Tag: Specialized Masters



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.




For the first time ever, WashU Olin will welcome new specialized master’s degree students in the spring semester—a manifestation of how the Olin team has met yet another challenge wrought by the pandemic. And with this new intake, my colleagues have gone the extra mile to create important student experiences for those who will attend online.

The story starts well before the fall semester began, when hundreds of international students had hoped to arrive in St. Louis for fall classes. As travel restrictions, quarantines and visa issues barred many students’ arrival, Olin’s team pivoted. We enrolled 306 SMP students in the fall—online and in-person—but allowed hundreds more to defer their admission to the spring, hoping circumstances might change.

Many months later, the virus has not yet relented. Circumstances haven’t changed. But the international students who deferred from the fall still want a WashU Olin experience. I’m pleased to say our faculty, our Weston Career Center and our graduate programs team is prepared to provide that experience to approximately 350 more SMP students who will join us in January.

Faculty have done a tremendous amount of work to add additional course sections and adapt their curricula. They’ve accepted additional teaching loads, catering to students many time zones away in China and other international locations. Faculty members also updated their office hours to accommodate students learning abroad.

“We’re making a special effort to keep class sizes small, using tech to enhance the experience while they’re learning abroad with us,” said Ruthie Pyles, associate dean of graduate enrollment management. “We’re trying to think about providing the intimate classroom experience for them as well as students in the states.”

Gathering students in person—in China

Indeed, as part of that effort, Olin’s team is organizing residencies in Shanghai and Beijing. These weeklong meetups, where travel is again allowed, will assemble the SMP students in China—those who began in the fall and those who begin in spring. They’ll interact with classmates, engage with alumni, participate in our industry speaker series and meet with a career coach. We’re even arranging sightseeing tours.

“This innovation is built on a foundation of the success of supporting students and our connections in China,” said Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center. She is collaborating with Ashley Macrander, associate dean and director of graduate student services, on the programming.

Nine members of Ashley’s team are working with the WCC and partners in China on arrangements for workshops, networking events and sightseeing—along with the considerable logistics involved with moving, housing and feeding the students. The residencies during the spring semester “will create an opportunity for SMP students to build community and participate in professional development,” Ashley said. 

Building on our strategic foundations

And as Jen points out, we’re able to make these extraordinary—and unprecedented—arrangements thanks to earlier work on Olin’s strategic plan. For example, we’ve reorganized and upgraded the WCC in many ways, including the addition of Corporate Relations Manager Di Lu in Shanghai as our eyes and ears on the ground there.

“She is working in China, supporting these efforts, and supporting our students’ career goals,” Jen said. “She is actively hosting employer events and helping students connect with Chinese companies.”

We’ve also expanded our footprint as a global business school through our global MBA, which I’ve written about before and which has given us the contacts and resources in China to create a valuable student experience now for our SMP students. I’ve also discussed how our investment in the Center for Digital Education has prepared us to evolve course delivery and knowledge dissemination for online learning and virtual classrooms.

As I’ve said in this space before, our work is singularly focused on traversing three horizons—the “firefighting” horizon at the outset of the pandemic, the “raise-our-game” horizon as we’ve adapted and the “look to the stars” horizon as we reimagine business education in a dramatically new global environment.

With our new SMP intake in the spring, I believe we find ourselves spanning the second and third horizons as we both raise our game and explore new ways to disseminate knowledge, bestow the accreditation of a WashU Olin degree and preserve the important student experience.




Olin’s Weston Career Center has begun an initiative to identify international job opportunities for Chinese students in its programs—as well as any other students seeking employment in Asia—by expanding the school’s network of communication among Olin alums abroad. The initiative recently garnered accolades from a consortium of universities.

Last month, Olin’s Weston Career Center hosted a virtual event based in China called the Specialized Master’s Program Summit as one of the first steps in this exciting initiative. The summit was the first event of its kind for the Olin community, connecting students and alumni around the world virtually and featuring panels, speakers and direct meetings between students and companies across various industries.

Di Lu, the corporate manager for the Weston Career Center out of Asia, has accepted three American Universities’ China Association (AUCA) awards on behalf of Olin Business School this year, and is a crucial part of Olin’s drive to increase engagement in China.

She was excited about the outcome of Olin’s first virtual SMP Summit and believes that its newly virtual format “helped make [the event] happen,” because it allowed facilitators to connect “more people across more locations.” Thanks to the unifying force of the internet, the SMP Summit featured almost 20 alums located in cities across Asia who were involved in one-on-one networking sessions with students, as well as multiple guest speakers from high-profile companies.

The WCC’s interest in connecting students with alumni in China comes from a pre-existing, strong network across the United States that continues to provide resources for students to build a career domestically. However, according to Lu, many students’ career interests are starting to shift to companies and firms in Asia.

According to Lu, this initiative is a prime example of how the WCC and Olin are “a student-centered school and career center” that are willing to make big commitments in order to serve students’ needs. She also sees it as evidence that Olin is an increasingly “globally minded” school that seeks to provide students with opportunities around the world, while also keeping them connected to resources and opportunities here in St. Louis.

The WCC is also expanding its initiative to provide student resources and alumni networks across China with various programs and events outside of the recent SMP Summit. Lu explained that the center is promoting a joint alumni engagement and corporate partner program to develop relationships between hiring partners, alumni, and current Olin juniors and seniors in cities across China.

The center is putting on four virtual career fairs, more than 20 company information sessions, and a series of industry panels throughout the school year in collaboration with the AUCA.

Lu hopes that this WCC initiative will “help maintain a strong connection between the Olin community and students/alums even after they leave the US.” She believes that events linking Olin’s current students with alums and community members based in Asia will “cultivate the culture of Olin people helping each other,” a culture that is so important to every member of the Washington University community.

For students and alums interested in connecting with industry and community members across China, visit the WCC to take advantage of these exciting new programs.

Pictured above: Di Lu accepts AUCA awards on behalf of WashU Olin.