Tag: Undergraduate

In the first week of October, Anne Petersen was in the passenger seat driving through upstate New York when she noticed her email was starting to blow up.

The Weston Career Center coach was on vacation with her husband when inquiries started to roll in from an email the career center had just sent to thousands of WashU Olin alumni. “You’ll always be able to partner with the Weston Career Center for lifetime career support,” the email said, inviting alumni to seek support whenever they needed it.

Seek they did. More than 50 Olin alumni reached out within the week that the email blast and video went out. Some were recent alumni, out only a year or two. Some had left as long ago as the 1960s.

“The emails started coming and the phone started ringing immediately. It was more than we anticipated,” Petersen said. “I don’t think alums were aware of our coaching services and the breadth of resources available. They also didn’t realize that we work with alums across the country via phone or Skype, as well as in person in St. Louis.”

Existing services—and new ones

The email campaign and related video were designed to remind Olin alumni of the career coaching resources available to them long after they walked away with their diploma. Coaching, career assessment, personal branding, resume and LinkedIn profile building, interview preparation, networking and negotiation—all services alumni can continue to get from the Weston Career Center.

That day in October, Petersen started responding to alumni seeking ideas about making a career pivot or changing geographies. She set up later appointments with some and worked with Jen Whitten, associate dean and director of the Weston Career Center, who fielded inquiries and connected alums with experienced coaches on the WCC team—including Frans Van Oudenallen, Mary Houlihan and Kathie McCloskey.

“They’ve run the gamut from young alums, undergrads, MBAs, specialized masters, senior citizens, mothers that were out of the workforce,” Petersen said. “It’s been a great process. We have had the opportunity to work with a lot of fascinating alums.”

Once Olin, Always Olin

A number of them have started by taking advantage of the WCC’s career leader assessment, a survey instrument that normally costs $75—but is available to alumni free of charge.

“It gives alums insight regarding their interests, motivations, skills, potential career directions and company culture matches,” Petersen said.Petersen said. The response to the email has been gratifying for the WCC team, who had sensed the services were not well-known enough or that alumni from outside St. Louis might be reticent to take advantage of them.

“They very much are commenting about the idea of ‘Once Olin, Always Olin’— the idea that it’s for me at any stage of your career,” Petersen said. “They felt like, ‘This does pertain to me—no matter where I am.'”

Looking for career help as an Olin alum? Contact Anne Petersen for career coaching resources (annepetersen@wustl.edu or 314-935-8951), or Jen Whitten (jwhitten@wustl.edu or 314-935-8970) to discuss WCC’s resources or any questions you might have. For remote coaching, the WCC is prepared to connect via Skype, phone or in person.

Jen Flaxman, MSW

A beloved alumnus who displayed unfailing mentorship for students and support for Olin Business School now has another enduring legacy in his name: An endowed scholarship that will provide full tuition for undergraduate students for years to come.

Jon Flaxman
Jon Flaxman

Jon Flaxman, MBA ’81, died in March 2018, just a few months after taking part in the sort of alumni support that came naturally: He welcomed 21 Olin students to HP Inc. headquarters, where he served as COO, during the students’ west coast career trek.

Flaxman had risen through the ranks during a 36-year career at Hewlett-Packard before becoming second-in-command at HP Inc. To honor Flaxman, his former company established and endowed the Jon & Lauri Flaxman HP Inc. Scholarship at the $1 million level.

The company made the announcement at the time of his death.

“Supporting this scholarship was an easy decision for the company. Jon was a longtime, dedicated contributor to the HP community. Anyone who knew him also knew how dearly he loved Washington University and Olin Business School,” HP Inc. said in a statement. “We are honored to carry on Jon’s legacy in this way.”

Contributions from colleagues

Even beyond the company’s gift, hundreds more family members and former colleagues contributed privately to the fund, bringing the total amount raised for the endowed scholarship to more than $1.1 million.

The Flaxmans had funded annual scholarships at Olin since 2011, supporting several students in the process.

“Through their long-term support of the university, the Flaxmans embody the community-wide spirit that makes WashU such a special place,” said Andrew Martin, Chancellor of Washington University. “This scholarship established in their honor will continue to sustain the university and make a significant difference in the lives of our students.”

