Tag: Undergraduate

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Brooke Hofer, BSBA ’16.

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

I started my career in the campus sales program on the beverage side of PepsiCo after doing a summer internship with them, but around a year ago, I left to work for Waste Management. My current role is as pricing analyst for the Illinois Missouri Valley Market Area.

I am the disposal pricing lead, so the vast majority of my time is spent analyzing the current state of our pricing strategies for third-party customers who use our Waste Management-owned landfills and working with the industrial account managers to make sure new business is being sold at a profitable rate.

It is crucial for me to understand the market rates and the competitive environment so that not only do we remain profitable, but also competitive. Although the waste industry may not be the most glamorous (especially coming from somewhere like Pepsi), it has proven to be multi-faceted, ever-evolving and extremely competitive.

I graduated from Olin with degrees in Finance and Marketing, with the sole intention of going down a Sales or Marketing career path. When I was ready to make a career change, the finance courses that I took at Olin allowed me to have the confidence to step out of my comfort zone and take on a new role that was much more financial and analytically focused.

I have seen many courses that I took at Olin come to life at both Pepsi and Waste Management and that can be attributed to Olin’s emphasis on real-life examples and case studies that not only allowed us to better learn and understand the material, but also implement it in our work post-graduation.

After graduating from Olin, I felt that the classes I took, the projects I worked on and the interactions that I had with peers and professors had fully prepared me for a career in the business world, whether it was on the sales/marketing trajectory or something entirely different.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

Hunter Wasser (’17 Olin Grad), Kenzie James (teammate on WashU softball), myself and Mitch McMahon

Without the Woods Scholars program, I would not have been able to attend WashU or Olin and for that I am forever grateful for the Woods family for making that possible.

From the moment I stepped on campus for scholarship weekend my senior year of high school and was greeted by Paige LaRose and Dean (Steve) Malter, I knew Olin would be the best place to prepare me for a career in the business world and life post-college.

Paige ended up becoming an incredible mentor for me, guiding me through my four years on campus and even beyond when I needed help with a job search, and the Woods Scholar Program connected me to students, faculty and others I would not have otherwise had the pleasure of knowing.

Being a part of this program enhanced my time at Olin greatly and the education that it provided me continues to be a constant influence in my career and life.

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

My 4 roommates from WashU – Emily Erani (Olin 16′), Claire Garpestad, Breanna Valcarel, myself and Hannah Towle (Olin ’16)

A lot of my friends, and even softball teammates, were Olin graduates as well and the best part of WashU is that it brings people together from all walks of life, so now I have friends to visit all over the country! Whether it’s just a weekend trip or a wedding with a lot of us in attendance, it’s great to stay in touch with everyone that played such a big role in my life for my four years on campus.

Throughout the job search about a year ago, I realized how beneficial it was to know someone that worked for the companies that I was looking at or even in the same industry, so I definitely plan on making sure to continue utilizing all of the connections that I made at Olin and WashU in general.

Why is business education important?

Amanda Kalupa (Olin ’16), myself and Annie Pitkin | 2016 WashU softball graduating class

In my opinion, the most beneficial part of the business education, specifically one from Olin, is that I graduated feeling like I had a well-rounded understanding of the business world and its various functions. Although I focused on Marketing and Finance, I still was able to understand the basics behind Accounting, Operations, etc. because of the courses that a business education allowed me to take.

With this basic understanding of all different facets of a business, I feel comfortable taking on new roles or new industries throughout my career. In addition to the courses that we took, the group projects and presentations absolutely prepare you for projects, meetings and presentations that will happen often, if not weekly, throughout your career.

Olin group projects put us in great positions to learn how to work with others that may think differently than you and that’s exactly what happens in the office every single day.

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

My parents, siblings and I in Sedona, AZ | January 2019

Although Olin does require that certain beginner courses be taken in various fields of business, I would definitely recommend branching out and taking other courses at Olin that may not fall directly in line with what your career path will be or may not be required; these could end up supplementing your career very well.

