Tag: Specialized Masters



Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick

Rik Nemanick, a Washington University adjunct instructor, wrote this for the Olin Blog. He is the author of The Mentor’s Way: Eight Rules for Bringing Out the Best in Others and is leading an upcoming daylong workshop on mentoring and leader development at Olin. This is the third in a series of Olin Blog posts on mentoring. Check out part one and part two if you missed them.

This blog post concludes my discussion about mentoring as a vehicle to extend and enhance learning. The series of posts is based on interviews with seven alumni from the School of Engineering and Olin Business School who have been mentors for students at Washington University. In my prior blog posts on mentoring, I brought together their ideas to build a definition of what a mentor was and explored what mentors do to help bring out the best in others.

In this post, I wanted to know what they suggest people do to get the most out of having a mentor.

It is important for protégés to feel empowered to “take the lead” with their mentors. Recognize that leaders around you are willing to help. “Don’t hesitate to reach out to people,” said Dante Cannarozzi, BSAS ‘01/MSCS ‘03. “I think you’ll discover most people are very receptive to being asked for advice.”

Sally Roth, EMBA ‘95, added to that advice, encouraging protégés to “be prepared to own the relationship. That is, it is incumbent upon the protégé, not the mentor, to build and maintain a trusting relationship.”

Mike Ferman, BSBA ’68, suggested protégés “set expectations with your mentor upfront. Identify how you should both communicate with each other and how frequently. Do not expect them to do things for you.” Haroon Taqi, BSCS ’90/MSCS ’95, encouraged protégés to “reach out to them and follow through to make sure that the meetings happened.”

Of course, you should also “know what you want to optimize” about yourself, observed Mark Pydynowski, BSBA ’04. He added that “the best mentors have expensive time; do not waste it by being unprepared.” That is why it is important for protégés to “chart a course” for their development journey. Think about where you see yourself in three years and get your mentor’s help in identifying what you want to learn or improve to get there.

Once you figure out what you want to learn, it helps to “open your mind” to learning. David Murphy, EMBA ’18, said that “you need to listen for your internal biases and turn them off. You’re actively seeking out growth, which may require you to learn to identify and focus on your weaknesses.”

Ferman added that protégés need to be “open to change and listening to new ideas. Being open and transparent with them about your goals and objectives, and my fears and concerns.” Finally, to truly grow and learn when working with a mentor, it helps to “stretch yourself” and take some risks. Murphy suggested that “getting out of your comfort zone and out of your own way are crucial steps in true growth.”

One thing to make sure you do is thank your mentors and let them know the impact they had on you. Taqi said that “in the end, I made sure I thanked them for their time.” Mentoring is a gift that you cannot repay. What you can do is make sure that the time the mentor invested in you made a difference. And, you can look for someone you can mentor and “pay it forward.”

“Mentorship & Leader Development,” a workshop presented by Olin Business School Executive Education, will be Nov. 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Get more details and register. Nemanick is author of The Mentor’s Way.




Former WashU Olin Business School Dean Robert Virgil was honored as an “ageless, remarkable St. Louisan” by a prominent local nonprofit dedicated to improving living conditions for at-risk seniors.

Virgil, who was Olin’s dean from 1977 to 1993, is part of a class of 14 so-honored this year by the St. Andrew’s Charitable Foundation. The organization recognizes a new class each year of individuals 75 years old and up “who are actively making a tremendous impact in St. Louis through philanthropy, volunteerism, and leadership. These awe-inspiring individuals are proof positive that, at any age, we can make a difference in our community and the lives of others.”

Virgil was recognized with the other honorees at a gala on October 20 at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, hosted by St. Louis Public Radio’s Don Marsh. This is what the organization had to say in its write-up about 84-year-old Dean Virgil.

Bob likes to say that he has had careers with two of the world’s finest institutions, Washington University and Edward Jones. At Washington University beginning in 1960, he taught accounting to hundreds of students and from 1977-1993, was dean of the John M. Olin School of Business.

