Tag: Professional MBA



Allison Halpern, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of Bauer Leadership Center.

Last week, the Bauer Leadership fellows discussed the challenges and responsibilities of a leader. All fellows are MBA students serving as Center for Experiential Learning team leads for a project within their practicum program. In this role, they need to manage relationships with their teammates, mentors, and clients.

To navigate these winding roads successfully, they collaborated and role played tough situations to understand how to solve problems and create impact as a leader. To extend this conversation beyond the meeting walls, I wanted to share their words of wisdom here to continue building values-based leaders here at WashU.

Communicate Early; Set Goals; Manage Expectations

Many fellows discussed coming into a team with prior friendships with other members. Established relationships can be difficult to break, especially if you are coming into a role as a superior with a team of fellow students. It is important to set the goals up front for you as a leader and other team members in various roles to give them freedom and leadership.

This allows everyone to have responsibilities where they can shine. It also grounds you with a sense of authority and respect.

And these conversations go beyond the team, too. Each group has a mentor to guide them through the practicum. They are there for guidance and to provide a more experienced perspective, but making sure they are doing this properly can be difficult.

Taylor Ohman, previous CEL team lead and BLC Fellow, said it well: “This is the Center for Experiential Learning—the point is to work through the struggles and learn how to do better.”

With this in mind, its important for this mentor to let students solve problems to learn and grow in this safe space.

Take on the Responsibility of the Team

As one of the fellows said it, be a “leader servant.” Leaders will get much of the praise when things go well—and all of the brunt if they don’t. If another teammate is having an off week, it is on the leader to pick up the slack.

And if nitty-gritty administrative work needs to be done, it is important for the leader to pick up on it to allow the rest of the team to focus on the parts that matter most to them. As a leader, it is your job to bring the best out of your team.

Sometimes, that means doing the not-so-glamorous work and taking the fall when things go wrong. But it’s also important to know how to bounce back.

Adapt, Improvise, and Shift Plans, If Needed

Of course, you can set goals and take on hard responsibilities, but some things just might not go as you thought—and that’s OK. As a leader, it is critical to learn how to act on your feet and continually manage performance.

If someone is not performing up to par, discuss it with this person in a direct, mature, and decisive manner. Improvise on what their responsibilities are to provide tasks that can be benchmarks for success. Every team member will work differently, so work to understand these differences to create a cohesive team dynamic.




Sarah Kaplan, BFA 2018, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.

Through a panel discussion cohosted by the Bauer Leadership Center and the Century Club Business Series, the 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award honorees shared how value systems have shaped their career paths.

  • Zack Boyers, MBA 01’, chairman and CEO, U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corp., St. Louis.
  • Shirley Cunningham, MBA ’08, executive vice president, AG Business and Enterprise Strategy, CHS Inc., Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.
  • Munir Mashooqullah, MBA ’98, founder and custodian, Synergies Worldwide, Thailand.
  • Richard Ritholz, BSBA ’84, partner, senior portfolio manager and head of global commodities trading, Elliott Management Corporation, New York City.

A defining theme throughout the discussion was the significance of having a global perspective while relying on a focused value system.

Global Thinking

Richard Ritholz described not understanding globalization as going into a fight with one arm tied behind your back. In an increasingly “fast-changing and globalized world,” an appreciation for how other people think is incredibly important.

Having spent time abroad in England, Italy, Norway, and Holland working for Mobil Oil, Ritholz had to assimilate across many cultures.

“It really opened up my mind,” he said. “Without the experience of internationalization, I just don’t think I would have thought about things with as open a mind as I was able to, and I am not so sure I would have been as successful.”

Shirley Cunningham likewise shared how in her experience working around the world, a global perspective makes you think more broadly. “It makes you think in a more rounded way if you think about the globe as the opportunity versus just a narrow strip.”

With global opportunity also comes global responsibility. Munir Mashooqullah pointedly stated that all of us now have a global footprint.

