Tag: Professional MBA



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.”




It’s a familiar tune by now: We can’t host this annual event in person, so what do we do? Can we even have it virtually? What are we going to do?

Those were all questions Jackie Carter, Diversity & Inclusion Programs Manager, and WashU Olin’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee asked as they began to prepare for the sixth annual Diversity & Inclusion Expo. Typically held during the dean’s welcome back event, the expo brings together groups from Olin and throughout the university to showcase resources and ways students, faculty members or staff members can get involved with multicultural, justice and equity efforts.

Carter and her team’s decision ultimately came down to the importance of such an event for the WashU Olin community: “Diversity, equity inclusion work is not one-person work, and it’s not about just having affinity groups,” she said. And this experience was an opportunity to showcase the depth and the value of diversity and inclusion at Olin.

Over the course of 90 minutes, 18 groups opened Zoom meeting spaces as faculty, staff and students visited and learned about the resources and clubs they can get involved with.

For Carter, the annual expo is an important space for students, faculty and staff to bring their beginning-of-the-year energy and enthusiasm to get involved and learn about opportunities and resources they might not know about.

And for those who attended, that’s exactly what they got. Staff and students reflected on the experience:

“ I learned that the creation of space for faculty and staff voices to be heard came from years of them being silenced and not being heard. Finally the administration realized that faculty and staff needed to be brought to the table, especially concerning HR issues and issues that are inherently unique to that population. It was good to know that faculty and staff are being thought about. In my previous position, that didn’t exist. Without a diverse workplace, diverse ideas and thoughts can’t emerge.” Leia Burroughs, event specialist, graduate programs

“I had the chance to talk to undergraduate students who wanted to know how to engage with the Latin American community in St. Louis. It was refreshing to see people who wanted to connect, share interests and keep a positive attitude.” Gabriel Samanez, MBA ’21, president, Latin American Business Association

“The Diversity and Inclusion Expo was a great opportunity to connect with students and faculty to share our plans for D&I work this year, and learn about what others are doing as well. We’re looking forward to partnering with other groups on campus to host events throughout the year that champion diversity and inclusion efforts.” Alex Halfpap, MBA ’21, president, Olin Women in Business

“In times like these, Olin Black is a space for dialogue and action. We were excited to meet students and staff who are just as passionate about Olin Black’s mission as much as we are. In an hour and 30 minutes we were able to converse with admission personnel, recruiting coaches, and students who want to create a meaningful inclusive and diverse Olin.” Fanta Kaba and Déjá Miles, officers, Olin Black MBA Association

“We showed our determination to continue the tradition of diversity at the Greater China Club.” Lin Cheng, MBA ’21, vice president, Greater China Club

“I think this event was valuable because we are surrounded by diversity in our community and it’s our responsibility to keep pushing the needle in ensuring we are living equitable lives. The D&I expo helped to bring us together and showed that students in the community are committed to growing into well-rounded leaders who would acknowledge the diverse perspectives around them while creating an environment for equity and justice to thrive.” Itohan Enadeghe, co-president, Olin Africa Business Club


Though this year’s event looked and felt different than previous years,  Carter is pleased with the results—though she knows this event is just the beginning each year of developing relationships with students, faculty and staff who are determined to embrace diversity and inclusion.

“My hope for WashU Olin is that we can be a place of true inclusion and belonging. That regardless of my race, my background, my gender, I’ll feel a part of it,” she said.

“And that we can all understand that equality isn’t something being taken away from someone else. If I make something better for someone else, it makes the whole better.”  




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.


Career coaches and advisors in WashU Olin’s Weston Career Center understand it’s a tough time to emerge into the workforce, thanks to a global pandemic that’s wreaked havoc on the economy and cast uncertainty into the outlook for many companies.

Their advice: Don’t despair. Check out these resources for ideas, direction and inspiration.

HIRING REALLY HASN’T STOPPED. Just because the overall economy has slowed let’s not assume hiring opportunities have disappeared.  In fact, check out this article from The Muse regarding companies that are still hiring. The Muse

GET YOUR NETWORKING GOING. Although your approach may be different, now is definitely the right time to build or enhance your network during COVID-19.  Just ask…KornFerry.

EVEN IN THE ERA OF SOCIAL DISTANCING. Fortune Magazine also offers suggestions on networking in the era of social distancing: Fortune Magazine.

PREP FOR A VIRTUAL INTERVIEW. For the next few months, look for all recruiting activities to be virtual.  How ready are you to meet the challenge of a virtual interview? Indeed.com has some ideas for you to consider: Indeed.com.

BUT BRUSH UP FIRST. This is an extremely competitive time in the job market.  You have an opportunity now to brush up on your interview skills, so please make this a priority. Here is an article from The Muse that may help: The Muse Interview Guide.