He has had numerous other roles in the university, including chairing the highly successful scholarship segment of the recently completed Leading Together campaign.

In 1993, Bob joined Edward Jones where he had responsibility for management development and was a member of the firm’s management committee. He retired as a general partner in 2007.

Bob has been involved actively with several organizations in the St. Louis community. Among them are Girls, Inc. of St. Louis, the Magic House, City Academy, Harris Stowe State University, and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Gerry and Bob enjoy four grown children, 12 grandchildren, and their pup, Maisie.

The 2018 class of “ageless, remarkable St. Louisans” also includes: Jorge M. Alegre, M.D.; Margaret (Marge) Aylward; Mariann Laue Baker; Shirley and Charles Drury, Sr.; Paul J. Gallant; Dr. Ron Gregory; Carol Powell; Jay C. Rickmeyer; Harvey G. Schneider; Mary Ann and Richard Shaw; and Ted C. Vargas, M.D.




Pictured with their medals from the Teradata Analytics Competition: Di Ai; Songyi Wang; Ariel Tien; Eileen Liu; Olin faculty advisor Yulia Nevskaya; and Ziwei Lu.

Teradata competition trophy.A team of five students in Olin’s business analytics program prevailed over 44 other teams and took first place in a global competition this week with a project that provided the National Multiple Sclerosis Society with invaluable insight about its annual fundraising bike race.

Di Ai, Eileen Liu, Ziwei Lu, Ariel Tien, and Songyi Wang—all MSCA ’18—learned this week they had won the Teradata Data Challenge in the midst of the massive Teradata Corporation industry conference in Las Vegas, which ends today.

“I am passionate about using and decoding data to do something good, and I feel honored that the analyses we’ve done for Bike MS have been recognized as the best,” said Ariel Tien, the team’s leader. “This award has definitely entrusted us with the responsibility of encouraging more students at the school to participate in these kind of competitions, which can bring a positive change to society.”

The months-long process, which took the students more than 500 hours of work, began in early spring with an analysis of the NMSS’s data and a submitted PowerPoint presentation and written report in April. From there, industry experts, data scientists, and business executives served as judges, whittling down the submissions to five finalists, who were given the opportunity to give a six-minute presentation about their findings to judges in Las Vegas.

Competitors all faced the same problem: NMSS holds Bike MS charity races. The organization was concerned about falling participation, acquisition of new participants, and donation amounts. Students were asked to offer insights from the NMSS data and recommend ways to address the trend.

Olin students developed a machine-learning predictive model that identified when a particular Bike MS team captain was about to roll out of the program, causing churn; they also used clustering analysis to re-segment the hosting cities into new tiers with recommended strategies for each tier.

“The students argued—using data—that it’s cheaper to invest in retaining a captain than in acquiring new participants for the race to replace the lost captain,” said Yulia Nevskaya, assistant professor of marketing and the team’s faculty advisor.

Teradata, the largest data warehousing company in the world, holds a board seat at Olin’s Center for Analytics and Business Insights.

“It is great to see our MSCA students showcasing their skills at such a highly-attended industry conference and building our school’s reputation,” said Seethu Seetharaman, director of the CABI and faculty director of the specialized master’s in business analytics program.

WATCH: WashU Olin’s team announced as the winner

Pictured above with their medals from the Teradata Data Challenge: Di Ai; Songyi Wang; Ariel Tien; Eileen Liu; Olin faculty advisor Yulia Nevskaya; and Ziwei Lu.




Front row from left: David Heniford, Matilda Thomas, Stefan Yu. Back row: Timothy Solberg, Lewis Luo, Dr. Lin Gu.

A team of Olin MBA and master of finance students has won a $10,000 grant toward work on a business plan for a trauma hospital in Haiti. The grant was one of 100 such gifts nationally from TIAA, which awards the grants to worthy university groups doing nonprofit work.