When I was at Olin, I had only envisioned myself in a sales or marketing role, so I focused heavily on those types of courses, but now that my career path has taken a turn, I am glad that I took other courses in accounting, organizational behavior, etc.

Use the career center, job fairs and Meet the Firms! Now having been a part of the other side of recruiting, I have come to understand the importance of meeting applicants face to face before the interview process and the power of first impressions.

Often times we (as recruiters) made up our minds about candidates on the spot at the job fairs, so make sure to use the opportunities that Olin affords you (even though they can sometimes be nerve-racking) as a way to make a great first impression to potential employers.

Pictured above: Brooke Hofer with Mitch McMahon. A 2016 Olin Grad and fellow Woods Scholar.

Lise Shipley, EMBA

For nearly two years, Lise Shipley and Darcy Cunningham have worked together, shared stories, absorbed advice and enjoyed sports. Shipley, EMBA ’93, is a scholarship donor. Cunningham, BSBA ’19, is the recipient of Shipley’s scholarship.

“It’s all about the opportunities I’ve been able to have here at Washington University,” Cunningham said. “I would not have been able to come to WashU without Lise’s generosity.”

As she winds down her undergraduate life and prepares to launch her career as a commercial underwriter at Liberty Mutual in Chicago, Cunningham easily expresses her gratitude for the advice and the role model Shipley has provided since they became acquainted two years ago.

Shipley—a pioneer during the mid-1990s in developing and marketing internet and WiFi networks and services to businesses and consumers during a long career with AT&T—is now a partner in a women-led angel investing firm called Next Wave Ventures and consults with small business startups.

Cunningham—a star on WashU’s women’s soccer team with an NCAA championship under her belt—is the sixth recipient of the Lise Shipley Scholarship since Shipley started funding it in 2005. While her family funds scholarships at several institutions, Shipley finds WashU Olin’s approach to be unique—and the most rewarding.

“Olin makes such a great effort to introduce the awardee with the donor,” she said. “The Scholars in Business event is one of my favorites. Not only do I get to meet my recipient, but I get to meet other students. The real game changer is that you follow the recipients for two, maybe three years. You get a longer time to develop a relationship with the students.”

She’s been able to tell her story, explaining how she decided to get an MBA when she was well into her career, counseling women about managing their careers and providing advice about bringing balance into their lives and careers.

“She’s told me a lot about her career. I’ve been fascinated by the way she has taken ahold of her life—traveling, working with women in business,” Cunningham said. “It was cool to hear how once you have proved yourself, you have a lot of options to make an impact, to keep in touch with your passion.”

Paulino do Rego Barros Jr.

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.

When Retail Credit Corporation was founded in Atlanta nearly 120 years ago, the company kept paper files on consumers to gauge their creditworthiness. “This industry has grown from looking at a file and just saying, ‘Does he pay his bills? Yes or no?’” said Paulino do Rego Barros Jr., MBA ’91.

Indeed, as a veteran executive at the company now known as Equifax, he’s on the vanguard of the power and pitfalls the massive data revolution has wrought on the industry and its customers. Equifax and its competitors wield data that tracks purchases, evaluates how reliably customers pay bills, and measures customer assets.

In spite of the power, Barros said, “there is a strong sense of stewardship and ethics.” That sense of stewardship came through a little more than a year ago when hackers breached Equifax.

Two days after he was named interim CEO, Barros apologized to consumers and customers in The Wall Street Journal. Barros is now US Information Solutions, president and former interim CEO, Equifax.

“We didn’t live up to expectations,” he wrote. Under his leadership, the company gave consumers free credit monitoring services, upgraded its website, boosted access to call-center support, and instituted other measures to regain the faith of consumers and customers.

“The regulatory framework establishes very clearly what we can or cannot do with consumer data,” he said. “But the decisions I made—and our ethical and moral values—are very important to us.”

