Tag: Professional MBA



This was written by the current Olin/United Way Board Fellows Program students who agreed to share their feedback anonymously from a recent survey. It was compiled by Amy VanEssendelft, CEL Senior Program Manager.

The Center for Experiential Learning provides an opportunity for MBA, PMBA and EMBA students to serve for a full year as a voting member of a local United Way member organization’s board through the Olin/United Way Board Fellows Program.  Al Kent serves as the program director for this opportunity. Al has been a member of over a dozen nonprofit boards throughout his life.

Every year, he outlines goals (highlighted below) for the students who participate in this program.  Under each goal are comments from current students who are participating in the program. These comments demonstrate how each goal is in the process of being achieved, especially with, and in spite of, the current COVID-19 challenges.

Work to define and solve an ambiguous problem

“I really appreciate the support and autonomy I’ve been given for my project.  I have built an understanding of the board dynamic and have gained support from key stakeholders.”  

“As I go forward, I have continued to learn to be agile and adaptive and look at creative ways to develop the advocacy campaign within (my agency) despite the limitations the current environment has placed on us.”  

“The president of my board said something in my first meeting which I remember vividly: If an organization succeeds, everyone is responsible for that success.  However, if an organization fails, it is the board’s fault.” 

Deepen understanding of leadership

“This has given me a different perspective on the leadership role boards play, and is particularly poignant right now during this crisis as our board is faced with incredibly difficult decisions.”  

“Watching how the executive director navigates the board and rallies them to action has been an incredible learning opportunity for me.”

 “In the most recent board meeting, I was able to witness in real time how an organization’s leadership communicates about and responds to a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

“I’ve observed how people bring their diverse backgrounds to the table and how interactions proceed when experienced leaders have a common goal.”

Understand how nonprofits work and learn board governance

“They are mission-driven and conscious about their budget/strategy/customer services just like any other entity.”

“I’m very surprised that a nonprofit could do such an amazing job and run like a corporation.”

 “Now, I see the crucial role they play in setting budgets, hiring directors, and truly deciding the direction of their organization.”  

 “Participating in all the board committee meetings helps me understand how everything comes together.”

Develop a professional network and build passion

“I have had the opportunity to interact with very high-impact individuals who are passionate about their mission and vision.” 

“It is clear that the board members are not just there because they are high dollar donors, but instead because they are incredibly engaged and passionate about the mission.” 

 “Their positivity is infectious and this motivates me to go forward.”




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.




Tim Edwards

By Megan Oliver, Special to Olin Blog

Two phrases that typically aren’t found together are “excellent wine” and “protecting the planet.” But to WashU Olin alumnus Tim Edwards, PMBA ’90 they couldn’t be any more related.

Since his time at Olin, Edwards has exemplified the core values of integrity, leadership, and excellence with his role as owner of the prolific St. Stephen Organic Vineyards. As a result, last month he was invited to address the United Nations Climate Change Division’s Annual Conference in Madrid about his ideas to finance actions to globally mitigate climate change.

Creating really great wine, with a mission

After leaving St. Louis, Edwards traveled across the world, ending up in the Colchagua Valley wine region of Chile—a country famous not only for its spectacular views and climate but also for its auspicious ability to make wine. There, Edwards purchased the land that would become St. Stephen Organic Vineyards.

In line with Olin’s entrepreneurial pillar of excellence, the primary goal of the vineyard was first and foremost to make the best possible organic wines, something specifically possible in this small corner of the world.

See Tim Edwards’ address to the UN climate conference. The address begins at the 3:29 mark.

Boasting a similar distance from the equator as Napa Valley, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the Colchagua Valley the best wine region in the world in 2005. Founding his business in this particularly capable region of the planet not only emphasizes his entrepreneurial spirit but also his commitment to being globally oriented, another pillar in Olin’s mission.

The secondary mission of the vineyard was to do something that betters this world. Staying true to the values-based and data-driven pillar of Olin’s mission, Edwards wanted to live up to his social and moral obligations in the best way he knew how.

After researching the effects of global emissions on the environment, Edwards decided that proceeds from every bottle of wine sold from St. Stephen would benefit organizations that are committed to helping the planet. “The idea that we could give a little bit of money to help it seems like the absolute least we could do,” Edwards said.

Speaking at the United Nations

This was the same philosophy that inspired Edwards’ speech at the UN Climate Change Conference, where countries negotiated ambitious plans to limit global warming. In Edwards’ address, he states his belief that the world already has the solutions to the crisis that faces us, but the problem lies in financing these changes.

Very simply, his idea relies on goodwill from major corporations and fostering influential consumer behavior. In order to finance much-needed change, Edwards calls upon Fortune 500 companies to fulfill the same social and moral code he has led by. He explains if Fortune 500 companies contribute, “1/100th of 1% of their revenue stream, that would be $1.4 billion.”

While Edwards understands “that won’t solve the problem,” he does believe “it’s a big step forward.”


Mark Taylor, approximately 10 years old in Warwickshire, England.
Mark Taylor, approximately 10 years old in Warwickshire, England.

On most Friday nights in the 1970s, you might find teenage Mark Taylor outside a pub in the UK’s working-class Warwickshire community hawking “American hotdogs” to the patrons who had just tipped back a pint or two.

Taylor made the circuit throughout the weekend, from the pub until 2 a.m., to the soccer ground on Saturday afternoon, to a nightclub on Saturday night, pocketing 20% of the proceeds to cover basic needs—school supplies, clothes and a few meals here and there.

