Tag: Undergraduate



Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Laira Torres-Ruiz, BSBA ’17. Laira works for Guggenheim Partners in New York City as an investment banking analyst.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I’m an investment banker at Guggenheim Partners, mainly working on Retail M&A transactions. Olin gave me access to the most inquisitive and inspiring people – from distinguished professors to fellow peers – whose perspective, mentorship and encouragement helped me find the intersection of my passions and abilities in financial services. Finance is broader and more applicable than I could’ve ever imagined. I owe my interest in the field (and success in recruiting into it) to those that took the time to share their perspective and give me much needed advice.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

Staci Thomas – without a doubt (so much that the BSBA 2017 class gave her the teaching award at Commencement). We spend so much of our undergraduate years focusing on aggregating skills that we lose perspective on how these form part of a greater story – be it a week-long project, a client relationship, a personal brand or a career. Staci’s Management Communication helps students gain invaluable managerial perspectives, transforming us from experts in skills to well-rounded business strategists (that also have hard skills as part of their toolkit). She also does this in the most engaging of ways too. I still remember one of the projects was pitching a product I really disliked and receiving peer feedback on it. Those skills – thinking quickly on my feet, adapting to an audience, articulating a message concisely, speaking confidently – are the ones that have really made a difference in my career.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?

I’m thankful that I’ve kept in touch with those that made WashU so special. Olin does community very well, and that does not end after graduation. Alumni keep the spirit of collaboration alive, engaging with both the network and the University itself. I know I can call on any of my fellow alumni for advice or a referral. For example, fellow alumni guided me through the private equity recruiting process, which helped me succeed in securing my next position at Thomas H. Lee Partners in Boston. We also have a commitment to giving back to the school, which I live out by donating to scholarships and prioritizing campus recruiting for Guggenheim.

Why is business education important?

Someone once told me that “business is the art of getting things done”. While that’s too simple to capture the true relevance and importance of an undergraduate business education, I like what it’s conveying. Business education provides a framework to organize, tackle and solve problems. It’s more than financial modeling and marketing plans: it’s also communication skills, leading efficient meetings and a basic professional skillset. Some of my classmates went to less traditional fields like teaching and non-profit; they’re building thriving careers, part of which they to their business foundation. Many of my peers from other academic divisions regret not having been more exposed to business, but none of my Olin classmates has regretted being fully immersed in the experience.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

WashU is a safe place, so take more risks. Sign up for classes that will actually teach you something new (they’re often harder and not required). Go for that internship with notoriously challenging interviews (the worst thing they can say is no). Pick up a minor just because it’s interesting. Study abroad. Run for a position. Not everything has to have a “resume purpose”, so don’t get caught up with what others tell you you’re supposed to be doing. It’s often the most well-rounded and open-minded people that get ahead. Pass-fail is always an option, but going back in time isn’t.




Julie Wang is a rising sophomore in the Olin Business School studying Marketing and Economics & Strategy. Julie works as Strategy Fellow for Bear Studios, an undergraduate, student-run consulting and design firm.

Julie Wang, BSBA ’22, is studying marketing and economics & strategy. She wrote this for the Olin Blog.

We always ask ourselves: What’s next? After one chapter ends, what’s the next one?

These are questions that I’ve been asking myself a lot in the past year, as one natural “chapter” of my life — high school — closed and a new one started at Washington University in St. Louis. As I approached the last page on graduation day, I realized how I content I was with that chapter. The ending to this part of the story brought me to a destination toward which I had been working for so long and it all seemed to perfectly set me up to write the next four years.

To my surprise, I got to campus in the fall and the words started to fail me. Although I had years of experience as the author of my own life novel, I realized that for once in my life, I didn’t exactly know where the plot was going next.

What I prided myself on so much in high school — knowing clearly who I am and what I wanted to do—seemed to crumble when an environment filled with new people and opportunities tested me. I started to ask myself questions that had no answers.

What do you want to major in? At the moment, I thought I couldn’t possibly pick a major without knowing what I want to do post-graduation. What are you going to be involved with on campus? A question I once thought to be effortless to answer suddenly seemed just as enigmatic as the other.

All my life, it’s been one chapter after the next. I saw life in a way that seemingly reduced my options, because if something didn’t contribute to the next chapter, then it wasn’t anything at all. I limited my growth to my academic and extracurricular environments; when those chapters ended, I thought I was left with little to substantiate my “story.” If I didn’t have a destination, it seemed like I didn’t have a purpose.

Coming into college without a single ounce of confidence in what I want to do in the near future opened my mind to the idea that perhaps I don’t need to be certain about the contents of the next chapter to begin writing my story. This shift in perspective allowed me to find opportunities I otherwise may have never discovered if I had confined myself to a single mindset.

Refocusing my direction led me to consider Bear Studios, a student-led consulting and design firm that was recruiting strategy fellows for its consulting practice at the time. I had little idea as to what consulting entailed but was intrigued by the opportunity to interact with real-world businesses in the St. Louis area.

Before coming to college, I had never envisioned myself as a consultant—it wasn’t a part of my story. Yet, participating in Bear Studios has since been one of the most formative learning experiences of my first year.