Eric Osman, BSBA 2013

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin BSBA alumni. Today we hear from Eric Osman, BSBA ’13. Eric recently left his marketing role at Harry’s to start his own company: Mockingbird, a direct-to-consumer baby gear company.

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

I’ve recently started a business called Mockingbird, so in my role as founder and CEO, I’m doing a mix of fundraising, hiring, managing, marketing, product development … a little bit of everything! Olin definitely impacted my career by helping me explore a diverse curriculum that gave me an understanding of all the different parts of the business world.

That helped me focus on what was most interesting for me to pursue. But also, having an appreciation for all the other facets of business, even if they’re not directly tied into your job’s function, is so valuable. It helps you interact with other teams better, have more empathy for the other roles at your company and ultimately be more effective.

And particularly in the position I’m in now, it’s vital that I at least have some basic comprehension of every function—from supply chain to marketing to accounting to economics.

What Olin course, “defining moment” or faculty influenced your life most, and why?

The course I remember most is probably the Hatchery. In general, I thought the entrepreneurship classes were so fascinating, applicable and tangible, and always loved the emphasis Olin and Skandalaris placed on providing students with opportunities to experience and appreciate entrepreneurship.

The Hatchery was one of the coolest manifestations of that, since we literally got to go through the full process of starting a company, from business plan all the way into execution (and our team’s leader actually continued running that business after graduating).

That experience highlighted for me that some elements of the process are exactly like you learned in class, but some require a totally separate application of knowledge, creativity and grit.

And I’ve taken that with me into my career—the idea that, while a lot of what you learn at any given time may at some point be directly applicable, the actual process of learning and being forced to overcome real roadblocks is the most beneficial thing of all. Because being able to apply that process and that fortitude to each set of challenges you face is a lifetime skill.

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

Some of my Olin classmates are still some of my best friends and I see them very regularly. It’s always great to hear where their careers have taken them, some to startups, some to banks, some to graduate schools, some to art. There’s a bond of those who went through Olin, and a desire to help each other out in a really genuine way—and that’s fantastic.

In fact, as I got my startup off the ground, I reached out to a fellow alum who helped us garner some of our first press coverage and another alum who let us work out of her company’s office for a while.

I think we all want each other to succeed, and there’s a real excitement watching and helping other fellow Olin grads in their careers.

Why is business education important?

No matter what field you go into, a business education is incredibly valuable. The skills and knowledge inherent to operating within the business world are so universally applicable in so many industries and job functions (and even personal life).

For instance, I remember doing a unit on negotiation in an Olin class I took. I don’t think anyone would argue that a business’s conference room is the only place negotiation happens. And imagine you want to be an artist. I’d have to believe that any artist who understands the market dynamics of how their art will be commissioned, auctioned, valued, etc. will ultimately be more successful.

In general, businesses are just about bringing valuable ideas into the marketplace and continually trying to make them more valuable. So the best business classes just teach you how to think about improving something—whether that’s improving a supply chain, improving a company’s marketing messaging, or improving the product itself.

That mindset is something you can truly apply to everything, both inside and outside the ‘traditional’ business world.

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

Try to maintain perspective on why you’re there, what you’re learning and how it will be applicable afterward. Know that the process of what you’re doing there is even more important than the functional material you’re being taught, so take the process seriously.

Push yourself and your professor to parlay the course material into real life situations, making sure you understand why it’s important, and how seemingly clean formulas and made-up scenarios might get messier and tougher when personalities and unpredictability and imperfection are very much in play.

And overall, relish in the fact that Olin creates an environment that encourages relationships over competition. The ability to collaborate well with others, not just how to “make do,” but to truly find ways to make a team more effective than the sum if its parts—that’s immensely important later on, so do your best to start flexing that muscle early and often.

Munir Mashooqullah

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.

In 2012, Munir Mashooqullah’s company was an acquisition target. For shareholders, the deal might have made sense: Mashooqullah, EMBA ’98, and an Olin Distinguished Alumnus, said the acquiring company had higher profit margins and better systems and IT infrastructure.

