Tag: SMP

Frankie Hong, MSFQ ’20, is a Center for Experiential Learning practicum fellow—and the first from Olin’s Specialized Masters Program.

I was placed on the team for the practicum project of Midwest BankCentre in the spring 2020 semester, and this project is still one of my highlights at Olin. It was the first time that I interacted with a real-life client to such an extent.

I still remember being nervous and anxious, trying to play it cool. But I could not keep my legs from shaking at the first in-person client meeting in January 2020 in the Pagedale community. 

Stepping into the unknown can be intimidating, but this experience excited me even more as we started to see the bigger picture. We held multiple stakeholder meetings with the clients and the faculty advisors to tell the story using the best models we could find. The clients were supportive and able to provide resources and feedback. They became my mentors when I landed in this part of the finance world.

It was a fortunate coincidence that my summer internship was at a St. Louis FinTech company, where our clients were community banks across the US. The knowledge I gained from the spring practicum was valuable throughout my summer internship. Working alongside several Olin students, we managed to create a valuation tool for community banks in only eight weeks. This experience reinforced the importance of experiential learning and implementing the values-based and data-driven approaches I learned at Olin.

Continuing his CEL journey

These experiences helped me make up my mind to apply for a practicum fellow role to continue my CEL journey. It did not occur to me then that I would become the first fellow for practicum from the SMP population.

As a practicum fellow, I had the honor of working with the Purina team for the fall 2020 semester. Each team member brought passion and expertise to the work and strived to deliver a successful final product to the client. The team also gave me full support on my fellowship project, which is to look at how to improve the SMP students’ recruitment process and facilitate collaboration among different communities.

Ability and diversity

Through interviews and surveys, I learned more about this cohort’s ability and diversity and was amazed by the talents people can bring to the table. The awareness of CEL experiential programs is relatively high among the SMPs. Some even indicated that these programs are one of the biggest reasons they chose to attend Olin, since successfully managing the programs reflects the business school’s power to offer quality service and professional guidance to students. For students coming straight to Olin after finishing their undergraduate study, the variety of experiential programs provide a valuable way to gain their first consulting experience working with real clients and apply skills learned in the classroom to practice.

When asked about their experience, many SMPs participants in the fall semester told me they were surprised at how the team collaborated efficiently in the virtual setup. Some of them took up the role of “technical team lead” when the project required unique skills such as website design and data analytics.

Even when entering an industry that they were not familiar with, students believe a fantastic team lead, an engaged faculty advisor and a responsive client will all contribute to achieving a satisfying result.

I encourage all SMP students to participate in experiential learnings programs where theory meets practice. Do not hesitate to offer your fresh perspectives and even plan on showing your leadership skills in a team. 

We have come a long way and will continue navigating through the uncertainties ahead of us. As I continue to work as a CEL practicum fellow in the spring semester, I look forward to the journey ahead and am more than happy to connect with Olin’s talents.

As Mini A session ended, students took some time off to visit two wineries near St Louis. Around 32 students signed up for the event. The tour was held on October 22 from 12 pm – 5 pm and was organized by the very dedicated team of SMP Liaisons. There was great enthusiasm among all the students as some of them were visiting a winery for the first time.

The students met on campus and left together from campus to the two wineries. They first went to Noboleis Winery in Augusta, MO. It was a beautiful vineyard on a bright sunny day. At Noboleis, the students tasted five different types of wine. There was great excitement in the group as they tasted and discussed the various types of wines. Some students bought a bottle of wine after the tasting. Needless to say, Noboleis had some of the best wines.

Fun Facts about the Missouri Wine & Grape Industry

  • boasts more than 125 wineries
  •  1,700 acres of vineyards
  • 15,000 full-time employees
  • $1.76 billion annual economic impact on the Missouri economy

This was followed up by lunch arranged by the SMP Liaisons. Everyone enjoyed the lovely sunny day and the winery looked beautiful with all the colors of fall. Students talked and took pictures. They talked to the people at Noboleis and learned more about the winery and the wines. Once the tour at Noboleis ended, the group moved on to the next venue at the Chandler Hill winery in Defiance, MO.

Chandler Hill is one of the most famous wineries in Missouri and is known for its great variety of wines. Chandler was busier and more crowded. It also had a live music show for its visitors. Students enjoyed the music along with some fine-tasting wine. Students tried red and white wines and aged wines, and basked in the beautiful surroundings. The lake around the winery further added to the picturesque view.

The team of SMP Liaisons have put in a great deal of effort in bringing this excursion together and their efforts are commendable. The tour received a great response and participation from the students. It was great to see this diverse group of students come together and mingle with each other. Olin has always established diversity as one of the key values it strives for and such events ensure that international students experience the local culture and interact with the locales. Over the years the enthusiasm among the students has only increased and it is amazing to see such participation from everyone.

