Tag: Undergraduate

Last month, the Impact Investing Symposium returned to Olin. In it’s second year, the Symposium brought together professionals in finance, foundations, social justice, and government to discuss the potential for impact investing in St. Louis. What a turnout: 180 attendees across industries and experience of impact investing.

The afternoon began with a keynote interview with Nicole Hudson, exploring the work of the Ferguson Commission and what types of projects are ripe for investment in St. Louis. The Ferguson Commission was crucial in advancing a community understanding, response, action plan and forward steps after the shooting of Michael Brown in North St. Louis. Like all community action, the initiative needed tangible measures for impact as well as buy-in from an entire community, across backgrounds and city/county lines.

The necessity for common language and common ground is paramount for impact investing: we need voices of the under-served, perspectives of the financiers, and mediators who can find the common goals. That’s what makes the Impact Investing Symposium unique. It’s a rarity to get folks of these industries in the same room, having a conversation, exchanging dialogue, looking forward.

This year’s panel expanded on a discussion of last year: why impact investing is imminent. Mike Eggleston shared community survey results from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis while David Desai-Ramirez articulated ways for individuals and institutions to take direct action in impact investing: speak with a conduit social enterprise like IFF or Justine PETERSEN. Symposium veteran Tim Coffin shared the traditional finance mechanisms in place for investing with impact and Heather Cameron contributed macro level understandings of community impact. Jake Barnett, mediator, delivered a final parting challenge: “integrity is the proximity of one’s values to their actions.”

The conversation on changing mindsets and redefining “return” will continue – but the Symposium is ready for it’s next iteration: what are actionable steps? How can Olin be at the forefront of impact investing? Where should St. Louis focus it’s resources, intellect, and innovation?

We left the Symposium with the following directive: what projects can we support as individuals, investors, and community members? Have ideas? Be in touch – we’re ready to move forward: impactinvest@wustl.edu.

The Impact Investing Symposium was founded, organized and implemented by socially-minded Olin MBA students. We intend to keep this mission alive at Olin: bridging finance and social impact. To support this initiative or make further inquiry regarding potential future sponsorship, please contact impactinvest@wustl.edu. This event was sponsored by U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation and hosted by Net Impact, the Weston Career Center, and Olin Business School.

Larry Thomas, BSBA’77, came to WashU to study science. But discovered he was really attracted to the business school. He switched his major and a summer internship opened doors to a life-long career with Edward Jones. Thomas reflects on his student days and the growth of the business school in this Centennial series video. Larry Thomas is a member of the Olin National Council and a generous supporter of scholarships at Olin.

Learn more about Olin’s history and share your memories on the Olin100 website.

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When Marketplace asked Patrick Rishe about the potential of advertising brand-fatigue among NBA sports fans, Olin’s director of the sports business program, said, “No.”

Even with the NBA Developmental League re-branding next season as the “G” League after Gatorade bought the naming rights?

Even after the NBA lets teams sell advertising space on the upper-left corner of player’s jerseys next season?

“Rishe… doesn’t think people are going to tire of branding anytime soon,”according to the Marketplace story. “I am not concerned about the over saturation,” he said. “And I think though some purists may say that they are, let’s see how they feel two or three years from now. I doubt they’ll raise a fuss then. The sports consumer will adapt.”

Link to Marketplace story.


Sandy Jurgenson, BSBA’81, remembers seeing Simon Hall at Olin Business School for the first time. She, like so many alumni, had attended classes in the crowded, awkward floor plan of Prince Hall that had been originally designed as men’s dorm in 1904. Simon Hall was a state-of-the-art, high tech building when it opened in 1986 and awed returning alumni with its spacious hallways and classrooms. Watch Sandy’s Olin100 video above.

Sandy’s father, Joe Evans, was an administrator at Washington University and her world has revolved around the university for most of her life.


At left, a souvenir from 2011:

Dean Gupta chats with Joe Evans (middle), Olin alumnus and former vice chancellor for university business; Evans’ daughter, Sandy Jurgenson (right), senior associate director of development for Olin; and Jurgenson’s son Drew during the 17th annual Olin Thanksgiving Feast Nov. 24 in the Knight Center.  – from The Record, December 2011

Share your business school memories on the Centennial website, Olin100, or use #Olin100 on social media.

