Tag: Professional MBA

Former WashU Olin Business School Dean Robert Virgil was honored as an “ageless, remarkable St. Louisan” by a prominent local nonprofit dedicated to improving living conditions for at-risk seniors.

Virgil, who was Olin’s dean from 1977 to 1993, is part of a class of 14 so-honored this year by the St. Andrew’s Charitable Foundation. The organization recognizes a new class each year of individuals 75 years old and up “who are actively making a tremendous impact in St. Louis through philanthropy, volunteerism, and leadership. These awe-inspiring individuals are proof positive that, at any age, we can make a difference in our community and the lives of others.”

Virgil was recognized with the other honorees at a gala on October 20 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, hosted by St. Louis Public Radio’s Don Marsh. This is what the organization had to say in its write-up about 84-year-old Dean Virgil.

Bob likes to say that he has had careers with two of the world’s finest institutions, Washington University and Edward Jones. At Washington University beginning in 1960, he taught accounting to hundreds of students and from 1977-1993, was dean of the John M. Olin School of Business.

He has had numerous other roles in the university, including chairing the highly successful scholarship segment of the recently completed Leading Together campaign.

In 1993, Bob joined Edward Jones where he had responsibility for management development and was a member of the firm’s management committee. He retired as a general partner in 2007.

Bob has been involved actively with several organizations in the St. Louis community. Among them are Girls, Inc. of St. Louis, the Magic House, City Academy, Harris Stowe State University, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Gerry and Bob enjoy four grown children, 12 grandchildren, and their pup, Maisie.

The 2018 class of “ageless, remarkable St. Louisans” also includes: Jorge M. Alegre, M.D.; Margaret (Marge) Aylward; Mariann Laue Baker; Shirley and Charles Drury, Sr.; Paul J. Gallant; Dr. Ron Gregory; Carol Powell; Jay C. Rickmeyer; Harvey G. Schneider; Mary Ann and Richard Shaw; and Ted C. Vargas, M.D.

Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library in Simon Hall on October 12.

Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen
during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library
in Simon Hall on October 12.

When Ron Allen first arrived on WashU’s campus for a new job as business school librarian, there wasn’t one—at least, not one adequate to serve a world-class business school.

In 1986, Robert Virgil was dean, on a mission to raise Olin Business School’s profile among global business schools. Simon Hall was under construction and a new, state-of-the-art business library was part of the plan to help propel Olin to new heights. Allen was to be the first to build the library from a tiny nook and to hold an endowed directorship for the position as the Asa F. Seay Librarian.

“There was a sense of starting from nothing and growing this library into a first-rate service for faculty and students,” Allen recalled on October 5, on the occasion of his retirement from WashU, 33 years after his arrival. The New York City native—who confessed that “I don’t know if I could have identified St. Louis on a map”—spent three decades building, defending, and morphing the library through changes in leadership and technology.

“He was a change agent like nobody else over the course of his career,” said Ron King, Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, in his tribute remarks. “The heart of the school was the library.”

At an event in the ornate reading room at the Al and Ruth Kopolow Business Library, three former deans and Todd Milbourn, vice dean and Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance, shared their recollections of Allen’s career and contributions.

Milbourn recalled how Allen “got me wired in” as a brand new faculty member in the business school when he arrived, describing Allen as a partner in research who would find and help faculty exploit new data sets for their work.

Former deans Stuart Greenbaum and Mahendra Gupta recalled occasions when they tried to commandeer space from the library to accommodate expanding programs at Olin—attempts Allen rebuffed every time.

“You fell in love with the place when you walked into Kopolow,” Greenbaum said, crediting Allen with the environment he’d created. Gupta built on that remark, calling the library “the intellectual future of the school.”

When Allen came to WashU to run the business library, it was a standalone entity. It’s since been absorbed as part of the WashU library system. He said he’s come to terms with the idea of retirement and is looking forward to downsizing from a house to a Central West End apartment and his Florida condo.

“His handprint is all over this library and the way it was shaped and developed,” said former Dean Robert Virgil. “It was why our students wanted to stay here and study here.”

Dean Taylor with Dean Colangelo and a selection of his works that will appear in various parts of Olin Business School.

Few figures in science have pierced the popular imagination or made more fundamental scientific contributions like renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. He wrangled with complex data about the construction of the universe and yielded mathematical models depicting its function. Yet he was also a musician, an artist and a lover of dance.