One such student, Aman Grover, BSBA ’21, said he had an opportunity to meet Jon and Lauri in October 2017. The following year, Grover was named the inaugural recipient of the newly established Jon & Lauri Flaxman HP Inc. Scholarship.

“This has taken a huge burden off the shoulders of my family, and I get to experience college as someone with immensely more financial freedom as a result,” Grover said. “The scholarship in his name—that’s going to similarly help change the lives of many students coming after me as well.”

Generous contributions to Olin

Jon Flaxman’s postgraduate work with Olin went well beyond scholarship support. He gave generously to name a study room in Knight Hall in 2014; served on the San Francisco Regional Cabinet; volunteered as the San Francisco leader for Leading Together: The Campaign for Washington University; and served on Olin’s National Council as well as the university’s Parents Council.

Jon and Lauri Flaxman’s son Brian earned his undergraduate degree from Olin in 2012. Their niece, Jen Flaxman, is a graduate student in the Brown School.

“Jon’s influence on Olin Business School—and on our students—will not be forgotten,” said Dean Mark Taylor, the Donald Danforth Jr. Distinguished Professor of Finance. “We are truly grateful for HP’s extraordinary generosity in honoring Jon with this endowment. This gift shines a bright light on the company’s deep commitment to its employees and its worldwide philanthropic support for education.”

Based in Palo Alto, Calif., HP Inc. creates technology designed to improve lives for people around the world, with a product portfolio that includes printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services. The company employs more than 40,000 people in offices spanning the globe, including the Americas, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Pictured above: Jen Flaxman, MSW ’20; Aman Grover, BSBA ’21; Lauri Flaxman; and Brian Flaxman, BSBA ’12.

Moderator Peter Boumgarden with Gerard Craft, Kevin Nashan, Zoë Robinson and Danny Meyer.

Danny Meyer wasn’t always able to convey a sense of sprezzatura in the restaurants he’s created. That ability to make the difficult look easy—well, that took some time for the Shake Shack founder and restaurateur.

“A new restaurant doesn’t get good until it gets broken in,” Meyer said. “The way you scale it, which is not easy, is to hire people whose greatest joy and pleasure is to make other people feel better.”

Meyer, a native St. Louisan and CEO of New York-based Union Square Hospitality Group, took the WashU Olin stage today for “At the Table: Chef as Artist and Executive,” a standing-room-only event that kicked off the school’s new minor in the business of the arts.

Meyer began the program with a one-on-one conversation with Olin’s Peter Boumgarden, professor of practice, strategy and organizations. Later, Boumgarden moderated the discussion with a quartet of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs—including Meyer—who confessed the learnings they gained in their careers.

Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer on stage with moderator Peter Boumgarden.

They also promoted the need for business and arts to converge in order to promote the vision of chefs, painters, playwrights, singers and other creative souls.

The panel included Meyer and St. Louis-based restaurateurs Gerard Craft, James Beard award winning founder of Niche Food Group; Kevin Nashan, also a Beard award winner and founder of Sydney Street Cafe and Peacemaker; and Zoë Robinson, owner of St. Louis restaurants I Fratellini, Bar Les Frères and Billie-Jean.

The four spoke about the ways they’ve been inspired to create their restaurants and the importance of creating a culture within their companies that prioritizes employees, customers, the community and investors in a “virtuous cycle,” according to Meyer, whose restaurant group includes Gramercy Tavern, The Modern and Maialino.

Thursday’s event drew the restaurateurs into discussions about the global influences they’ve gained that have informed their restaurants and the challenge of tracking the evolving values of restaurant customers while maintaining profitability.

They also spoke plainly about why an artistic vision—even a great vision—dies without the savvy to get it commercialized.

“I really have had to learn how to be an executive second. I’m still learning,” Craft said. “Artists don’t want to talk about money, they don’t want to think about money, but at the end of the day, if you want to go on, you have to make money.”

The minor in the business of the arts launched this semester with six students—five of whom are students in the Sam Fox School. Rich Ritholz, BSBA ’84, and his wife, Linda, made the program possible with a $1 million donation announced in April 2018. At the time, he said his daughter’s experience inspired the program. She started as a Sam Fox fashion design student who quickly realized she needed business skills to make her vision come to life.

