Tag: Specialized Masters

Students from the Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation competing for best mini-consulting project

Giving clients accurate, real-time visibility into the supply chain. Analyzing the cost-to-serve for a range of customers. Investigating new markets for growth opportunities, while accounting for existing resource constraints. Wrangling complex supply lines to optimize manufacturing and distribution.

These are some of the toughest challenges facing companies today. This fall, WashU Olin’s Boeing Center for Supply Chain Innovation (BCSCI) brings together the center’s brightest student minds to solve them for real-world clients.

It’s a benefit of corporate membership with the Boeing Center—the ability to assign a mini-consulting project to a student team, said Evan Dalton, digital marketing coordinator for the Boeing Center. The students are typically pursuing specialized master’s degrees in supply chain management and business analytics.

“Clients know they’re getting high-quality students who will do a good job for them,” Dalton said. “Member companies have attributed millions of dollars of savings after implementing recommendations and decision support tools resultant from these projects.”

For their part, the students not only get to work on meaty projects to sharpen their skills, they also connect with companies that may potentially be hiring once they graduate. “I’ve heard from some students that this program is the reason they decided to come here,” Dalton said.

A growing support team

BCSCI Director Panos Kouvelis carefully screens all client projects to ensure they fit with students’ skills and faculty expertise.

The student consultants are backed by experienced support teams provided by the Boeing Center: a faculty advisor, a project manager (usually Dalton or BCSCI Operations Manager Andy Sample), a PhD student who can lead the team through any unfamiliar skills required and an MBA student who serves as an “ambassador” to the company.

New this year: “We’re including technical advisors, students we hire from the engineering school who have a background in coding, database design and searching techniques, and software development,” Dalton said. The technical support allows student teams to further integrate company data into decision support tools that they build for clients.

He said Kouvelis and other expert faculty leading the student teams do a final vetting of the analyses and recommendations.

This year’s lineup of clients includes German-based pharma and biotech company Bayer, global agri-business firm Bunge, life science supplier MilliporeSigma, and St. Louis-based pharmacy giant Express Scripts. Previous clients have included Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Belden, Emerson, Hunter Engineering, West Pharma and Edward Jones.

These firms support the Boeing Center as member institutions, contributing funding to the center’s operations. One of this year’s clients is the nonprofit Unity Foundation; Dalton said the center occasionally tackles projects for nonprofits at a reduced rate to provide challenging learning opportunities for students.

‘Win-win proposition’

At the end of the semester, the consulting teams present their solutions to the companies. Student teams from both semesters make presentations at an end-of-year symposium in the spring. They compete for most impactful project and a share of a $5,000 prize.

Dalton said the event draws many member clients, even those without a project in the running. “Seeing the types of projects we do for other companies helps them better utilize us in the future,” he said.

He said the school appreciates the opportunities the clients provide Boeing Center students. “We are hoping that the student skills and legwork, combined with faculty expertise, generate productive solutions for them. A win-win proposition across the board.”

Photo: Participants at the Boeing Center’s May 2023 Project of the Year Symposium. Five teams of students presented the results of their mini-consulting projects from the previous school year, competing for a share of a $5,000 award pool.

St. Louis skyline

As a graduate student, you’re about to begin an exciting phase in your life by joining a new campus community. You’re opening yourself up to new student experiences, living in a different neighborhood, beginning your career, and seizing opportunities to learn and meet people who will be influential in your life.

There’s a lot to think about at this time, so to help you make sense of everything you’re learning, here’s your guide to some of the on-campus resources we have here at WashU.

Finding your way around

As you settle into campus life, you will want to find your own favorite places — your late-night haunts, your secret hideouts, your study spots. You’ll also need to find the set of locations on your schedule and create your on-campus routine.

WashU’s residential life webpage has a ton of helpful advice for you such as checklists to help you move, budgeting guidance, and information on utilities. As you get to know your way around, use Washington University campus resources to find your department and navigate St. Louis student activities.

Your student packet will come with a guide to St. Louis but you can also find useful information on the different neighborhoods around our campus at Explore St. Louis.

And to make the most of the city, you’ll want to check out local transportation and parking options, especially to make your first few days run smoothly. Whether you’re a driver or you’ll be mostly walking and using public transportation, you can check out Washington University in St. Louis Parking and Transportation Services, which will set you up with parking permits and metro passes. The campus also has a shuttle service, and you can find all the schedules, routes, and even real-time tracking of the shuttles.

What if you need help?

As you get to know the different on-campus resources available to you and adjust to this new experience, it may be helpful to know where to go if you need a helping hand or just a listening ear.

The Habif Health and Wellness Center is here for you, both in-person and through a student portal. The center’s staff can set you up with many kinds of help, from fulfilling vaccination requirements to figuring out student health insurance. All the services you might need can be located or accessed via the team here, including health services, mental health offerings, and reproductive health resources.

Thinking about your career

As you embark on a full-time MBA experience, thoughts about future goals and projects might be running through your head.