“The true sign of intelligence,” he once said, “is not knowledge, but imagination.”

At the business school, as part of a great university, we are in the knowledge business. We create it, we transmit it, we leverage it with our community partners. And I’d like to think we’re continuing to create a workplace that sparks the imagination of our colleagues.

Complementing the inspiring architecture of Olin Business School, we’ve begun to introduce new images to adorn its walls. I wanted to share a little about these works and the people behind them.

Thames and Bens II 2018 by Ann Wimsatt

They include the works of Ann Wimsatt, a St. Louis-based artist whose work I encountered at an exhibition soon after arriving at Olin. Her work now lines parts of the fourth and fifth floors of Knight Hall and Bauer Hall, as well as parts of the second floor in Simon Hall.

In Ann Wimsatt’s work, I was struck by three things. First, her images are extremely international, depicting significant architectural landmarks in locations such as Mumbai, Barcelona, London, Siena, Hong Kong and more—as well as St. Louis. Second, they are subjective interpretations of the buildings and landmarks they depict. And third, they are vibrant splashes of color that turn a corridor into an artist’s palette as we walk along, before stopping to look at the details of any particular one.

“Sometimes the most glorious endeavors of a civilization are what they create in their cities,” said Wimsatt, who is also an architect. “I’m quite interested not only in what meaning and importance they might have to me as I paint them, but also, as I manipulate them digitally, what kind of meaning I can draw out of them.”

G.R. (GRE.EK) 2011 by Carmon Colangelo

Olin visitors will also notice a new series of works by my friend and colleague Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Carmon graciously showed me around and introduced me to the art scene in St. Louis soon after my arrival and we spent a lot of time discussing art in his studio and in galleries around the area.

Several of Dean Colangelo’s works hang in and immediately outside my office—and there will soon be several new ones displayed prominently in the Kiefer Foyer in Simon Hall. Those closer to my office tend toward the symmetrical and orderly, but the farther from my office they get, the more the works take on their own character and depart in subtle but significant ways from the central works. I view it as something of a metaphor for the academic freedom we enjoy on the WashU campus.

“I made a new series that was inspired by the concepts in the first versions of the stretched colorfield images,” Colangelo said. “I like the analogy Dean Taylor has made about innovation and faculty research responding with more radical variations on this theme.”

Our very existence as a highly ranked business school depends on the ways we foster collaboration and imagination in the service of the knowledge we create. How do we infuse creativity into a business school? Perhaps by osmosis? I’m rather hopeful that we’ll see our students, visitors and faculty members take time to pause and appreciate the new works adorning the halls and to become inspired by their environment.

Pictured above: Dean Taylor with Dean Colangelo and a selection of his works that will appear in various parts of Olin Business School.

Fran and Elke Koch, first row. Paul Koch, Dean Mark Taylor, Roger Koch, and Chancellor Mark Wrighton on February 20, 2018, when the Kochs

A tour of duty in the military might have been one of the best things for Paul and Roger Koch. The experience upon their return guided their thinking about how to manage their family-owned business in the latter stages of their career.

“One of our saving graces was going into the service after graduating from WashU,” said Paul Koch, BSBA ’61, JD ’64, MBA ’68. “It got us away from the family, it got us away from St. Louis. And when we came back, our father said, ‘This is my company. You’ll have to start your own.'”

Their father didn’t want his sons, Paul and Roger, BSBA ’64, MBA ’66, to follow him into his real estate company. So they did exactly as he said and started their own. It became Koch Development Co., a St. Louis-based developer and manager of commercial real estate and owner/operator of select entertainment attractions—a business that has endured for three generations, so far.

“We say we are the third generation because we’re in that line of entrepreneurs in the same kind of business,” Roger Koch said. “Our kids had different interests. They had an interest in real estate, but they wanted to move in different directions.”

Paul and Roger Koch’s experiences separating from their father’s business, growing their own, and arranging for a generational transition informed their interest in deepening Olin Business School’s focus on the family business arena. The two brothers—and their spouses, Elke and Fran Koch—established a family business initiative in 2016, with a $1.09 million gift.

A key component of the family business initiative is an annual symposium focused on the topic of closely held and family-owned businesses. The fourth annual Olin Family Business Symposium will be held October 12 in Emerson Auditorium, focused on “Staying Private Forever–Often a Better Alternative.”

