Tag: Undergraduate



Guest post on behalf of CELect by Tyler King, MBA ’19; Tim Parrington, JD ’19; Samantha Sansone, BSBA ’21; and Wolf Smith, JD ’19. The students in the CELect Entrepreneurship Course, held at the T-REX startup accelerator, are sharing their team projects.

St. Louis-based TopOPPS uses artificial intelligence software to enable clients to increase accuracy and efficiency in sales forecasting and sales pipeline management. Sales teams using TopOPPS-integrated technology can more precisely target their efforts, resulting in more sales wins and faster sales cycles.

Since its founding, TopOPPS has been working with sales organizations to demystify the notoriously unpredictable arena of sales forecasting and help sales teams execute sales periods with more confidence and accuracy. TopOpps engaged WashU’s CELect program to better quantify its success and move forward in the young market space.

As a part of the 2018 fall CELect class, our team is analyzing TopOPPS’ client data to provide specific quantifiable evidence highlighting the increased efficiencies of using the artificial intelligence in sales forecasting and pipeline management.

Our team’s approach analyzes client data from companies in different industries and incorporates a larger market analysis of artificial intelligence sales forecasting software. TopOPPS can then use the analysis to create evidence-based marketing materials of the product’s success and the value proposition for clients.

This CELect project has been a challenging but rewarding experience for each member of the team. Through this unique hands-on project, we have gained valuable insight into the challenges and opportunities inherent in launching a novel startup company into a young marketplace.

We appreciate the opportunity to work with and learn from the experienced executives at TopOPPS. Furthermore, we are grateful to the CELect program and WashU for giving us the opportunity to engage with the fascinating world of startups in the area, and for allowing us to give back to the St. Louis community.

Pictured above, from left: Tim Parrington, Samantha Sansone, Wolf Smith, and Tyler King.




Guest blog post written on behalf of the CELect program by Victoria Gravett, MBA ’19; Paul Tychsen, PMBA ’19; Thomas Rogers, JD ’19; Jack Terschluse, JD ’19; and Jack West, JD ‘19.

St. Louis-based Finlocker is a secure, reusable, financial locker that smoothes the application process for a consumer loan. With the click of a button, the consumer can share their information when they want, with who they want, and for long as they choose.

Instead of the arduous process of a paper application, the consumer can upload and securely submit their documents online, saving time and money for both the bank and the consumer during loan origination.

In addition to helping consumers navigate the loan application process with transparency, security, and speed, Finlocker provides personal financial management tools to help consumers build their financial profile, manage their finances, and plan for the future.

As part of the fall 2018 CELect class, our team of JD and MBA students are collaborating to develop innovative features to improve “stickiness”—increasing consumer usage and further creating clients for life.

After surveying the competitive landscape, the team brainstormed new features to develop and potentially implement. The goal is to provide Finlocker with features that will allow them to take the next step in becoming a financial tool that consumers use daily.

Pictured above: Paul Tychsen, Victoria Gravett, and Jack West working on their project. Thomas Rogers and Jack Terschluse, also in our group, are not pictured.




Staci Thomas is one of the Olin faculty members who has grown accustomed to "flipping the classroom" — assigning "knowledge transfer" to the homework and spending classroom time on interactive projects and engagement.

We live in a world of change and disruption in all spheres of life. In particular, technology has had a largely positive effect on all aspects of our lives—personal and professional. Education is no exception.

While the pace of technological innovation appears to be accelerating, innovation itself is not altogether new. Over the centuries we’ve moved from scrolls to codex books and more recently toward digital reading technology such as the Kindle and the iPad, and most classroom instructors have replaced dusty chalkboards with more modern alternatives.

Yet the standard process of knowledge transfer in universities—the lecture—hasn’t changed much in around the last 1,000 years, since the rise of the university in the early European Renaissance. This is beginning to change around the world—and at Olin, in classrooms run by professors such as Andrew Knight and Staci Thomas, who adapted classes that used to rely on classroom lectures and projects that students worked on outside of class.

“I thought I needed to flip the classroom so the lectures become the homework,” said Staci, a lecturer in communication. “Class becomes more like a workshop. We do presentations or create communications plans collaboratively. I can see it. I can hear it. I can offer suggestions to improve.”

Now, basic knowledge transfer happens outside of class, through short video clips, video conferences and other technological tools. It’s important to note however, that this method of knowledge transfer is a complement to rather than a substitute for face-to-face interaction. First, we use behavioural science to fine tune knowledge transfer outside of class, based on known attention spans and the creative use of mental stimuli through technology.

Then we use the face-to-face classroom experience to assimilate that knowledge, taking it in more deeply and fully understanding its implications and uses in a range of contexts and collaborative situations, using real-time case studies, seminars and group discussions.

Creating tools to encourage change

At Olin Business School we are building a custom-made e-learning platform tailored to the school’s needs. Equipped to give instructors and classmates the tools to collaborate from around the world, it will seamlessly integrate course materials, online learning experiences, recorded materials and innovative assessment, in an online environment which is uniquely Olin.

Two months ago, three new colleagues joined the Olin team and have already spent time engaging business school stakeholders—students, faculty, staff and alumni—about how a new digital learning platform can best serve everyone. Our goal is to launch a world-leading platform by the time the next full-time MBA students begin their new global immersion just seven months from now (check out my earlier blog post for more about the new MBA programme).