“You cannot be a leader or a manager or have skills without understanding how things work around the world,” he said. Mashooqulla shared a tip he picked up from the president/CEO of Bain: CEOs have to be the leader of an ecosystem, not just a singular asset. This applies to not only global corporations, but also national organizations.

As Zach Boyers shared that working in a primarily US-based company, technology and global change still affect national organizations. In handling these global shifts and changes, it is important to have a dedicated core set of values to act upon.

Focused Values

In addressing a global business world, all four alums agreed on the importance of not just having core values, but focusing on implementing them within one’s own organization. Boyers got to the heart of the matter: “The question really becomes, what do values mean in practice and in an operating model in your business?”

To implement a core value of teamwork into his own operating model, Ritholz starts by understanding the impact of teamwork, then “I work backward and try to figure out what we need in order to engender that type of teamwork, spirit, and camaraderie.”

Mashooqullah shared another strategy implementing a values-based culture: Values must start at the top.

“We put on our website that reputation is what other people think of you, and that character is what you are,” he said. “Culture is important because without that, you cannot pre-populate an organization with what you think.”

Without a cultivated culture, it is difficult to act on specified values. Cunningham also emphasized a values-based culture. She shared an experience working in a blame-oriented culture.

From relying on her core values of integrity and problem solving, she was able to re-align with a business environment, which also supported that belief system. When it comes to values in a global world, a resounding reminder from these alums is that you cannot just talk to the talk, but you must walk the walk.

Be sure to click this link to see the Distinguished Alumni Symposium on April 12, 2018, or view the video below.




Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004,

Don Dorsey, pictured in 2004

C. Donald Dorsey, a member of Olin’s National Council, a longtime scholarship supporter, and distinguished alumnus, died on Thursday (May 3, 2018). He was 76.

Mr. Dorsey served as a senior executive for PetSmart during its rapid expansion from seven stores to more than 500. He even served a stint as interim CEO for the company’s operations in the UK, where he was credited with stabilizing its operations in the late 1990s and positioning the overseas unit for continuous improvement at that time.

Longtime members of the Olin community recalled Mr. Dorsey as a tireless booster for Olin and Washington University, where he received his BSBA degree in 1964.

“He was pretty close to me,” said Robert Virgil, dean emeritus at Olin. “He was one of my very first students when I started teaching. I go back a long way with him. I remember him well as a good student, a leader of his class and after graduating, a dedicated alum of Washington University—very generous.”

Virgil recalled Mr. Dorsey being very active in Washington University’s Scholarship Initiative Campaign. Indeed, he and his wife have been benefactors of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship since 2006. Two years earlier, Mr. Dorsey had received Olin’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his career accomplishments.

“Don was a very special friend for Olin Business School and Washington University,” said Mahendra Gupta, former Olin dean and Geraldine J. and Robert L. Virgil Professor of Accounting and Management. “He loved his school and his university and was always there to support them and to be a great ambassador.”

Gupta recalled recruiting a reluctant Mr. Dorsey to the National Council by inviting him to a meeting, where he was impressed by the membership of the group and the intense dedication each member shared for the future of the school. He joined the council in 2009.

“Don was an engaged member of the Olin community through his service on our National Council,” Dean Mark Taylor said. “His commitment to supporting students is inspiring and I am grateful for how welcoming he was during my first year as dean.”

Career Highlights

Mr. Dorsey was a St. Louis native through-and-through, graduating from Normandy High School, attending Washington University, and signing on for his first job with Price Waterhouse locally. He worked there 12 years before moving into general management with retailers in the grocery, automotive, and eye-ware industries.

In 1989, Mr. Dorsey joined PetSmart—three years after it launched—as senior vice president and chief financial officer, helping the company through enormous growth. The chain had blossomed to more than 500 stores and Mr. Dorsey helped guide the company through its 1993 IPO before he retired in 1999.