The Kochs’ commitment expanded in February when they contributed an additional $9 million toward a full-fledged Koch Center for Family Business, a research center that will be run by a faculty member holding a newly endowed Koch Distinguished Professorship in Family Business.

Roger Koch said Washington University has the potential to be a hub of knowledge, learning, and research on family businesses, which contribute more than $68 trillion to global GDP and drive 64 percent of the US economy.

“Students get totally focused on big, publicly traded companies,” he said. “They get no exposure to what family businesses are like. Family businesses by far create more jobs than any other sector of the economy. There are great careers to be had in family businesses. They’re very long-term oriented. They don’t only think about the next quarter. They’re here to move the entire organization along.”

He and his brother Paul know first-hand the importance of planning for generational transitions, a key stumbling block for many family businesses.

“We’re not unique, but too often family businesses fail to create that high-level management by using non-family managers,” Roger Koch said. “The seniors don’t want to give up control. That almost dooms the business. Even if you have a family member in that management team, you still need non-family managers to provide back-up support and continuity.”

Paul Koch added: “What is atypical of our business is that we were willing to go from family business managers to stakeholders.”

The next Olin Family Business Symposium includes keynote speaker Dave Whorton, founder and CEO of The Tugboat Group, as well as three panels, all discussing different aspects of “evergreen businesses”—businesses “led by purpose-driven leaders with the grit and resourcefulness to build and scale private, profitable, enduring, and market-leading businesses that make a dent in the universe.”

Pictured above: Fran and Elke Koch, first row. Paul Koch, Dean Mark Taylor, Roger Koch, and Chancellor Mark Wrighton on February 20, 2018, when the Kochs’ gift was announced.

Symposium schedule

7:30 a.m. Breakfast and Networking

8:30 a.m. “Introduction to Evergreen Principles,” Dave Whorton

9:00 a.m.: “The Concept of Strategic Ownership in Evergreen Companies”
Panel discussion with Dave Whorton, The Tugboat Group; Penny Pennington, Edward Jones; Alaina Macia, Medical Transportation Management, Inc. (MTM)

10:00 a.m.: “Importance of Evergreen Values in Businesses and Families”
Panel discussion with John Stupp Jr., Stupp Bros., Inc.; Michael Dierberg, First Bank Inc.; Greg Twardowski, Whelan Security Company; Jessica Rovello, Arkadium

11:00 a.m.: “Importance of Evergreen Values to Our Community”
Panel discussion with Spencer Burke, Olin Business School; David Kemper, Commerce Bancshares; Ricardo Cervantes, La Monarca Bakery; Michael Van Houweling, Van Wall Equipment

Cliff Holekamp

One day, we may think of the Holekamp family as the Johnny Appleseed of Olin’s startup ecosystem.

Thanks to a $500,000 gift from Cliff Holekamp and his father Bill Holekamp, known as the Holekamp Seed Fund, Olin now offers up to 20 grants a year of $1,000 to students who need a small injection of capital to get a startup business off the ground.

“I’m just interested in having all of our entrepreneurship students take action on their ideas and that they have the support to pursue a passion,” said Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship and academic director for entrepreneurship at Olin.

The idea for the Holekamp Seed Fund grew out of his experience with startup competitions, which typically hear from a variety of student proposals, but only reward one or two with funding. “The thought is to flip that around,” Holekamp said. “What if we were to think of it as seeding a large number of students with small checks? It’s about moving a student to action.”

It’s Holekamp’s dream that these relatively small grants will stimulate an even more vibrant startup scene on the WashU campus. The outline for the Holekamp Seed Fund suggests that the next Varsity Tutors, Schoology, or ePharmix—established firms that launched as student-run startups—will get their first investment from Olin.

He only asks for two things of the students.

First, he expects students to demonstrate a serious commitment to launching their idea. Applications won’t be judged on the potential long-term viability of the idea, but rather on how passionate the student is about giving the idea a go.

One reason for that stipulation? Eventually, students may learn their idea isn’t viable. Or, perhaps, they’ll uncover a better, more promising opportunity along the way. “Entrepreneurship should be liberating,” Holekamp said. “It shouldn’t be a cage.”

Second, Holekamp will ask recipients of the $1,000 grants to consider paying them forward after they’ve had a chance to pursue their own idea. Though not a requirement, he hopes students will consider pledging $200 a year over five years back to the seed fund or to the Olin Annual Fund.

