotel. Tickets are available online.




Wade Miquelon, MBA

Shares of JOANN Inc. jumped nearly 5% on their first day of trading after the arts and crafts retailer raised $130.8 million in an initial public offering. The fabric and craft retailer is led by CEO Wade Miquelon, MBA ’89.

The company is listed on NASDAQ under the symbol JOAN. It announced its intention to go public in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on February 16.

Although the company suffered from declining revenues before the pandemic, a rise in at-home crafting and sewing has prompted a 38% growth in sales since May 2020.

Miquelon told Forbes magazine that the pandemic is not the only contributor to the spike in sales. He said the company has been able to play into “solid trends” of “more do-it-yourself, a lot more personalization, and major movements on market exchanges like Etsy and Shopify” that have been building over the past few years.

He also mentioned JOANN’s success in offering curbside pickup, supporting its online purchase options. According to Marketwatch, the company announced IPO terms on March 4, indicating its plan to offer 10.9 million shares at between $15 and $17 a share.

Although JOANN’s recent growth has been impressive, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business, the question for potential investors could be whether Joann can can successfully convert growth to net income, whether the market will keep growing, and whether the company will continue to drive down its debt.

However, JOANN’s transition into public offering is an opportunity for investors to gain a foothold in the craft and sewing market. Hopefully, consumers and investors alike will be able to capitalize on the recent rise in sales for JOANN, and enjoy reconnecting with at-home projects like sewing and crafting during this isolated time.

The company had 855 retail locations as of January 30 and a database of more than 69 million customers.

Pictured above: Wade Miquelon, MBA ’89.




Rachel Lopez, PMBA

Rachel Lopez, PMBA ’19, heard WashU didn’t have enough personal protective equipment or masks for staff and students, so she donated 600 disposable masks to Olin. She is a global manager, strategy and business development, for Build-A-Bear Workshop. She responded to a few questions for the Olin Blog.

What compelled you to make this contribution?

This year has been a challenging year for a lot of people. I think love, understanding each other and supporting the needed ones during the global pandemic takes people a long way.

When COVID-19 had its initial breakout in China, Build-A-Bear Workshop and I sent a couple of hundred N97 masks in February with encouraging notes to our China franchisees, partners and vendors. They were very happy and touched to receive the needed supplies during their most difficult time.  

A month later, COVID-19 began affecting the whole world, including the US. Global news reported the increasing coronavirus cases in the US and the shortage of PPE supplies. After our China partners saw the news from local media, they immediately reached out to me and offered to send masks to us to return the favor. It touches my heart to see that our help when our Build-A-Bear partners were in need was reciprocated in ours.

In April, thousands of different types of masks (N95, disposable, KN95) arrived at my house from China. At that time, St. Louis hospitals started to ask for public PPE donations and homemade masks because of the shortage of supplies. My colleague and I soon reached out to St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield, Missouri, and a couple of other hospitals to donate our PPE from China partners.

We donated more than 2,000 disposable masks and non-touch thermometers to St. Luke’s and a couple hundred masks to other hospitals. The doctors, nurses, policy officers and janitors were happy to receive our donations. They even sent thank you pictures with “heart” hand gestures to us.

Our hearts melted when we saw the lovely pictures from St. Luke’s and thank-you notes from other hospitals. We are grateful for being able to support our medical workers during the pandemic. Having said that, we want to take the PPE donation a step further. Build-A-Bear Foundation approved the purchase of more than 100,000 masks to help more hospitals and communities in needs.

After I finished supporting Build-A-Bear Foundation with that purchase, I heard schools were also in need of PPE. Both my husband and I attended WashU, and I had my best time, best professors and mentors there. So, I reached out to my mentor and asked if I could make a mask donation to Olin.

How has this crisis affected you personally over the past few months?

My heart breaks for the people around the world who suffered from the pandemic. My family is in China, so I was worried to death when COVID-19 happened. I have partners and friends in over 12 different countries since I work for Build-A-Bear as the global manager. It was sad when I heard our partners in Australia, Gulf States, India, Chile, South Africa, etc. were negatively impacted by coronavirus. Some lost their jobs; some got quarantined.

Also, my mom came to the US to visit my husband and me in December. She was supposed to go back to China in March. Because of the pandemic, American Airlines rescheduled her four times—and then canceled the flight. I rebooked her, but those flights were canceled because of restrictions. My mom has been with us for more than six months with no certainty when she can return to China. I know she worries about my grandparents there.

How are you persevering through all of this?

Some people joked about whether we could “restart 2020 or just get it over with.” Again, it is an unprecedented time as more than 100,000 have died in the US from this virus, and many more people have lost their jobs.

However, I must look at the bright side. My families and friends are fine, which is the most important thing. My husband and I were able to keep our jobs. Working from home from March until now is hard without collaboration with my colleagues, but I was able to spend more time with my mom and puppy.

It is hard to adjust, but things do get better. For example, most of our franchise countries like China, Australia and Denmark have completely reopened and life is back to normal. My PMBA classmates have been in close contact with each other. We are hoping to regroup again when the pandemic is over.