Even some of his employees thought the deal would be good for Synergies Worldwide, which manages apparel sourcing and supply chain management for the “fast fashion” industry. “Everyone was saying, ‘Why can’t you be more like them?’” said Mashooqullah, founder and custodian, Synergies Worldwide. “I lost people. I lost tactile monetary opportunities.”

Clients, however, didn’t like the deal. They liked their current service. They appreciated the value they received.

“There are stories in leadership where you do not go with what is told to you just because the numbers look right,” he said.

Today, the company Mashooqullah founded 31 years ago is thriving. In fact, a senior executive for the competitor jumped ship to become the CEO when Mashooqullah retired in 2016.

“If there is something you believe in— and you’re not just driven by the dollar sign—in retrospect, many times people win,” Mashooqullah said. “But at the time, it may not look right.”

Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation.

Part of a series of Q&As with Olin alumni. Today we hear from Shannon Turner, MBA ’18.

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

After graduating from Olin, I created the Maria Lida Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes economic development in Alausi, Ecuador, through tourism, education and training programs. Alausi is near and dear to my heart because it is where my father and his family lived before immigrating to the United States.

My time at Olin gave me tools and resources to pursue my dream of using my education to give back to my roots. I started my business school education with a passion for social entrepreneurship and Olin had many class opportunities in this space.

Olin also provided me with incredible experiential opportunities such as building my idea in classes, serving on the board of a local nonprofit organization, working on a consulting project for clients in Ecuador, and helping a local social enterprise grow. These opportunities helped be build the confidence and skill set to launch my own enterprise after graduating.

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

Olin’s introduction to entrepreneurship course with Cliff Holekamp influenced my career path the most. It was wonderful to connect with classmates over our passion for entrepreneurship and learn from entrepreneurs in the St. Louis community.

In this class, I was able to pitch my social venture idea, receive feedback, and work on a feasibility study to explore my idea with classmates. The advice and support I received from Cliff Holekamp were tremendous in helping me craft my social venture.

Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation. Shannon is on the left, front row.

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

The Olin community has been enormously supportive of my career path post-graduation. Last fall, I became a client for Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning International Impact Initiative. The CEL’s International Impact Initiative provides business school students with opportunities to work on consulting projects for global social enterprises.

Through this partnership, Olin MBA students helped the Maria Lida Foundation create business strategies for growth and were able to visit Alausi, Ecuador, to see the work Maria Lida Foundation is doing on the ground. This project would not have occurred without support from Daniel Bentle and Amy VanEssendelft, who are leaders in the CEL program (editor’s note: Daniel Bentle left Olin for another opportunity in mid-April).

As a result of this project, the Maria Lida Foundation received excellent recommendations on how to grow its operations. In addition, the CEL team’s faculty adviser (and my former professor), Hillary Anger Elfenbein, is now a member of Maria Lida Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Why is a business education important?

A business education is important because it gives you the skill set needed to successfully enter the business world. Before my time at Olin, I worked in the legal field for many years so it was incredibly helpful to learn the foundations of business through business school classes. It is also important because it provides you with many opportunities to expand your network, gain mentors, mentor others and learn from new experiences.

Shannon Turner in her family’s hometown of Alausi, Ecuador.

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

I would recommend that current Olin students focus their time and energy on things they are passionate about during their time in business school. Olin provides many opportunities for students to participate in various activities and events (something that makes Olin special).

However, you have limited time in business school, so I think it is helpful to spend your time on things that you enjoy. I’m very passionate about using business skills for social impact and entrepreneurship, so I spent time taking entrepreneurship courses, attending networking events for entrepreneurs, participating in social impact and entrepreneurship clubs, serving on a local nonprofit board, and applying to be on student consulting teams for social ventures.

These activities helped me to enjoy my time in business school, meet many people with similar interests, gain mentors, obtain skills, and prepare me for my post-MBA career.

Pictured at top: Olin CEL team working on the ground in Alausi, Ecuador for the Maria Lida Foundation. Shannon is in the red coat.