Tag: Undergraduate

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.

The team working on business recommendations for Laughing Bear Bakery through the Small Business Initiative at the Center for Experiential Learning.

A group of WashU Olin undergraduates cooked up a sweet selection of recommendations for a St. Louis-area bakery that provides a second chance for individuals who have been released from prison.

Laughing Bear Founder Kalen McAllister, left, inside the bakery with friends.

In their Small Business Initiative consulting project—through Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning—the students consulted with Laughing Bear Bakery, a mostly wholesale business located in St. Louis’ Tower Grove South neighborhood. The students—Grace Shen, BSBA 2025; Gavri Steiger, AB 2025; Jake Wolf, BSBA 2025; AJ Sann, BSBA 2024; and Oliver Every, BSBA 2025—were charged with working with the bakery’s founders to suggest ways to make the nonprofit more sustainable.

“From our first meeting, it was apparent that at the heart of the business was a social cause” Steiger said during a recent in-person presentation to the founders at Olin. “We thought there were things on the business end that could match the passion of their social commitment.”

Laughing Bear in St. Louis’ Tower Grove South neighborhood (courtesy of Laughing Bear board member Eric Satterfield)

The students visited Laughing Bear—which was featured in an NBC-TV Today Show video in November 2022—to meet with founder and former prison chaplain Kalen McAllister, along with other employees and board members. The students dug deep into the bakery’s pricing model, its sales and expenses, its product lineup and its marketing. A good deal of the work was aimed at putting order to a business model—critical to the nonprofit’s ability to apply for grant funding.

“It was super fun to work with an actual business. I really love talking to the founders of businesses. I was lucky and happy to do it,” Shen said. “People our age often don’t get the chance to contribute in such a meaningful way.” Through their analysis, the students developed “price sensitivity models” to adjust the bakery’s work to seasonal needs and a five-year growth plan.

At work in the bakery

They also proposed a “donation cookie”—a product customers could buy, and enjoy, while effectively donating to Laughing Bear’s cause.

“A lot of people miss the fact that not all business are the same,” said Mike Whipkey, a member of Laughing Bear’s board of directors, who watched the students’ presentation. “A lot of the time, people get good advice, but it’s delivered really badly, and these guys understood that.”

Members of the student team stressed how thrilled they were to make a real-world contribution to a cause-oriented business they could get behind.

“Being able to give insights to people who may not have a business background, but can benefit from something I learned in class — that was really exciting for us,” Sann said.

Pictured above, from left: Mike Whipkey, Jake Wolf, AJ Sann, Oliver Every, Gavri Steiger and Grace Shen.

Diane Toroian Keaggy originally wrote this article for The Source.

Vivienne Chang and Eugenia Yoh met back in 2019 at a campus hotpot party hosted by the Taiwanese Students Organization. The two students soon learned, not surprisingly, they both loved the food, culture and people of Taiwan where they both had family. They also discovered another, more unusual passion—children’s books. 

Chang, an economics and strategy student at Olin Business School, will make a beeline to the picture book section of any bookstore she visits. And Yoh, a communication design graduate of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, grew up dreaming that one day she would illustrate children’s books. So when Yoh decided to take a gap year during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chang had an idea. 

“I was like, ‘Let’s make a children’s book,’” Chang recalled. “I had no idea how the publishing industry worked, but I thought it would be a fun project for us to do together.” 

Vivienne Chang (left), a senior at Olin Business School, and Eugenia Yoh, a 2022 alumna, created their debut picture book during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy photo)

Soon the friends met at a Panera to sketch out their tale of an American girl who moves to Taiwan. A month later, they had an agent. A month after that, they found themselves at the center of a four-way bidding war among the nation’s leading publishing houses. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers won and signed Yoh and Chang to a two-book deal. All in all, the journey from concept to contract took a mere four months — definitely not how the publishing industry typically works.

“My relatives in Taiwan actually thought we got scammed because it all seemed too good to be true,” Chang said. “We were definitely very, very fortunate.” 

The result is “This is Not My Home,” a funny but aching story about Lily, who must leave her friends and school in America to help her mother care for her grandmother in Taiwan. Lily does not like her new home—the strange food, the crowded market, the weird toilets—but, in time and with a mother’s love, she finds her place.

“From the start, I wanted to make a book about a girl who is feeling raw and genuine anger,” Yoh said. “We tell the story against the cultural backdrop of Taiwan, a place that is very important to both of us. But any child who has had to move can see themselves in Lily.”

Throughout the creative process, Yoh and Chang received helpful feedback from John Hendrix, a professor and chair of the Master of Fine Arts in Illustration & Visual Culture program, and support from their friends in the Asian community. In addition to serving as executives of the Taiwanese Students Organization, Yoh and Chang also performed at Lunar New Year with the Chinese Yo-yo Club.

In coming weeks, Chang and Yoh will launch a small book tour starting in St. Louis. Readings are scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, at Betty’s Books, 10 Summit Ave., and at 6 p.m. Feb. 7 at Subterranean Book, 6271 Delmar Blvd.

After that, they will start planning their next book while pursuing very different careers. Yoh’s dream of illustrating children’s books did come true. After graduating in 2022, she moved to San Francisco, where she designs children’s book covers for Chronicle Books. And Chang, who is scheduled to graduate in May, has accepted a job in New York as an innovation analyst for JP Morgan.

“We don’t know what the next book will be, but we’re excited to do it together,” Chang said.

Students display posters to culminate work in Managerial Statistics II.