During my second semester, I also decided to take a step out of my comfort zone by rushing a business fraternity. Although I wasn’t sure what was to be of my experience, the organization has shaped my growth tremendously, building my first-year story and introducing me to new ideas, opportunities, and networks on campus and in the business world.

Now, with the end of my first year of college and the start of summer break, I am faced with a re-evaluation of how I want to sustain my learning in these next few months.

Sometimes, it’s still difficult to grapple with my goal-oriented and destination-focused past self—because not knowing can truly be intimidating. But if there’s anything I do know now, it’s that I want to see life not in chapters, but as a continuum of personal growth and sustained learning. We don’t need a new “chapter” to start new projects or grow in different ways and we certainly don’t need to know how our story ends to begin writing it now.

Pictured above: Julie pictured with members of her professional fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.




Part of a series of Q&As with Olin Alumni. Today we hear from Justin Wexler, BSBA ’17. Justin is combining his finance and marketing skills in his role as the Director of Corporate Development at AnchorFree.

What are you doing for work now, and how did your Olin education impact your career?

I’ve spent the last 4 years in venture capital (first at Technology Crossover Ventures then at WndrCo). I am now the Director of Corporate Development at AnchorFree (WndrCo’s largest portfolio company). In my career, both finance and marketing skills have been critically important. Finance is important for analyzing deals and marketing is just as important as I’m often promoting my firm to entrepreneurs (in order to get them excited about receiving investment from us). Olin Business School’s 4 year undergrad program allowed me to major in finance and marketing; the fact that I was a business school student from the first day of freshman year led to me being well-prepared for working in business by the time I graduated from Wash U.

What Olin course, ‘defining moment’ or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

I remember a course on branding that I still think about all the time. In most cases, branding is really what differentiates a product or service from being a commodity. It’s why you spend so much on sneakers or pick a particular pair of earphones. Ever since that course, I’ve made it a point to develop my own personal brand and reputation. Without that, I don’t think I would have been recruited for my first, second, or third roles out of college. Olin taught me the importance of making a lasting impact on anyone I meet because you never know when you’ll run into that person again.

How do you stay engaged with Olin or your Olin classmates and friends?

There are lots of great alumni events in San Francisco! It’s an awesome way to stay connected with the Olin community while being on the West Coast.

Why is business education important?

I really believe that a business education is relevant for really anything in life. Even if you plan on grad school or something outside of traditional “business,” understanding the principles of accounting, finance, and marketing are all important skills that really every adult should possess.

Looking back, what advice would you give current Olin students?

Get very involved in student groups on campus. When I was a sophomore, I started a public speaking club on campus. It was just me when it started out… but eventually grew to over 300 students. That experience really helped hone my leadership skills and my passion for entrepreneurship. Student groups are a great way to “practice” because in a few years, the stakes will be much higher in the “real world.”




OAri Lewine, BSBA ’09, co-founder and chief strategy officer of TripleLift, was recognized for his innovative contributions to the advertising industry with over-the-top (OTT) marketing.

Lewine was named a Broadcasting & Cable 2019 Digital All-Star for his work at TripleLift. The 12 All-Star executives have not only made a great impact over the past year, but also blaze a trail for the future.

During Advertising Week in September, Lewine was featured in the Native Disrupter series. He spoke about how brand integration, specifically with over-the-top marketing, can combat ad-free experiences within on-demand subscription services such as Netflix.

“People are used to an ad-free experience, but the cost to produce content keeps going up, so the big challenge is to create program and brand integration, to get the brand message into content,” Lewine said in an interview with B&C. “We want to use new technology to create ads relevant to viewers.”

TripleLift uses over-the-top market tactics to bring new ways of advertising onto screen. “Overlay” ad techniques place relevant ads in the corner of the screen during programming, while “brand insertion” techniques insert ads onto blank space, like a billboard, during programming.

Lewine sees the future of the advertising industry focusing on the needs of individual consumers.

“We’ve gotten really good at understanding who our customer is, how we can reach them, and how we can see whether ads are working,” said Lewine in an interview during Advertising Week. “Now the question is, now that we’ve found that person, what are we actually delivering? What is the message? What does the message look like?”




Sara Hannah

The 2018 Olin Business magazine shared a series of vignettes featuring alumni faced with a business decision requiring them to weigh data with their values. We featured these stories to support Olin’s strategic pillar focused on equipping leaders to confront challenge and create change, for good. This is one of those vignettes.

Mike Budden was relentless. And Sara Hannah, BSBA ’01, recognized the potential impact. So that’s why the first global branch of the Barry-Wehmiller Leadership Institute is based in Cape Town, South Africa.

The South African leadership consultant had attended a BW workshop three years earlier, and was using some of its principles in his own work. Budden had stayed in touch with Hannah, trying to persuade her to open the institute—with its people- centric principles—in his hometown.

Hannah, managing partner of the Berry-Wehmiller Leadership Institute, initially wasn’t so sure. “It made absolutely no sense for us to do business in Cape Town,” she said. The currency exchange rate was unfavorable. It would be the institute’s first foray into an overseas market. Budden was already there.

Yet other data was compelling: “When we looked at the economic and government situation in South Africa, we saw that business is the way to touch the lives of people,” Hannah said. Not government or NGOs. Business.

The institute made a minimum two-year commitment in Cape Town. “We believe we measure success by the way we touch the lives of people,” Hannah said.