“Our eyes lit up when we saw the focus on teamwork in the MBA redesign,” Simon Harper told me. He’s director of platform operations and service for Olin, part of the three-person team of developers, e-learning experts and information design specialists leading the work. “We see that the tools can easily support collaboration across geography.”

Andrew Knight, associate professor of organizational behaviour, is eager to have additional tools to carry on the transition he’s begun to make in his classroom, where he uses 60 to 80 percent of his classroom time with first- and second-year MBAs on interactive teamwork and leadership exercises.

“I try to use the classroom time to practice teamwork and leadership through experiential exercises to get experience and feedback from their peers,” Andrew said. “I’d like to use class time and technology to shift the one-way flow of information from me to multimedia content and use our time in the classroom in a 100 percent interactive fashion.”

Integrating students, alumni, staff, faculty

What we’re doing at Olin is exciting, but I want to be candid as well: It’s not the first time I’ve been involved with such an effort. It wouldn’t take much sleuthing to know I led a similar effort during my time as dean of Warwick Business School. And I will build on that experience.

The digital platform we will build at Olin will knit together all aspects of the school, tracking students through the whole programme from operations to registration, from class scheduling to faculty scheduling, from the classroom experience to our connections with Olin alumni. We will also build and equip state-of-the-art studios to capture online content.

“We are experienced in this,” Harper said. “It’s our expertise, but it goes beyond that. We’re keen to create new things once we learn the needs, unlocking the further potential of the faculty here.”

Might Olin eventually offer an online degree? Perhaps. Stay tuned. Right now, the plan is to build from the ground up a next generation virtual learning environment to support the new MBA, our professional MBA and, eventually, all our programmes, as well as a platform through which our alumni can better engage with one another.

It’s the right thing to do as we continue to enhance Olin’s global standing. And our students expect nothing less.

Pictured above: Staci Thomas is one of the Olin faculty members who has grown accustomed to “flipping the classroom” — assigning “knowledge transfer” to the homework and spending classroom time on interactive projects and engagement.




Laura Freeman

“Women earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master’s degrees…but only account for 6 percent of CEOs.”

That’s how Laura Freeman, chief people officer of Schnucks, powerfully begins her talk for the Women & Leadership series. Freeman has had an incredible career working in HR at some big-name corporations including Wendy’s Carlson Companies, and her current position at Schnucks.

Her commanding go-getter attitude was evident from the moment she stepped into the room. Using her broad range of experience, Freeman shared three pieces of advice for women in the workplace.

Ask for what you want (and make it known)

Freeman expressed that throughout her career, she noticed women around her waiting to be “tapped,” while men had no problem asking for what they want.

As a single parent, and therefore sole provider, to five children at home, Freeman pushed herself to ask for what she wanted and deserved in her career. Her imitative allowed her to excel in HR roles from an HR consultant to vice president-level role, and finally her current C-suite role.

Diversity, equity, and inclusive workplace

Since working in her first international role at Bekaert Corporation, Freeman understands the importance of working in a diverse workplace. Freeman strongly believes that a diverse workplace is a productive workplace. She defines diversity as coming from different backgrounds, thoughts, and experiences.

Freeman notes that many companies believe a diverse leadership board will just happen, but the truth is, we have to all take on the responsibility of helping diversify the workplace. She mentioned that in her long career, she had never had a female boss. This fact hit hard in a class called “Women & Leadership.” If we work hard and embrace diversity, coupled with equity and inclusion, we can better our working environments as well as ourselves.

Purposeful development and succession planning

Ideally, managers would take time to sit down with their employees and open a conversation about career planning, but often that’s not the case. It’s important to take initiative with your manager to start a dialogue about what your career looks like and map out your career path.

This shows ambition and also gets you on the same page with your manager. Further, it’ll help you see whether your career goals align with your proposed career path so you’ll know when it’s time to move on.




Arch Grant recipients Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15, Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17, and Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17.

Three startups spawned on the WashU campus joined the latest class of 20 companies to receive Arch Grants worth $50,000 each. All three companies were launched through Olin’s Hatchery course, one of the longest-running entrepreneurship courses in the United States.

The three Arch Grants recipients established at WashU are:

Balto, founded by Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15. The company markets software that uses artificial intelligence to improve the success rate of sales reps working in call centers.

CheckTheQ, founded by Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17. The company has created a monitoring system that delivers real-time information on wait times at airport security to airport operations.

GiftAMeal, founded by Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17. The company markets a mobile app that helps provide a meal to someone in need each time a user takes a photo on its app at a partner restaurant.

“The entrepreneurial drive of these young alums, and the progress they are making with their companies is really remarkable,” said Cliff Holekamp, professor of practice in entrepreneurship, who teaches the Hatchery course. “It wasn’t that long ago that these students were sharing their new business ideas with me in my office, now to see them win Arch Grants is very exciting and a meaningful validation of the traction they are making with their companies.”

The three companies, along with 17 others, learned they’d each receive the $50,000 grant on November 16 at the Arch Grants gala, according to a story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Arch Grants organization does not take an ownership stake in the companies it supports, but does require them to operate for at least a year from St. Louis in order to qualify for the money.

The Olin Hatchery course involves student teams that work on a commercial or social venture idea proposed by a student or community entrepreneur. The students work to produce two presentations to a panel of judges and a complete business plan for the startup enterprise. The course is open to any WashU student who has taken the prerequisites.

Watch the Arch Grants video about all the 2018 grant recipients.

Pictured above: Arch Grant recipients Marc Bernstein, BSBA ’15, Adam Hoffman, BSBA ’17, and Andrew Glantz, BSBA ’17.