The first port of call for career interests or concerns is the Weston Career Center. Just make an appointment with one of the career advisors here and you can start making connections and learning skills that will help you achieve your career goals. Want to become a supremely prepared job candidate? Interested to learn how to gain experience in a particular industry? That’s what the career center is for.

If you want to get creative with your learning schedule and start trying out new skills and experiential learning, you’ll want to visit the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL). With a basis in business and nonprofit consulting, the CEL is a great matchmaker, pairing faculty mentors with students eager to apply what they’re learning in class in a practical format.

What should you do next?

As you await your first classes, there’s plenty you can do to get ready for campus life.

First, make sure you have all the health check-ins you need. Schedule any vaccinations you’re missing. You can find full vaccine information through the Wellness Center. And if you have any worries or concerns about mental health, make sure to browse Olin’s campus mental health resources.

Next, set yourself up with great housing so you can get excited about your campus experience. Whether you choose one of the on-campus options or an off-campus lease or sub-lease, we can help you find the right environment for you.

Lastly, keep checking your campus email as the semester gets closer. We’ll be sending you lots more on-campus resources as well as specific advice and opportunities related to the full-time MBA experience. Ask as many questions as you can — there is a whole team of people in our campus centers and organizations ready and looking forward to helping you have the best experience imaginable.

Charlie Xu, MSF

Charlie-Yitong Xu, MSF ’22, was the student speaker at the graduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 20, 2022, selected by his peers. Here is what he had to say to his fellow graduates.

Thank you, Dean, for the great introduction and throwback. Good morning, students, parents, parents of parents, teachers and faculty of Olin. To my family and my beloved ones. To the family members and friends joining us no matter in person or via online live stream. Thanks for carrying us so far with your support.

First, I want to say thank you to the event coordinators and ushers who planned and prepared everything today. We could not celebrate such a ceremony—which definitely is precious under COVID pandemic—without your help. I used to wake up at night from dreams—I could not make a sound—standing on a stage like this. So, I am very glad that my dream came true today and with a microphone that actually works.

Demonstrating a growth mindset

Personally, I need to appreciate and give credit to Zhenwei Shi, Muran Wu and many incredible people who are more deserved to stand here than I am. But they gave the opportunity to me. I love the fellas I met at Olin. Some are mighty and self-opinionated. Some are shy and self-contained. But what’s in common is none of us ever chose to give up under pressure. We all demonstrated a strong, growth mindset, which is exactly why we are all sitting here today. So, first, I invite my SMP and MBA graduates to give a round of applause for ourselves. To the resilience we showed and to our conquest of this challenge. Well done!

Last year, we came here with anticipation. Now it is the time for us to carry on and depart again. Graduate school is so different from college. If undergrad is where we learn how to learn, grad school is a rapid spinning machine that makes you harvest the best skills needed. Speaking of gains, the journey at Olin is never a smooth path, which is good. You would not actually learn something useful from an easy-A class.

Our multi-tasking and time management abilities were tested as we needed to equip ourselves with the finance bible and search for future careers at the same time. The faculty at Olin is so amazing that they cultivated us and left a lifelong, permanent mark on each of us—just like the barbecued ribs from Pappy’s smokehouse that I will miss every day.

‘Tell me a story’

On the first day, we ran into the classroom of Professor Richard Frankel. One takeaway I still remember was him saying: “Don’t talk about numbers. Tell me a story.” There is where we started crafting the analytics with both quantitative science and qualitative fine arts.

To change the world for good. We may need more than this. I was lucky enough to team up with MBA students in some project groups. One thing I think MBA students typically do better than us—they have a better understanding of teamwork spirit. With my friend Ben Gialenios, I learned that oftentimes, the most important thing is not to distinguish between who is more right or wrong but to empower the group, to move forward, together as a whole.

This is an impatient era. Born in the late ’90s, we are also the generation of impatient and superficial. Young adults like us are often so eager for the instant benefits that if you recommend a book—without telling what you will learn after reading it—people just won’t read it. We are often too myopic to see what the long-term return is and too rushed because we are afraid of getting left behind. Thinking that we would get rewarded immediately after the mission was complete. Just like reaching 93% overall would get us an A for the class. But such a measure is not good enough for real life.

Find your edge

Of course, as business school students, we must be sensitive to the investment and return. But the wolf who can escape from the hunter’s trap is often the one that tried something different rather than being a blind follower. So why not pause for a moment, meditating on what makes you more irreplaceable and where your edge really is? Prioritize with the edge and be the change you want to see.

Admittedly, sometimes we must prove our worth to others—maybe in an interview with a 10-year HR head. You want to show your potential as quickly as possible. But my friends, trust me. No matter how knowledgeable he is or how many candidates he has seen, he doesn’t understand you like you do. My friends, we have climbed to the mountain high, and we have also fallen to the bottom deep.

You know better than anyone where you truly are. Challenge itself is not a bad thing, but the time and vitality wasted on fearing it is. I wish we all encounter our own adventure, embrace it, and see ourselves more clearly from that. You will be proud of your findings on what you are really excited to conquer, just like I am so proud of each of you guys. Congratulations, Olin class of 2022, and to the future we are destined to hold our heads high! Thank you!