“This was really incredible. Just incredible. I couldn’t be more pleased,” Ritholz said after the morning’s event. “Now we just have to keep the momentum going. We want this minor to be all it can be, and that just means getting the word out.”

Meyer said a key ingredient for any new restaurant is the answer to one series of questions.

“What problem does this solve? Why does the world need it? What do we have to add to the dialogue around this topic?” he asked. A new restaurant might serve familiar food—but better than customers knew it could be prepared. “People are not willing to park quality or taste in the back lot,” but they still want fast, affordable food.

Pictured above: Moderator Peter Boumgarden with Gerard Craft, Kevin Nashan, Zoë Robinson and Danny Meyer.

Aimee Wittman and Jim Beirne from the WashU Career Center and adjunct professor Robert Portnoy began the Business Fundamentals and Professional Competencies for Non-Business Students course as a career education opportunity and a way WashU Olin can provide non-business students with a better understanding of the business mindset and business vocabulary.

The course is centered on three areas of professional competency that are universal across all fields: leadership, interpersonal communication skills and business mindset.

Students who take the course are exposed to strategic and tactical perspectives and explore topics including strategic decision-making, accounting, data analytics and marketing.

“The course is composed of an overarching framework of building a business mindset coupled with a career exploration journey,” Wittman said. It is then divided into topical areas led by various faculty through the use of case studies and assignments designed by the faculty for their specific fields of expertise.

Specific coursework allows students to gain an understanding of what companies are looking for and identify their own skills in the process. This includes resume building, learning how to use LinkedIn, practicing informational interviews and career assessment activities.

Students also participate in a business simulation in which they are divided into competing teams and must create they own companies. The simulation allows the students to incorporate business decision-making and business mindsets.  

Going into its sixth year, the course is open to 40 students per semester.

According to Wittman, students have responded well to the course and have gotten a lot out of it by developing an appreciation of the vocabulary and mindset. In addition to this, they gain confidence in skills and an immersion into new thinking.

P. Konstantina Kiousis
P. Konstantina Kiousis

Konstantina Kiousis, senior lecturer in business management, was named one of Poets & Quants for Undergrads Favorite Professors of Business Majors.

Kiousis was nominated by Andrew Bower, her former student and teaching assistant, for “her passion for business strategy and care for her students.” Bower testified to her dedication to keeping lectures current in order to promote critical thinking among her students.

According to Bowen, her attitude with TAs promotes a “familial culture,” which leads to mentorship opportunities between juniors and seniors.

“While it may sound cliché, Dr. K truly changes lives each semester,” said Bowen.

The 11 professors were nominated by Poet & Quant’s list of the Best and Brightest Undergrad Business Majors of 2019. The educators were praised for ability to leave lessons that resonate for a lifetime, both inside and outside the classroom. These professors have the “it” factor: “comfortable in their own skin and able to seamlessly adapt to whatever their students need.”

Kelli Washington, BSBA ’94, received multiple accolades for her work as managing director of research and investment strategy at Cleveland Clinic.

In June, Washington was named one of Institutional Investor’s Most Wanted Allocators. The list features executives who are “most coveted for chief investment officer roles.” The ranking is determined by both the candidate’s portfolio and the candidate’s non-portfolio management skills, judged by executive recruiters in the industry.

Out of 25, Washington was ranked 14th and was recognized as “very polished” with “a great deal of credibility.” Recruiters encourage readers to “keep an eye on her.”

Rightly so, as Washington was named to another list about a week later.

Washington was one of 30 named to Chief Investment Officer’s Class of 2019 NextGens for her ability to “effectively harness and analyze a vast amount of data.” NextGens are nominated anonymously by the investment community for their leadership skills.

In her role, Washington works to manage institutional assets at Cleveland Clinic, one of the largest and most respected hospitals in the country.

Although her work is based in Cleveland, Washington constantly thinks global. In an interview with Chief Investment Officer, she spoke about the opportunities and challenges when investing in other markets like China, India and Saudi Arabia. “To be able to think about how we can help companies in…other markets to grow and expand while earning a return that will serve our mission is very exciting,” she said.

Washington’s interest for endowment and foundation management started at Olin where she served as a student representative to the board of trustees on the finance committee. Through that experience, she “came to understand the role and importance of having a pool of assets to support operations, research, and scholarship.”