The roots of executive education run deep in St.
Louis and in Washington, DC, at our partner, The Brookings Institution. They’re
about to run deeper.
In St. Louis, our expertise in executive education runs back at least to
1955, when Lee M. Liberman wrote to a colleague about a faculty-led management
seminar he’d attended as a 34-year-old. Liberman later served four decades on the
WashU’s board of trustees alongside two chancellors.
Also, in the late ’50s, Brookings launched two-week conferences aimed at
“men of high caliber at the executive level,” according to a journal writeup at
the time. Jointly, Olin and Brookings have partnered for years on leadership and management education in DC,
taught by Olin faculty.
Although we’re already highly ranked globally for executive education—12th in the
nation and 32nd worldwide, according to the Financial Times—we know we can lead further on the strengths we
Leveraging our unique partnership with Brookings, we’ve created a joint organization
that deeply entwines Olin’s research-based leadership in executive education
with the global policy and economic expertise at the world’s premier
think-tank. We’ve already rebranded the existing program as WashU at Brookings. We envision the
relationship growing further still.
“The leaders of
the future need to be able to navigate a set of questions that Brookings brings
to the table,” said Kelly Bean, senior associate dean and the Charles F. Knight
Distinguished Director of Executive Education at WashU Olin. Based at
Brookings, commuting between DC and St. Louis, she is charged with unifying and
expanding executive education operations in both locations.
As Kelly sees it, Brookings sits at the nexus of business, governmental
policy and social impact. “That’s the sweet spot where
we want to be able to help leaders in their organizations: How can that
integration impact their own organizations?”
At the same
time, our St. Louis-based operation continues to draw business from corporate partners
eager for access to our expertise on leadership development, change management
and strategic alignment our faculty experts can provide. Sam Chun, assistant dean and director
of executive education, is about to depart for the Netherlands, for example, to
begin delivering Olin’s first international exec ed program in leadership
development for Rabobank, a Dutch multinational financial services firm.
Other new partners for Olin exec ed include distribution
service provider Bunzl Distribution, pharmaceutical maker Pfizer, and AB
InBev—which was attracted by the closer connection and program potential of our
Brookings relationship. “We’re
designing the program with AB InBev as we speak,” Sam said.
“That’s key,” Sam says. We don’t simply build
programs and hope executives show up in the classroom. “We ask the market and design a program for them.
And because of that, they come.”
With a deeper connection to Brookings, we anticipate DC-based policy experts leading
courses for executives in St. Louis, with content delivered either in person or
through our Center for Digital Education. Likewise, we see a world with expanded
content from Olin faculty in St. Louis offered to executives in the DC area.
align deeply with Olin’s own DNA, focused as we are on values-based,
data-driven decision-making in a global context and equipping leaders with the
tools to change the world, for good. It’s just a bonus that the nation’s top CEOs,
through the influential Business Roundtable, are coming around to our way of
thinking about executive leadership.
“I think the historical connection between
Brookings and WashU makes this so effective,” Kelly said.
Our focus on
executive education isn’t new, but it’s more important today than ever. We all
thrive when, as Olin deans realized decades ago, we serve the needs of
corporate partners, bringing the latest business research into the boardroom. It
also remains an important part of Olin’s mission of lifelong learning.
It’s the future
of executive education—and WashU Olin is leading the way.
Pictured above: An Olin-led executive education class
underway at Brookings in our newly expanded space.