Tag: Undergraduate

Anika Sridhar, BSBA 2023

Anika Sridhar, BSBA 2023, was the student speaker at the undergraduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 14, 2023, selected by her peers. She soon begins a new position as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Here is what she had to say to her fellow graduates.

What exactly does it mean to change the world? As students of business, many of us hope to have a great societal and economic impact. I myself will be leaving Olin emboldened by the privilege of my education and optimistic about the prospect of effecting change.

But what does change really look like? Well, two years ago, I never would have imagined a world in which 1,000-plus people would congregate to celebrate university graduation. And I could not be more honored to stand up here today, addressing you all. And a special thank you to the mothers in the audience, who have so graciously decided to spend their Mother’s Day here with us.

To the Olin Class of 2023, a big congratulations is due. We remained resilient amidst a global pandemic and continued to believe that one day we would get to walk this stage.

We are the final group that knows the “old WashU.” No class below us will understand when we reminisce over the Einstein’s Bagels in Simon Hall, the Ibby’s buffet during the week, the bird scooter crisis or the typical Thursday night going out to Big Daddy’s on the landing.

To all future generations of WashU graduates, these treasured moments are merely myths of the past.

Our campus has changed over time to reflect new versions of our community and society. However, it feels necessary to understand not only how the evolving needs of our society have impacted our campus but moreover how four years at this institution have transformed who we are.

When I came to WashU, I thought I knew exactly how to be a successful college student. All I had to do was follow in the path of high-school Anika! What did this mean? Develop my academic career around political science, join an a capella group, and make best friends during the first week of school, exactly as I had done in high school.

Well … by the end of my first year, I had been rejected from the a capella groups, had withdrawn from my first upper-level political science class, and felt as though I hadn’t yet found a group of friends I really belonged to. If high school Anika was the model for success, I was screwed.

It was, instead, the newness that I embraced which has most greatly impacted my college experience. I joined a few business organizations, not having a clue what I was signing up for or why I was doing it. Funny enough, that decision led me to meet my best friends, develop lifelong mentors, discover a passion for business, and eventually, during my fourth semester of college, become a student of the Olin Business School. And I can confidently say the skills I’ve developed in Olin will enable me to have a greater impact on whatever I choose to do in my future.

As we all begin to embark on new journeys, we should remember to think critically about every decision we make. Don’t conform to a version of yourself you once idealized but have ultimately outgrown. It is OK to embrace change, and changing the world may just start with embracing change in your own world.

As Albert Einstein famously said, “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”

However, while the past need not always define our present, we cannot forget those who helped us get where we are today.

To my family who encouraged me to believe in myself and explore new passions, thank you. To my friends who sat and cried with me through heartbreaks and disappointments and celebrated me during my greatest achievements, thank you.

To the Olin Class of 2023, who have challenged me to work harder in class, who have inspired me through creative approaches to problem-solving, and who also did not study enough for the MGT 100 exams and helped set a good curve, thank you.

As we go on to accomplish all the wonderful things this institution has enabled us to do, we must continue to support and uplift one another personally and professionally. When we hear that a member of the Olin community is seeking support, let’s make each other a priority because, truly, you have all changed the world for me.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023 and thank you!

Pictured at top: The Olin Cup winning teams—Find It, left, and Papertrail, right—wrestle over the prize after tying in the competition on April 18.

Forty-two judges joined WashU Olin’s entrepreneurship team in celebrating student innovation on April 18 as eight finalists made startup pitches resulting in a first-place tie for the Olin Cup—a first in recent memory.

Meanwhile, more than 90 other teams competed for a piece of a $15,000 prize pool in Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce competition with pitches based on business ideas generated in the Hatchery program. The Olin entrepreneurship program attracted 55 judges to participate in that competition.

In the Olin Cup competition, eight finalists pitched and two emerged on top: PaperTrail (a car enthusiast record platform) and Find It (a platform to restore lost items to their owners using decorative QR code stickers).

Camille Devaney, BSBA 2025; Ethan Weilheimer, BS/EN 2025; Justin Moreno, BSBA 2023; and Maggie Croghan, BSBA 2023, were the team behind Find It. Meanwhile, the other Olin Cup-winning team included Kuo Wang, BS/EN/Master of engineering; Christian Robinson, BSBA 2026; Drew Kassman, business minor 2025; Andrew Padousis, BSBA 2025; and Jimmy Lancaster, BSBA/EN 2025, the team behind PaperTrail.

The two teams shared custody of the large Olin Cup trophy.

Winners were also named for undergraduate and graduate school teams in Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce competition. These teams competed for a share of the $15,000 prize pool.

The undergraduate team winner was ACHORD, a platform matching students to music
teachers based on connection factors. The grad team winner was Say, Hi!, an online platform
that connects people experiencing mental distress to licensed social workers, psychologists and
counselors around the world. Both teams won $3,000.

Second-prize entries won $1,250, third-prize entries received $750 and 10 runners-up got $500.

Pictured at top: The Olin Cup winning teams—Find It, left, and PaperTrail, right—wrestle over the prize after tying in the competition on April 18.

Drake Shafer, BSBA 2023, grew up in Glasford, population 834, near Peoria, Illinois, and attended high school with 50 graduating seniors. With his mom’s encouragement, he became the first in his family to go to college and the first student from his high school in generations to attend a top-20 university.