Led by Olin’s Timothy Solberg, professor of practice in finance and board director of Project Medishare for Haiti, the five students include Dr. Lin Gu, MBA ’19, a Chinese emergency room doctor; Nigerian architect Matilda Thomas, MBA ’19; and Davis Heniford, Stefan Yu, and team leader Lewis Luo, all MSFQ ’18.

“Being from a developing country myself, I understand the challenges that come with starting up an organization of such scale and impact in a so-often hostile environment,” Thomas said. “I am able to leverage such knowledge, and through empathy, make recommendations that, hopefully, would be to the greatest good of the Haitian people.”

The students’ practicum project in Haiti is operated under Olin’s Wells Fargo Advisors Center for Finance and Accounting Research. The TIAA grant will cover the cost of creating a business plan for a national trauma and critical care hospital and health system in Haiti, which would replace infrastructure destroyed in Haiti’s January 2010 earthquake.

“I am very excited an Olin team is working to bring the trauma hospital and health system plan over the finish line,” Solberg said. “By completing this plan, WashU Olin’s team of five students is truly going to make a difference to the healthcare of 11 million people without a trauma system.”

TIAA made the announcement on October 2 as part of its total $1 million grant to 100 individuals who are “making a difference and (to) help them continue the impactful work they’re doing.”

“I am greatly inspired by the ambition and passion of the healthcare professionals and business tycoons committed to transform the world,” Gu said.

Twelve acres of land in Port au Prince, already in the process of being cleared and prepared, was donated by the local business community, and the Haitian government has put $5 million into a building escrow account.

“Project Medishare has allowed me to use my finance background in a way that is both novel and contributes to something much larger,” Heniford said. The students’ business plan will release funding with a $7 million grant from a philanthropist who requires an economically sustainable business plan as a next step.

“Our business plan is the key to unlock millions of dollars of donor funds to rebuild the only trauma and critical care hospital in Haiti,” Yu said. “It is special to be able to apply financial knowledge with such a clear humanitarian focus, and it has inspired me to seek other career opportunities in promoting social welfare through finance.”

The student team is working closely with Dr. Barth A. Green, Project Medishare president and founder; Harold Marzouka Jr., chairman of its Haitian board; Dr. Elizabeth Greig, executive committee member; Renee Lewis, executive director; and Joe Cornely of Norwegian Cruise Lines.

“I am glad and appreciate the chance to lead the WashU Project Medishare for Haiti team organized by CFAR that allows students like me to work with a group of amazing talents and leverage my skills to help millions of Haitians in need and make some real-world impacts,” Luo said.




Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library in Simon Hall on October 12.

Former Dean Stuart Greenbaum offers his tribute to Ron Allen
during a retirement reception at Kopolow Library
in Simon Hall on October 12.

When Ron Allen first arrived on WashU’s campus for a new job as business school librarian, there wasn’t one—at least, not one adequate to serve a world-class business school.

In 1986, Robert Virgil was dean, on a mission to raise Olin Business School’s profile among global business schools. Simon Hall was under construction and a new, state-of-the-art business library was part of the plan to help propel Olin to new heights. Allen was to be the first to build the library from a tiny nook and to hold an endowed directorship for the position as the Asa F. Seay Librarian.

“There was a sense of starting from nothing and growing this library into a first-rate service for faculty and students,” Allen recalled on October 5, on the occasion of his retirement from WashU, 33 years after his arrival. The New York City native—who confessed that “I don’t know if I could have identified St. Louis on a map”—spent three decades building, defending, and morphing the library through changes in leadership and technology.

“He was a change agent like nobody else over the course of his career,” said Ron King, Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, in his tribute remarks. “The heart of the school was the library.”

At an event in the ornate reading room at the Al and Ruth Kopolow Business Library, three former deans and Todd Milbourn, vice dean and Hubert C. and Dorothy R. Moog Professor of Finance, shared their recollections of Allen’s career and contributions.

Milbourn recalled how Allen “got me wired in” as a brand new faculty member in the business school when he arrived, describing Allen as a partner in research who would find and help faculty exploit new data sets for their work.