Dr. Linda X. Wu is a clinical instructor with the WashU School of Medicine. In addition to working at St. Louis Children’s Hospital as a pediatrician and teaching medical students and residents, she’s finished her second semester as a member of Olin’s Professional MBA Class 48, concentrating in healthcare and entrepreneurship.

We caught up with Linda to learn more about what it’s like to work and study at WashU.

Why did you decide to pursue your MBA?

My background is in engineering, so I have a natural tendency for problem solving. I would like to design medical solutions, from creating new devices to solving workflow issues. I hoped to gain the business knowledge for entrepreneurship and establish new startups.

How has the pandemic changed your day-to-day work?

I’m a general pediatrician within the St. Louis Children’s Hospital and its community sites within the hospitalist division, meaning I work only in the hospital and not in the outpatient clinic. I spend about 50% of my time in the emergency room taking care of anything that walks in—from difficulty breathing such as asthma, to a broken arm from falling off the monkey bars.

Wu recreates Sara Paglia’s “Thanks,” a painting depicting a nurse as a superhero donning PPE.

I also spend a good deal of time with patients admitted to the hospital, taking care of newborn babies that were just delivered, helping the neonatologist out in the neonatal intensive care unit, providing sedation for procedures and circumcisions. There’s no “typical” day, and that’s what makes this job so much fun! I’m also faculty at the School of Medicine and enjoy teaching medical students and residents.

These days, many things have changed and not much has changed. We have daily updated protocols on how to treat COVID-19 patients and what we need to do to protect ourselves. As for the actual medicine, the fundamentals are the same. Kids still show up in the ER with cuts and belly aches, and babies are still being born—so life at work keeps rolling. I do miss seeing everyone’s bright smiles, but I can tell they’re smiling underneath their masks by the sparkle in their eyes.

What are you most proud of as a pediatrician right now?

I get to work daily alongside such a wonderful group of compassionate, dedicated and giving healthcare staff. The hospital is a scary place to be these days, yet people still consistently show up to work and put in 100%. It takes a lot to run a hospital and it truly is the definition of teamwork. I am grateful for everyone’s hard work during this pandemic.

The hospital is a scary place to be these days, yet people still consistently show up to work and put in 100%. It takes a lot to run a hospital and it truly is the definition of teamwork.

What’s it like working on your MBA during this time?

Wu with her PMBA team

I have an excellent PMBA small team. They have been flexible and accommodating with my changing work schedule as this pandemic has unfolded, and we have worked well on Zoom. We already had good team dynamics and ground rules established from previous semesters working together, so it was easy to translate that into the virtual space.

What should people to know right now?

Please listen to your healthcare professionals—and news and people with established credentials. There are many rumors and fake news spreading out there that’s worsening everyone’s anxiety and fears. Social distancing works and is our best bet in protecting ourselves right now, so please stay strong!

My heart goes out to all of those affected by the pandemic—from people who have lost a loved one, to worried nights of being sick, to financial hardships we’re all struggling through. 

And thank you to the volunteers who have donated so much of the little they had to help us within the hospitals. We cannot appreciate you enough!

How are you and your colleagues making values-based, data-driven decisions?

Just like business, medicine is a very data-driven and evidence-based profession. Even though there are still many unknowns and even more moving parts, the leadership within Washington University School of Medicine and BJH has been impressive, providing us with timely and reliable medical facts, situational awareness of what is going on within our hospitals and innovative solutions (such as solutions to the shortage of personal protective equipment). I know each decision was meticulously calculated based on data and thoroughly thought out for its broad and sustained impact.

Wu with a few of her Emergency Room nurses




Though the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down campus and eliminated the possibility of in-person celebrations, WashU Olin still plans to recognize all our graduating students this year.

Washington University’s Chancellor Andrew Martin announced his creation of an Alternate Commencement Committee on April 17. That committee will examine the best way to honor the class of 2020 throughout WashU when it becomes safe to do so. While no formal announcements have been made, the committee plans to have more information available soon.

In the meantime, WashU Olin will move forward with virtual graduation recognition ceremonies that supplement, but do not replace, the university-wide celebration. On May 8 and May 15, Olin will release virtual graduation videos for each planned ceremony at the time of the original event.

Olin professor Hilary Anger Elfenbein wore her regalia to record her speech from home.

Each video celebration will include remarks from Dean Mark P. Taylor and Chancellor Andrew Martin, student speakers, announcements of student award recipients and remarks from the Reid Teaching Award winners. Though the degree candidates will not be able to “walk” during the ceremonies, their names will scroll on the screen during the presentations.

Videos will be made available at the time of each ceremony on the Olin graduation web page. Each ceremony will stream on Olin’s Facebook page, YouTube Channel and Instagram.  

Schedule of Ceremonies

Friday, May 8

  • EMBA Class 53, 10:30 a.m.
  • Executive Education: EMBA & WashU at Brookings master of science in leadership, 10:30 a.m.

Friday, May 15

  • BSBA, 11:30 a.m.
  • Graduate programs, 3 p.m.

We welcome any photos or reflections from your participation in our graduation ceremonies. Please share any images or videos with us @wustlbusiness and use #WashU20. Though this isn’t the ceremony any of us expected, we offer our heartfelt congratulations to the class of 2020.