“Something felt different when I toured WashU,” said Shafer, who visited more than a dozen campuses. “Instead of trying to see myself fitting into the campus and student life, I immediately felt at home.”

Shafer enrolled at Olin School of Business, but he felt behind as soon as he started. Some classmates had business experience, and some had parents with successful business careers. Fortunately, he said, “many of the professors in the Olin Business School that I’ve had aim to help every student succeed academically and professionally, no matter their background.”

Scholarship support made it possible for Shafer to attend the university. It “has given me the opportunity to solely focus on my education and the experience of being a learner, something I’ll never find the words to completely express my gratitude for,” he said. “More privileged and higher-income students can’t begin to think about the implications and struggles that come along with being from a lower-income background.”

Last fall, the university launched Make Way: Our Student Initiative, a fundraising effort to increase financial resources for undergraduate scholarships, graduates scholarships and fellowships, and a best-in-class student experience. Through Make Way, WashU aims to increase access and opportunity for students at every level of need.

A chance to delve into the student experience

In his second year, Shafer was chosen to participate in the inaugural class of the Chancellor’s Career Fellowship program. The program provides career-oriented opportunities for first-year or sophomore students from low-income and first-generation backgrounds. The skills Shafer gained helped him land his first internship, and the university provided a stipend to help offset housing costs during the experience.

Now in his senior year at Olin, Shafer has delved deeply into the student experience. He’s majoring in marketing, operations and supply chain management, and he’s minoring in the business of entertainment. He participated in the student-owned consulting firm Bear Studios. He opened Gallery 314, a retail store on campus. And he completed a global management internship at Anheuser-Busch.

“Thanks to my Olin experience, I now feel just as capable as my classmates to take on a high-caliber career.”

After graduation, Shafer will head to Chicago to join the Kraft Heinz Company’s trainee program.

He said he hopes his collegiate success will lead to a fulfilling career and enable him to give back to those who supported his journey—especially the WashU community and his family.

“WashU has helped me learn how to take on—and succeed in—multiple roles. I’ll keep these experiences with me for the rest of my life.”

Image of Anna Riek, BSBA 2023, who interviewed communications expert and consultant Pellegrino Riccardi.

Anna Riek, BSBA 2023, interviewed Pellegrino Riccardi, a master storyteller, communicator and coach, after she watched his TED Talk as part of a class. She shared the video and wrote this for the Olin Blog.

In my interview, “Authenticity in Business,” communication expert Pellegrino Riccardi and I touched on everything from workplace culture to well-being, ending with Riccardi’s advice for graduating college students.

Bringing your whole self to work every day is a long-term investment in your career and your well-being. If you’re not authentic, your mental health suffers, you feel isolated and lonely, and you quickly face burnout. When we remember that inauthenticity is basically lying, it’s no wonder that it’s unsustainable. Authenticity requires integrity, curiosity and bravery.

The topic of authenticity often comes up in business discussions. Authentic leadership has become almost a buzzword, and consumers increasingly look for companies and products with an authentic feel. I’ve thought a lot about authenticity during my four years at WashU—attending events, reading books, writing articles and even giving guest lectures.

Ultimately, I believe it comes down to communication, the fundamental interaction between two humans and an opportunity for empathy, respect and understanding. Who better to discuss all of this with than internationally acclaimed speaker, author and communication expert, Pellegrino Riccardi?

Based in Norway, Riccardi built his career around helping people communicate more authentically, whether that’s between cultures, in a boardroom or in the classroom. After being introduced to his well-known TEDTalk on cross-cultural communication in a leadership class, I couldn’t contain my enthusiasm and cold emailed him.

To my delight, he responded and we discussed the topics of authenticity and communication. I gained so much from his insight that I wanted to meet again so we could share our conversations. This interview is for you.

As Riccardi would say, make sure your stage self matches your sofa self. Remember, your true self is what you’re good at. Lean into your strengths. Be open to new opportunities. Embrace imperfection. And culture is contagious, so look for organizations in which authenticity is founded on communication and fostered through psychological safety.


Ekin Pellegrini, an Olin adjunct professor who teaches the organizational behavior class Anna took, wrote to the Olin Blog to say she “went to the extra mile” in a class assignment: “I had assigned a TED Talk that all students were required to study prior to class. Anna not only studied it but also reached out the speaker. She convinced him to do an interview! I hope you will find her enthusiasm for learning and her relentless pursuit of taking initiative worth highlighting.”

WashU Olin’s BSBA program ranked ninth in the latest ranking of undergraduate business schools from Poets & Quants, a showing that reflects the increasing competitiveness of the ranking since it debuted with WashU at No. 1 in 2016.

In the 2023 edition of the Poets & Quants ranking, Olin fell five spots from its 2022 ranking, which was released March 1. That showing came in spite of the school garnering an overall score of 95.52—nearly three points higher than last year’s score.

P&Q centers its ranking on three main criteria: the quality of the incoming students, the career outcomes students achieve after graduation and their view of their school’s academic experience. The former two criteria are based on surveys of school data (e.g., acceptance rates, SAT scores, salary averages) completed between June and December. The latter student experience data is based on a survey of graduates from the class of 2020.

Olin remained stable at fourth place in employment results, and rose from 29th to 17th in academic experience, but fell to eighth in the admissions category.