“Being a CPA was a strong background for moving into general management,” Mr. Dorsey said upon receiving recognition as a distinguished alumnus. “In building PetSmart, we began by working with consumer focus groups to discover what our customers really needed. From that basis, we built on the concept of one-stop service for their pets.”

At about that time, after his leadership, the company’s UK unit was acquired by UK-based Pets at Home in December 1999. PetSmart later went private after its 2015 takeover by BC Partners for $8.7 billion.

Following his retirement, Mr. Dorsey worked as an adviser and investor for several development-stage consumer-related companies such as Ulta Beauty and Five Below.

His wife Lydia and his children were with him at the time of his death. Mr. Dorsey is survived by his wife, Lydia; daughter, Lisa. and son-in-law, Ken Stewart; daughter, Christine Dorsey; stepsons, Eric Bazarnic and Cliff Bazarnic; daughters-in-law, Lynn Ducey and Zoja Bazarnic.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

Pictured above: National Council member and BSBA ’64 Don Dorsey with Frank Duan, BSBA ’16, recipient of the Donald and Lydia Dorsey Scholarship.


The Center for Experiential Learning celebrated the accomplishments of 44 participants in the Olin/United Way Board Fellows program on Monday, April 23. The students served 46 agencies across our region.

In addition, the CEL recognized six agencies that celebrated their five-year anniversary with the board fellows program: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America St. Louis Chapter; JDRF; Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House; The Salvation Army Midland Division; Senior Services Plus, and the Wyman Center.

In the video above, we meet several Olin students as they embarked on their board service at the start of the 2017-2018 academic year. Later, we check in on the reaction to their time as nonprofit board members and we also get a chance to hear from staff members from several of the agencies that participated in the program.

The Olin/United Way Board Fellows program pairs Olin graduate students with United Way of St. Louis-supported nonprofits for a one-year term on the agency’s board. In addition to their board service—as full, voting members—they are responsible for executing a project designed to provide lasting social impact. These projects bring to bear innovative thinking, detailed analysis, and valuable recommendations from talented Olin students through their pro bono service.




This past spring break, members of the Missouri Botanical Garden Practicum team packed their bags and traveled 30 hours to Antananarivo, Madagascar—the capital city, known as “Tana.”

So, what is going on in Madagascar with two Center for Experiential Learning programs there (yes, there is Madagascar Sustainability Initiative, too)? The world’s fourth-largest island has a fascinating history, geography, and climate. Consequently, the country features tremendous biodiversity; in fact, more than 90 percent of all the plant species in Madagascar are found nowhere else in the world.

Therefore, Madagascar is of particular significance to conservationists and botanists. The Missouri Botanical Garden has been present in Madagascar for more than 30 years. They currently manage 13 ecologically unique sites around the country, collecting data and discovering new plant species each year. In short, the botanical garden has partnered with a CEL team of students to consult on improvements to their work in Madagascar while focusing on the future sustainability of the ongoing effort.

Prior to the trip, the team met with several staff members of the Missouri Botanical Garden, learning about the Garden’s history, goals, and efforts. Afterward, the staff gave them a tour of the research facility, with more than 7 million unique plants catalogued and stored in a botanist’s heaven. With this foundation in place, they were ready to venture to Madagascar to learn more.

The team set out on this trip with a mission in mind: To meet with the Missouri Botanical Garden’s staff in Madagascar and to learn about the operations and the conservation work of the organization at the national and local levels. Here is Laini Cassis’, MBA, ‘19, account of the trip on how they reached their goals during each day:

Diving into the First Day

On our first day in Tana, we met with the botanical garden’s staff members at their headquarters. The following day, we embarked on a full day of driving and sightseeing to one of the garden’s 13 conservation sites: Analalava, which is home to 12 plant species that are not found anywhere else on Earth. This protected forest on the east coast of Madagascar is home to lemurs, tree frogs, and bats—all of which we saw on a guided hike.

