Tag: Professional MBA



Kelsey Wortmann, PMBA 49 (with book), asked a question of Ron Christie (on screen, left) during the 90 students

The return to a sense of normalcy and traditional in-person events continued in late April as more than 90 PMBA students arrived in Washington, DC, for their two-day residency at the Brookings Institution.

Students arrived for the trip in time for dinner on April 27 and spent the next two days in conversation with noted political insiders, media experts and policy wonks—all in service of connecting the dots between business, government and policy.

More than 90 PMBA students from four different cohorts went to Washington, DC, in late April 2022 for their two-day residency at the Brookings Institution.

“We spend so much of our time optimizing our market strategy, but there are so many other factors at play,” said Archie Karanwal, PMBA class 48, a product owner at Edward Jones. He said the Brookings residency was a great opportunity to gain an understanding of some of those other factors.

Indeed, the trip is a manifestation of Dean Mark P. Taylor’s oft-stated desire that every WashU Olin student have a Brookings experience during their time. The April residency included students from four different PMBA cohorts: classes 46, 48, 49 and 50. The two-day visit even included an evening tour of DC monuments among the activities on April 28 and 29.

Ian Dubin, associate dean and managing director for WashU at Brookings, exhorted the students to bring their own experiences and professional work with them as they listened to and engaged with the speakers, who covered topics including cyber-security, the government regulatory process and Congress.

“It’s not all like cable news here in Washington, where people are yelling at each other all the time, believe it or not,” Dubin said.

Speakers included Ron Christie, CEO of Christie Strategies and former deputy assistant to the vice president for domestic policy under Dick Cheney, who shed light on the more subtle interactions that occur among policy makers and elected officials—and who reinforced the importance for business leaders of understanding that process.

Students from PMBA 48 including Courtney Kube, left, and, from right, Archit (Archie) Karanwal and Ashley Dowd, went on a nighttime tour of the DC monuments during their April 2022 residency in Washington. Archie’s significant other, Swati Patel, white coat, joined the tour.

Those connections were not lost on Kelsey Wortmann, PMBA 49, a product planner at Emerson. “I hadn’t realized how actual work gets done in Washington. I never really thought before about how easy it is to make connections.”

Other speakers included:

  • Michael Fitzpatrick, director of global strategy and innovation, Google; former associate administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget
  • Jim Papa, senior vice president and managing director, Global Strategy Group; host of Staffer podcast; former special assistant to the president for legislative affairs; former House and Senate senior staffer 
  • Susan Page, author and Washington bureau chief, USA Today 
  • Steven Chabinsky, former deputy assistant director, cyber division, FBI 
  • Hon. Albert Wynn (D-MD), senior director, Greenberg Traurig LLP; former member, energy and commerce committee, US House of Representatives 
  • An assortment of foreign policy experts.

Pictured at top: Kelsey Wortmann, PMBA 49 (with book), asked a question of Ron Christie (on screen, left) during the 90 students’ visit to DC for a two-day residency at the Brookings Institution.




Who doesn’t love chocolate? Especially when it’s free!

Honeymoon Chocolates, cofounded by Olin alum Cam Loyet, PMBA ’21, is hosting its grand opening of its chocolate factory from 3–7 p.m. this Saturday. The address: 16 North Central Avenue in Clayton, Missouri.

Honeymoon Chocolates, in Clayton, Missouri.

Free drinking chocolate, chocolate samples, baked goods and merchandise will be available, and the first 30 people to come will receive a gift. Masks are required.

Honeymoon Chocolates crafts bean-to-bar chocolate sweetened with raw honey.

“We are chocolate makers in solidarity with our cacao farmers through pledging to pay a premium for all cacao purchased,” Loyet said in an email. “We donate to honeybee research and purchase directly from beekeepers.”

Loyet co-founded the company with his now wife, Dr. Haley Loyet. The brand evolved from a dorm room in 2016 to a team of five and the Clayton location. In 2021, Arch Grants awarded the business $50,000.

Top photo: Founders Cam Loyet and Dr. Haley Loyet.




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.