Pictured above: Charlie Xu, MSF ’22, student speaker at the May 20, 2022, grad programs graduation recognition ceremony.

In March, Chinese students gathered in Beijing and Shanghai for two weeklong residency programs. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the residencies were the first time many of the students met in person.

Members of the Weston Career Center team in both the US and China designed the programs, and undergraduate, MBA and specialized masters students attended.

Each day’s activities centered on one of Olin’s pillars of excellence: values-based, data-driven decision making; global experiences; entrepreneurial spirit; and experiential learning. The week culminated with an experiential learning project to solve a real-world business problem for the athletic footwear company New Balance.

Throughout the week, students interacted with classmates, engaged with alumni, listened to industry leaders and met with their career coaches.

The human connection

The opportunity to meet her peers face to face stood out to Ruxin (Andrea) Zeng, MSBA ’22. She’d met her cohort through Zoom, but the residency gave her opportunities to interact with her peers in a casual environment.

Learning from industry leaders

Wenxin (Hugo) Xue, MSCA ’22, enjoyed the opportunity to listen to industry leaders. As a business analytics student, he was excited to learn more about the future of big data and how it could affect his career.

Endless opportunities in business

Similarly, Yang Shen, MSBA ’22, found it helpful to learn more about different opportunities in business, whether he networked with employers or listened to various distinguished alumni.

The WCC team planned excursions for students to enjoy during breaks from their coursework. The Beijing students took a day trip to the Great Wall of China, while the Shanghai students took a night cruise down the Huangpu River.

The third horizon for business school education draws nearer today as WashU Olin begins to accept applications for our first fully online graduate degree and certificate programs—conceived and built for delivery in a digital world.

I’ve written before about my vision for the future of business school, with the third horizon representing how we adapt by creating new and innovative ways to reach students.

My past references to the three horizons, however, have been in the context of adapting to a post-pandemic world. Ironically, our new online specialized masters degree programs were not brought about by the pandemic that has wreaked havoc around the world.

Indeed, they were briefly paused by it, but ultimately to the benefit of the new programs: Entering the online education space is another initiative we are fulfilling as part of our strategic plan, and this has certainly been more richly informed by our experiences over the past year.

With these new online masters programs for working professionals, Olin adds to our impressive portfolio of degree opportunities for students.

Flexibility and excellence

This initiative expands our offerings to a growing segment of the population—those people across the country and beyond who want a first-rate, flexible education as they simultaneously continue in their careers and undertake graduate studies.

For our first foray into online education—but certainly not our last—we offer degrees and certificates in business analytics, finance and accounting. Designed for busy professionals, these programs will have the same high academic standards and learning outcomes as our on-campus program, taught by our experienced, accomplished faculty.

Our strong lineup of online offerings includes the Master of Science in Business Analytics (with three areas of interest: customer, fintech, accounting); the Master of Science in Finance; and the Master of Accounting.

The 24-month programs will have September and May intakes and are divided into three eight-month segments, with each segment delivering a unique credential—graduate certificate, advanced graduate certificate and degree. This allows these professional students to build their resumes during their studies, giving them the opportunity to grow in their careers while they pursue their degrees.

Building on a strong foundation

We are confident these new online programs will deliver a best-in-class learning experience for students, thanks to the investment we’ve made in Olin’s innovative Center for Digital Education.

The CDE is staffed with multimedia producers and editors who work alongside curriculum specialists with expertise in developing coursework for digital platforms. Together, the whole team collaborates with Olin’s world-class faculty to adapt and customize course materials for our digital platform.

And that platform is learn.WashU, our next-generation learning management system—built and customized by the CDE exclusively for WashU students, who will use the platform to stay connected to their coursework, their professors and their classmates.

As I mentioned earlier, these new online programs were always part of Olin’s plan. That’s why we originally invested in the Center for Digital Education, which officially opened in October 2019—about five months before the pandemic burst into our lives.

That fortuitous timing served our community well as our CDE colleagues helped us pivot into virtual learning in the midst of a crisis. I’ve called that the first horizon in our transition to the new world of business education. We took that experience and upped our game with hybrid courses and online-only courses in the 2020–21 academic year—the second horizon.

More than virtual classrooms

And although they were planned before the pandemic, these new online programs represent a small component of that third horizon as we build on what the CDE already knew by applying the experience we gained since March 2020.

Meanwhile, the student experience in these new programs does not end with the virtual classroom. Students in the online programs will also have access to academic services through Olin’s Graduate Programs office and career resources and services through the Weston Career Center.

Online students will receive the same level of service as on-campus students, including a dedicated online academic advisor, tutoring and cocurricular programming. As students pursue their degrees, career coaches and industry specialists will work with them to support their career goals.

To be clear, these new programs do not represent the arrival of the third horizon I so often speak of, but another step in that direction. The entire Olin team—faculty and staff together—have worked together admirably to conceive and launch these new programs, and I am excited by these additions to Olin’s highly ranked portfolio.