CATEGORY: Student Life

The Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) Analytics Conference brings together the top minds in the baseball analytics community to discuss, debate and share insightful ways to analyze and examine the game of baseball. The Washington University Sports Analytics Club made it a priority this year to attend the conference. Now is in its third year of existence, the club wanted to allow members to learn from professionals in the field and increase networking opportunities at the SABR Analytics Conference.

Events-Analytics-2016-new-borderNot only did we – Tyler Brandt, Kenny Dorian, Brent Katlan, Ben Rosenkranz, and Brody Roush – attend the conference, but we also competed in the Diamond Dollars Case Competition that invites students from across the country to analyze and present a real baseball operations decision. We ended up winning our undergraduate division, and learned a lot from our own experience presenting, watching other teams present, and listening to expert panels talk about analytics in baseball.

The case itself was on pitch tunneling. We were handed a data set that was just recently unveiled by Baseball Prospectus, and asked to use that data to “develop insights into how this information can enable a MLB team to gain a competitive advantage on the field.” Our specific case looked at the ball in play effects of pitch tunneling. If you want to know more about how pitch tunneling affects groundball rates, pull rates, or the value of certain fielders, come find one of us. What follows here is a recap of some of what we learned.

Lessons from the Case Competition

SABR competition

The WashU Sports Analytics Club team included: Tyler Brandt, Brent Katlan, Kenneth Dorian, Brody Roush, and Ben Rosenkranz, pictured with Vince Gennaro, developer of the case and author of Diamond Dollars: The Economics of Winning in Baseball, and consultant to MLB teams.

In reality, the simple things helped us the most. We knew that MLB analysts were going to be the judges, and knowing our audience helped a lot. The judges were well aware of what pitch tunneling was, but the teams were split about 50/50 on which ones defined terms regarding pitch tunneling and which ones did not. Our decision not to define terms like the tunnel differential (see the link above) gave us an extra 7-8 minutes to get into our process and results. That extra time gave the judges a much clearer idea of how we came to our evaluation of how pitch tunneling can help a Major League Baseball team.

Additionally, just attaching values to our insights played a major role in our presentation. In baseball, each value must somehow be connected to the number of wins a team can get. Nevertheless, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in a situation where you just can’t get to a number that can be translated into wins. One common denominator among the winning teams at the competition was that they found a way to value their projects in terms of the one thing that baseball teams really care about: wins.

Lessons From the Conference

Players Don’t See the Same Things that the Front Office Does
One of the common refrains that we kept hearing was that using the insights gained from analytical work can be very difficult, because of the disconnect between players and analysts. Analysts try to break things down in terms of data and numbers, while players are trying to think through an actual game and see how that would affect the individual players. Many people brought up the idea that the front office and the players are “speaking two different languages.” What became clear to us is that the team that can communicate the results of new studies to its players better will have a sizeable advantage on the field, at least until others catch on.

New Developments in Baseball Analytics
There were a couple of interesting new developments that are worth sharing. The one that will affect fans the most is Statcast’s new catch probability. For fly balls, they can now tell how likely a ball is to be caught by the average fielder given flight time and distance from the nearest fielder. When you watch games this year, you might see those numbers on your TV screen, in addition to a rating that tells you the difficulty of each catch. Some other highlights include: the Mariners employ mental experts at all levels of the minors to help their prospects develop the toughness needed to succeed in the majors, Bill James implored us to think on a more macro level about where we need more insights in baseball, and Tom Tango* revealed himself!

*Tom Tango is the Senior Data Architect, Stats at MLB Advanced Media and is the co-author of The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball. He also developed the Tangotiger.com website, where fans and analysts will find a large number of research pieces devoted to sabermetrics. Tom has previously worked as a consultant for major-league teams in baseball and hockey.

Guest Blogger: Tyler Brandt, A&S ’19

Photos from SABR Flickr page.

CATEGORY: News, Student Life