 Guest blogger: Ayshwarya Rangarajan, SMP Ambassador Co-Director

Improv and business are both collaborative acts: initiative and ideas must be accepted, and built on by everyone involved. Too quickly we want to say “no” to new thoughts or approaches, to criticize and discount, but opening up yourself to “yes” encourages the teamwork, innovation, and flexibility that furthers an acting scene or propels a business idea forward.

improv1During orientation in August, a group of 40 first-year Specialized Masters Program (SMP) students gathered in the Active Learning Lab of Bauer Hall with members of R-S Theatrics, a professional theatre company in St. Louis, to try some improvisational acting techniques.

The workshop, called “Business and Improvisational Acting,” involves demonstrations by actors followed by exercises for the students.

The guidelines for successful improv also apply to the world of business, and these guidelines can be simplified into one phrase: Yes, and…

Generally put, improvisational acting (or “improv”) is a form of theatre where two or more people act out a scene without a script. It is up to those involved to create in real-time a coherent story, characters, setting, and dialogue.

Productive collaboration does not occur, however, until everyone is listening. Too often we are busy thinking about what we want to say instead of listening to what is being said by others.

An improvisational actor must listen to his or her scene partner, as the partner’s ideas are just as important and intrinsic to the action onstage. At the same time, listening to what is being said at a meeting instead of just waiting for your turn to speak will widen your perspective.

It will influence what you have to contribute and show the other people that you are open to what they are saying. Additionally, the often stilted and uncomfortable world of networking becomes a lot easier when you focus on responding to the other person’s thoughts as a way to start a dialogue.

improv-4The workshop students started the session listening politely to the workshop leader with slightly puzzled looks on the faces, but ended the session enthusiastically engaged in improv exercises that illustrated the points above.

The application of improvisational acting to the business world is starting to be explored by university business programs across the country. If you wish to pursue this approach further, keep your eyes open for further workshops this school year at Olin.

Guest Blogger: Mark Kelley, Graduate Programs Records Assistant and member of the R-S Improv Theatrics Troupe

New students in the Specialized Masters Programs (SMP) are already on campus and starting classes after a busy week of Orientation.  To familiarize students with Olin, WashU, St. Louis, and all they have to offer, we had many presentations, tours, and social events. We hope our global group of new SMPs enjoy getting to know their new classmates and begin to build life-long friendships as part of the Olin family.

SMP at a glance:

  • Olin received 2,702 applications to the SMP programs. A total of 220 students are enrolled this semester.
  • Students represent 13 countries: Bolivia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Taiwan, and the United States.
  • 138 different undergraduate schools are represented.
  • 17 students from WUSTL
  • Undergraduate majors include: Accounting, Business Administration, Finance, International Business, Management, Marketing, MIS, Operations Manufacturing Management, Economics, Engineering (Bio Med, Chemical, Civil, Computer Science, Electrical, General, Industrial, Marine Transportation, Mechanical), English Literature, Philosophy, Science (Biochem, Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, Neurobiology, Physics), Social Science (Asian Studies, Foreign Languages, German, Journalism, Political Science, Architecture)

Programs offered at Olin followed by number of students enrolled this semester:

  • Global Master of Finance , GMF 43
  • Master of Accounting, MACC 54
  • Master of Science in Customer Analytics,  MSCA 32
  • Master of Science in Finance, Quant track: MSFQ 37; Corporate track: MSFC 34
  • Master of Science in Supply Chain Management,  MSSCM 20

For more information about our programs visit the Olin website.

“One of the major questions facing graduate business school directors today is how to deal with the growth of specialized masters programs (SMPs) over the past five to eight years,” says Joe Fox, associate dean and director of Olin’s MBA program. While adding specialized master degree programs such as Master of Supply Chain, Global Master of Finance, and Master of Consumer Analytics is a response to market demands, business schools must find curriculum and staff efficiencies in order to meet the needs of new programs.

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Fox is currently the president of the MBA Roundtable, a global association of business schools whose mission is to advance graduate management education through MBA curricular and program innovation.

In the video (click above), Fox discusses results of a survey conducted by the MBA Roundtable  on questions related to curriculum and governance in light of the growth spurt in specialized master programs.

The purpose of the “Study on Shared Curriculum and Governance” was to better understand the extent to which MBA core courses are the same or different in other MBA and MS offerings within the business school portfolio and the level at which curricular decisions are made in the school.

The survey was conducted in Fall 2014 with 219 respondent business schools from North America, Europe and Asia.

Image: Olin SMP graduates Dec. 2014