Eli Snir, senior lecturer in management for WashU Olin Business School, wrote this for the Olin Blog.

When thinking about the value of business education, one invariably ends up realizing that a business school is all about integrating multiple disciplines into a coherent analysis.

Yes, business classes involve statistics, marketing, accounting, strategy and finance. But to realize the value of these, integration across disciplines is key. That’s the objective of the poster session in the Managerial Statistics II course, DAT 121, a required undergraduate course that draws mostly second-year undergraduates.

Gabriella Dorman, Amy Ma and Jamie Kornheiser with the author, Eli Snir.

Students choose a project of their own to demonstrate the skills they learned in the class, which are primarily multiple linear regression. Throughout the semester, our student groups work on their projects to hone their skills. The poster session is the culmination of this effort. Students present their work on posters to other students, faculty and staff.

Some of the posters that students displayed

Our key motto at WashU Olin is a value-based, data-driven, approach to decision-making. Each person brings their values to bear when choosing a project to analyze. Topics encompass the vast breadth of student interests, including public health, consumer engagement, movie success, financial markets, video game industry analysis, house prices and the always-popular sports analyses. Statistics is the tool that combines all of these together.

Lera Wilson, Cole Wesley, the author and Joyce Zhao

Through rigorous analytical methods, students develop models to understand the relationships between the independent variables and their chosen dependent variable. Often, these models assist in making decisions. We are laying the foundation for a data-driven approach that should guide students throughout their professional career.

A poster session is a format that is professional while being somewhat relaxed. The diverse audience in attendance challenges students to prepare a message that is managerial while showing their technical accomplishments. Casual visitors to Olin are interested in understanding the managerial insights from these analyses.

Jamie Nicholson, Alice Han, the author and Breanna Yang

On the other hand, faculty stop by, too. They frequently want these presentations to exemplify students’ technical skills. Questions often require students to justify the methodologies they chose and explain statistical processes that are utilized. Fortunately, Olin students shine on both accounts. They represent the success of our programs.

And don’t forget the food. We enjoyed high-quality snacks throughout the event.

Pictured at top: The author, Eli Snir, with Avi Holzman, Kate Sifferlen and Omeed Moshirfar.

J.T. Mosbacher, in a blue striped shirt, seated next to his wife, Heidi Morris-Mosbacher, in a white blouse.

What happens when you combine a profound appreciation for the power of education, deep gratitude for opportunities opened by a scholarship, setting priorities, and career success?

For J.T. Mosbacher and Heidi Morris-Mosbacher, you get the chance to be among the youngest alumni ever to endow a scholarship for future business students at WashU Olin Business School.

“Education and philanthropy are very important to our family. It has shaped who we are,” said J.T., AB 2010/PMBA 2015. “These are some of our biggest priorities. Heidi and I have deep discussions about how to pave the path forward.”

Indeed, for Heidi, AB 2009, it’s a perfect opportunity to give back after being a self-described “scholarship kid.” Thirteen years after graduating from WashU, she was excited to let her own scholarship donor know of their gift.

Both J.T. and Heidi work as financial advisors for Edward Jones in St. Louis, where they take great pride in serving in coaching roles with their clients, helping them to set and achieve goals. The couple sees the ability to endow a scholarship as an extension of some of the work they do with clients—prioritizing and establishing a legacy.

Impacting lives ‘in perpetuity’

“We’ve been blessed with career success,” Heidi said. “Our hope is that we can impact the lives of others in perpetuity. With what we do for a living, we are confronted by the following questions: ‘What do we want our legacy to look like? What impact do we want to have on the world?’ on a near daily basis. I see our legacy as threefold: the human beings we shape our children into, philanthropy, and being a part of our clients’ life stories.”

The couple also hopes to instill these values into their three children.  “Our hope is that our actions will inspire them and others along the way,” said J.T.

The pair met at WashU thanks, in part, to what J.T. described as his “snaking path” to a career. Initially, he felt pressure to declare a major early on and chose architecture but soon realized that was not going to be his career. “Going to a university that was forgiving if I changed my major was a prerequisite.  I also have a second major in American Culture Studies,” he said. “That’s how I met Heidi. She’s a dual major in Political Science and American Culture Studies.”

For her part, Heidi found a path as a WashU student looking into investment research. “I didn’t grow up around investing jargon. I didn’t know what stocks or bonds were,” she said. “I stumbled upon investing my freshman year and ended up in a brokerage firm office at 18 years old telling them I wanted to open an account. The advisor looked at me and asked if my parents knew I was there.”

Her path eventually led her to study at the London School of Economics.

Enduring influence of WashU

“Not only do I enjoy wealth management and financial planning, the true highlight of my career is forming relationships with the families that I serve,” she said. “I enjoy getting to know people on a very deep level and helping them achieve their version of financial success.”

J.T. and Heidi’s contribution brings the number of endowed scholarships at Olin to 205 as of December 2022. Their endowed scholarship was established with a gift where a portion of the earnings are reinvested, helping to ensure resources for the scholarship will always be available.

Both J.T. and Heidi specifically recalled a personal finance course they took under Mike Gordinier as a highlight of their WashU education. “That was a phenomenal class,” Heidi said. “It opened my eyes to a career path.”

For J.T., joining a cohort of young professionals in their PMBA program was also a formative experience as successful classmates worked together to catapult their careers: “The discussions and ability to relate to our work experiences helped bring the theories we learned in the classroom to life.”

To join J.T. and Heidi in supporting financial aid resources for our students, please visit the Scholars in Business website for more information.