Taylor knew he needed to ease the burden on his parents and three brothers—who either worked for—or were destined to work for—the local auto plant in the gritty industrial town. He had different dreams in mind.

Skip ahead six years. With innumerable hotdogs and a year working as a tutor behind him, Taylor had become the first in his family to complete the British equivalent of high school. With straight A’s on his exit exams—and intervention by a visionary headmaster—Taylor became the first in his family to attend college.

And not just any college: The oldest campus in the English-speaking world—tracing its origins to the 11th century—Oxford University, where Taylor had earned a seat to study philosophy, politics and economics.

Mark Taylor with his parents in Warwickshire, England.

“I suppose arriving at Oxford and being able to measure myself against people with different backgrounds—that was the first time I realized how transformational this could be,” Taylor said, recalling his early days at university. “Without financial assistance, it would not have been possible.”

That financial assistance came in the form of British government-sponsored scholarships available to high-achieving students who had been accepted by a university. With straight A’s on his exams, a seat at Oxford and working-class parents, Taylor not only qualified to have his fees covered, but he received a small government stipend to help with living expenses during his studies.

“You’d get one check at the start of each term, so you had to be very careful not to blow the lot in the first week,” Taylor said.

Taylor is particularly keen on the importance of undergraduate scholarships, which he views as the first and most formidable barrier. Once he had earned his undergraduate degree, Taylor was able to leverage that to get his first job in a professional career track.

From there, he could finance his further education, including a master’s in economics at Oxford, a PhD in economics from the University of London, a higher doctorate in finance from from the University of Warwick and a master’s in English renaissance and romantic literature from the University of Liverpool.

“For me, education was a totally transformational experience,” said Taylor. “The difference is not only in material well-being, but also in terms of ways you can enjoy and view the world in different ways.”

Learn more about the ways Olin works with scholarship recipients and donors—and learn how you can become one—on WashU Olin’s scholarship page.


In the first week of October, Anne Petersen was in the passenger seat driving through upstate New York when she noticed her email was starting to blow up.

The Weston Career Center coach was on vacation with her husband when inquiries started to roll in from an email the career center had just sent to thousands of WashU Olin alumni. “You’ll always be able to partner with the Weston Career Center for lifetime career support,” the email said, inviting alumni to seek support whenever they needed it.

Seek they did. More than 50 Olin alumni reached out within the week that the email blast and video went out. Some were recent alumni, out only a year or two. Some had left as long ago as the 1960s.

“The emails started coming and the phone started ringing immediately. It was more than we anticipated,” Petersen said. “I don’t think alums were aware of our coaching services and the breadth of resources available. They also didn’t realize that we work with alums across the country via phone or Skype, as well as in person in St. Louis.”

Existing services—and new ones

The email campaign and related video were designed to remind Olin alumni of the career coaching resources available to them long after they walked away with their diploma. Coaching, career assessment, personal branding, resume and LinkedIn profile building, interview preparation, networking and negotiation—all services alumni can continue to get from the Weston Career Center.

That day in October, Petersen started responding to alumni seeking ideas about making a career pivot or changing geographies. She set up later appointments with some and worked with Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center, who fielded inquiries and connected alums with experienced coaches on the WCC team—including Frans Van Oudenallen, Mary Houlihan and Kathie McCloskey.

“They’ve run the gamut from young alums, undergrads, MBAs, specialized masters, senior citizens, mothers that were out of the workforce,” Petersen said. “It’s been a great process. We have had the opportunity to work with a lot of fascinating alums.”

Once Olin, Always Olin

A number of them have started by taking advantage of the WCC’s career leader assessment, a survey instrument that normally costs $75—but is available to alumni free of charge.

“It gives alums insight regarding their interests, motivations, skills, potential career directions and company culture matches,” Petersen said.Petersen said. The response to the email has been gratifying for the WCC team, who had sensed the services were not well-known enough or that alumni from outside St. Louis might be reticent to take advantage of them.

“They very much are commenting about the idea of ‘Once Olin, Always Olin’— the idea that it’s for me at any stage of your career,” Petersen said. “They felt like, ‘This does pertain to me—no matter where I am.'”

Looking for career help as an Olin alum? Contact Anne Petersen for career coaching resources (annepetersen@wustl.edu or 314-935-8951), or Jen Whitten (jwhitten@wustl.edu or 314-935-8970) to discuss WCC’s resources or any questions you might have. For remote coaching, the WCC is prepared to connect via Skype, phone or in person.




The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni (and Dean Taylor) faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is one of those vignettes.

In 2007 and 2008, as world markets tumbled into history’s worst global financial crisis, Mark Taylor was managing the European arm of a $10 billion global hedge fund—and 95 percent of his clients were pension funds. The crisis demanded staff reductions in his team, and with returns down, remaining employees took massive hits to their incentive-based compensation.

“How do you motivate a staff when you’re in the middle of a financial crisis?” Taylor asked. Part of the answer: Leverage as much data as possible to analyze long- term fundamentals—recognizing that the crisis had rendered much conventional analysis unworkable. The goal: Stem losses and preserve as much wealth as possible.

But another part of the answer meant Taylor had to reinforce for his team the reasons they came to work every day.

“This was other people’s money. If we walked away, people’s pension funds could disappear,” he said. When he met with pension fund trustees, he asked them to invite some of the retirees themselves, placing them across the table from his own junior and senior staff members.

His team responded positively to the motivation. And in the darkest moment, Taylor said, his fund was down about 10 percent when world markets were down 40 percent. The fund rebounded sharply the next year.