Former deans Stuart Greenbaum and Mahendra Gupta recalled occasions when they tried to commandeer space from the library to accommodate expanding programs at Olin—attempts Allen rebuffed every time.

“You fell in love with the place when you walked into Kopolow,” Greenbaum said, crediting Allen with the environment he’d created. Gupta built on that remark, calling the library “the intellectual future of the school.”

When Allen came to WashU to run the business library, it was a standalone entity. It’s since been absorbed as part of the WashU library system. He said he’s come to terms with the idea of retirement and is looking forward to downsizing from a house to a Central West End apartment and his Florida condo.

“His handprint is all over this library and the way it was shaped and developed,” said former Dean Robert Virgil. “It was why our students wanted to stay here and study here.”




Dean Taylor with Dean Colangelo and a selection of his works that will appear in various parts of Olin Business School.

Few figures in science have pierced the popular imagination or made more fundamental scientific contributions like renowned theoretical physicist Albert Einstein. He wrangled with complex data about the construction of the universe and yielded mathematical models depicting its function. Yet he was also a musician, an artist and a lover of dance.

“The true sign of intelligence,” he once said, “is not knowledge, but imagination.”

At the business school, as part of a great university, we are in the knowledge business. We create it, we transmit it, we leverage it with our community partners. And I’d like to think we’re continuing to create a workplace that sparks the imagination of our colleagues.

Complementing the inspiring architecture of Olin Business School, we’ve begun to introduce new images to adorn its walls. I wanted to share a little about these works and the people behind them.

Thames and Bens II 2018 by Ann Wimsatt

They include the works of Ann Wimsatt, a St. Louis-based artist whose work I encountered at an exhibition soon after arriving at Olin. Her work now lines parts of the fourth and fifth floors of Knight Hall and Bauer Hall, as well as parts of the second floor in Simon Hall.

In Ann Wimsatt’s work, I was struck by three things. First, her images are extremely international, depicting significant architectural landmarks in locations such as Mumbai, Barcelona, London, Siena, Hong Kong and more—as well as St. Louis. Second, they are subjective interpretations of the buildings and landmarks they depict. And third, they are vibrant splashes of color that turn a corridor into an artist’s palette as we walk along, before stopping to look at the details of any particular one.

“Sometimes the most glorious endeavors of a civilization are what they create in their cities,” said Wimsatt, who is also an architect. “I’m quite interested not only in what meaning and importance they might have to me as I paint them, but also, as I manipulate them digitally, what kind of meaning I can draw out of them.”

G.R. (GRE.EK) 2011 by Carmon Colangelo

Olin visitors will also notice a new series of works by my friend and colleague Carmon Colangelo, the Ralph J. Nagel Dean of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. Carmon graciously showed me around and introduced me to the art scene in St. Louis soon after my arrival and we spent a lot of time discussing art in his studio and in galleries around the area.

Several of Dean Colangelo’s works hang in and immediately outside my office—and there will soon be several new ones displayed prominently in the Kiefer Foyer in Simon Hall. Those closer to my office tend toward the symmetrical and orderly, but the farther from my office they get, the more the works take on their own character and depart in subtle but significant ways from the central works. I view it as something of a metaphor for the academic freedom we enjoy on the WashU campus.

“I made a new series that was inspired by the concepts in the first versions of the stretched colorfield images,” Colangelo said. “I like the analogy Dean Taylor has made about innovation and faculty research responding with more radical variations on this theme.”

Our very existence as a highly ranked business school depends on the ways we foster collaboration and imagination in the service of the knowledge we create. How do we infuse creativity into a business school? Perhaps by osmosis? I’m rather hopeful that we’ll see our students, visitors and faculty members take time to pause and appreciate the new works adorning the halls and to become inspired by their environment.

Pictured above: Dean Taylor with Dean Colangelo and a selection of his works that will appear in various parts of Olin Business School.