“I’m not aware of any other schools doing something with this ‘pay-it-forward’ element,” he said. “I know of schools that do loans or give out cash prizes.” The component of building a vibrant startup community on campus was important to the Holekamp family’s conception of the idea.

“The idea behind this fund is wonderfully innovative—befitting Cliff, his family, WashU and the entrepreneurial spirit of the St. Louis community,” Dean Mark Taylor said. “This fund will provide a nudge to student entrepreneurs and it may well entice them as successful alums to likewise lend a hand to students who follow them. It’s an innovation win-win.”

Students can apply on the Holekamp Seed Fund website with the expectation that they will have a face-to-face interview with Holekamp. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis, so students can apply at any time. A three-person panel—Holekamp; his father, Bill; and Elise Miller Hoffman, MBA ’16, and principal at Cultivation Capital—will review applications. They’ll be assuring the applications come from Olin students who are ready to incorporate as a business and can demonstrate a personal commitment to the idea.

Applicants must have completed at least one semester in an Olin graduate program or course, or they must be a rising junior who is majoring in business or has participated in an Olin entrepreneurship course.

“It’s enough to get them motivated, get started, get incorporated and begin creating something,” Holekamp said. “Sometimes the hardest milestone is the first—going from nothing to something.”

Suppose your company made a substantial annual investment in a major civic event that measurably improved the lives of community members. Would that affect the business opportunities you pursue? The way you market your business? Your philanthropic spending?

The answers, of course, are all “yes.” But take a step back: How do you know your annual investment is providing those measurable returns? These questions lie at the core of a featured presentation at Olin’s inaugural Data for Good conference on October 5.

The presentation by Tony Sardella, CEO of predictive analytics technology company evolve24 is one part of a daylong agenda for business leaders and academics examining strategies for using data to make a positive and principled difference in businesses, organizations, and the community at large. Sardella will present on “Fostering Community Well-Being: Using Data to Drive Better Program Decisions.”

Making a difference with data

“That’s the goal: to let a company or a city or an organization know they’re really helping,” said Sardella, an adjunct lecturer at Olin. “How do you know your best programs? A lot of organizations are really struggling with that.”

In his presentation, Sardella will unveil a new study of civic well-being in the city of St. Louis, part of a broader study evolve24 has conducted in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, the District of Columbia, and San Monica. The research measures the outlook of residents and cross references residents’ “subjective well-being with data such as health, crime, housing starts, and other tangible data points.

Sardella was surprised to find, for example, how deeply the annual Shakespeare Festival St. Louis appears to influence civic well-being in the community. “That was definitely a little bit of an ‘ah-ha!'” Sardella said. “We had no idea.”

He said evolve24 uses publicly available digital content in its analysis of “subjective well-being,” running the unstructured, anonymous data through complex algorithms that can analyze what makes people happy about their communities—and what doesn’t. Data comes from open social media sites, blogs, comments in public forums, media news coverage, and elsewhere.

WashU leadership in the field

Knowing this information, he said, means organizations can better understand where their programs and initiatives have the biggest impact. Sardella hopes his presentation will highlight the ways business analytics—used with a values-based framework—can drive more principled decision-making. He also hopes it puts a spotlight on WashU Olin’s leadership in this area of business strategy.

“This is really important for WashU,” he said. “I’m passionate about it because some companies are starting to pull the plug on their data lakes. They’re struggling to create value for the business. But it’s about better decision-making. To make a better decision, you have to quantify and predict the consumer trends and make decisions now that match with those trends.”

Olin’s Center for Analytics and Business Insights and the Bauer Leadership Center will jointly present the October 5 Data for Good conference, which reinforces a key component of the Business School’s strategy to produce values-based, data-driven decision makers who are equipped to change the world, for good.

“It’s clear how carefully the organizers dovetailed their agenda with the needs of business leaders today and in the future,” said Olin Dean Mark Taylor. “I’m very much looking forward to hearing some of the takeaways our community colleagues and students will gain from our first Data for Good conference.”

The agenda includes presentations by executives from Equifax, Mastercard, and Daugherty Business Solutions that will explore issues such as data privacy, community philanthropy, and collaboration with a community to use the data.

The program will conclude with a keynote address by Jake Porway, founder and executive director of DataKind, a nonprofit that partners data scientists with leading social change organizations to ask the right questions—and find answers to maximize social impact.

Olin’s Data for Good conference starts with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. on October 5 in Emerson Auditorium. Click to learn more and register.