While at Analalava, we visited the site’s fishponds and tree nursery, and a local rural community called Fokontany Bongabe. While there, farmers brought us to their community garden, which generates additional income for their families. We learned about important crops such as vanilla and cloves.

The employees at Analalava work closely with surrounding communities like this one to create livelihood alternatives to protect the forest. It was incredible to see such community engagement for environmental action

Our stay at Analalava was rustic, but we had a fantastic time. We were lucky to not face a thunderstorm, or worse: a cyclone! Every meal included tropical fruits such as longans, pineapples, lychees, avocados, and coconuts (without straws). In such a rural place, the night sky revealed the dazzling Milky Way. We also went to the Indian Ocean and took a stroll along the beautiful beach in the nearby town of Foulpointe.

After another day of driving, we returned to Tana. The CEL team delved into our observations and reflections, and then presented to the MBG staff in Tana about our work objectives and project expectations.

On our final day in Madagascar, we did some sightseeing around the capital. We walked downtown, took some thrilling taxi rides, visited the highest point of the city, and toured the botanical garden and zoo. It was an eventful and eye-opening week, but it was time to leave Madagascar with another series of long flights.

Our team’s success and safety in Madagascar was largely thanks to the local Missouri Botanical Garden staff, who provided expert advice and guidance every step of the way—from ordering food to bargaining souvenirs, to handling logistical details.

We are thankful for the assistance that enabled us to focus on our assignment without disruption. Now recovered from jet lag, the team looks forward to crafting our final product and delivering impact to the Missouri Botanical Garden.




Jamie Semler, BSBA ’18, wrote this post on behalf of the Bauer Leadership Center.

“Are you prepared to be a leader?”

As an undergraduate business school student, I have been taught the technical skills and knowledge needed to excel in my career and the fundamental aspects of management and professionalism. The emphasis in my coursework on data-based decision making and evaluation of success through numerical measures and ratios has prepared me to be a valuable future manager in any organization.

Yet, as Bob Chapman—chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Group—challenges us to answer the question above, I am forced to think about the ways in which my education and experiences have contributed to or fallen short of preparing me for my career.

In describing his experiences and leadership philosophy, often termed “Truly Human Leadership,” Bob helped us all attempt to think about and answer the above question and left us with some key takeaways about being an impactful leader:

Taking Responsibility for Other People’s Lives

Bob’s realization of the profound impact leaders have on those that they lead has spurred his belief that leaders are responsible for being stewards for the people they lead. Through his experiences at Barry-Wehmiller he has seen the effect his actions as a leader have had on the health, family life, and work satisfaction/enjoyment of his employees.

 Having the Courage To Care

The main principle underlying Bob’s leadership style is the importance of showing that you care about those who you are leading. This idea is best explained by Bob’s statement that “the greatest thing you can do as a leader is let people know they matter.”

In order to show appreciation for his employees, he has created a guiding principles award aimed at recognizing and rewarding those who exemplify leadership and company values, as nominated by their peers. The emotional responses to getting the award demonstrate the impact this type of leadership tactic has on the morale of the employees.

Defining Success

By measuring success by how he touches the lives of people, rather than solely by economic figures, Bob has created an environment that shows that he takes an interest in his employees. The way in which he handled the economic downturn of 2009 shows that he places importance on the lives of the people.

Instead of laying people off, which would severely affect the lives of many people, he decided that since he measures success by the way he touches people’s lives, he would not fire anyone and instead ask people to take a one month unpaid vacation, so that everyone suffered a little loss, but no one suffered a complete loss.

Understanding the Importance of Business Strategy

Although Bob puts much emphasis on being good to his people, he also notes the importance of having a strong business model in order to be able to support the them.  In talking about some key aspects of a strong business model, he emphasizes the importance of focusing on cash, growth through organic means and acquisitions, developing a sustainable model that balances markets and customers, and building a board of directors that you respect and who will challenge your thinking.


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