​Leadership Perspectives

WashU Olin’s Leadership Perspectives Series has connected audiences with leaders from all types of organizations for more than 35 years. Hear highly regarded business leaders and influential academics speak about today’s most relevant topics and trends. Take the opportunity to strengthen your ties to the Olin community, develop partnerships, and stay informed.

Upcoming Events

Leadership Perspectives Summaries and Videos

Grow your own way

Wednesday, September 29, 2021, noon to 1 p.m. CT
WashU Olin alumnus Andrew Rubin, BSBA '98, CEO and cofounder of Illumio, a hypergrowth late-stage cybersecurity company joins Olin marketing and entrepreneurship professor Michael Wall for a conversation that touches on how to manage the collision of data-driven strategy with the ever-present need to deliver value, building and marketing a differentiated product offering, and how to systematically encourage and motivate employees during this tidal shift in workplace expectations.

Registrants check your email for Zoom link to join the Sept. 29 webinar . If Zoom capacity is reached, an overflow livestream will be available on YouTube as embedded below.

Reality Bytes: The real story on women and leadership in the tech space

Thursday, September 9, 2021 2:30 PM CDT
There are two truisms about the tech field. One is constant change; the other is it's a man's world. Women make up about 25% of all IT employees, a seemingly low number except for the fact that it's been steadily growing over the past decade. So what's the secret for women to break into tech-related business? How can they be successful? And what leadership skills will keep them at the top?

WashU Olin welcomes Lisa Nichols, CEO and cofounder of Technology Partners, a provider of premier IT staffing, solutions and software. She also hosts the interview podcast Something Extra, which shines a light on each guest's distinct leadership qualities. Nichols will sit down with communications professor Staci Thomas for a conversation that touches on many aspects of business in the technology space, including female representation (or, more appropriate, the lack thereof), innovation, entrepreneurship and values-driven leadership.

Reflections on Leadership: A conversation with Dean Mark P. Taylor & General John R. Allen

Wednesday, April 7, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
Shakespeare said, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” This gets to the heart of the question: What makes a great leader? For insights on the subject, we’re bringing together two acclaimed leaders to reflect on what constitutes greatness, their leadership philosophies and the importance of considering both data and values in decision-making. WashU Olin’s Dean Mark P. Taylor and The Brookings Institution’s General John R. Allen will share stories and observations from their long and distinguished careers in a conversation that, between the two, will cover leadership in business, academia, government and the military.

Leadership Perspectives: She Suite

Monday, March 8, 2021 4:00 PM CST
For International Women’s Day, WashU Olin is proud to celebrate the successes of professional women who have faced challenges and made an impact. This year’s impressive panel exemplifies the talent, drive and leadership women bring to the workplace. Building on the IWD’s #ChoosetoChallenge theme, the panel will share stories, lessons learned, business philosophies and how their values have impacted their decision-making. Join us for this engaging event that lifts up women and honors their accomplishments.

Culture, Character and Communication: Today’s Global Leader

Wednesday, February 3, 2021 12:00–1:30 PM CST
WashU Olin alumna Lori Lee and Professor Samuel Chun discuss many facets of global leadership in an interconnected world: the necessity of understanding culture in international business, the impact of disruption in the communications industry and how to combat racial inequities around the world.

6 Executives. 60 Ideas. 60 Minutes.

Thursday, January 28, 2021 12:00–1:15 PM CST
This fast-paced panel gives successful business leaders the opportunity to boil down their philosophies and insights to a few choice words. Each panelist has 10 minutes to share 10 thoughts that have helped them achieve success in their careers.

Driving an Entrepreneurial Spirit in Any Organization

November 10, 2020, 12:00 - 1:30 PM CST
You often hear about entrepreneurs, but what about intrapreneurs—those people who push innovating thinking inside an established organization? What’s the overlap between entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, and how do the two differ? With the rate of change in today’s world, this kind of forward thinking isn’t just valuable, it’s indispensable. Join WashU Olin business pioneer and alum Carl Casale for a dynamic discussion with Doug Villhard, a serial entrepreneur and the school’s resident expert on entrepreneurship. You’ll take away great ideas on how to tap into an entrepreneurial spirit to advance your career—whether you’re helming a startup, firmly entrenched in corporate America or somewhere in between.

Active Inclusion: More Than a Seat at the Table

October 27, 2020, 12:00 - 1:30 PM CST
Diversity, equity, inclusion. Over the past months, DEI has become a top priority in many organizations. Olin alum Joyce Trimuel, career strategist and professional speaker, discusses the importance of active inclusion and how it extends well beyond representation. She’ll address our collective and individual responsibility in creating an inclusive culture and the downside of not doing this important work.

Human Capital-AI and the future of human-machine collaboration

October 15, 2020
The two founders of Ai4—Marcus Jecklin and Michael Weiss—are on a mission to help provide a common framework for what AI means to both enterprise and the future as we transition into a new era of responsible human-machine collaboration. Moderated by Peter Boumgarden

Leading during COVID-19

September 29, 2020
Around the world, this year has been unlike any other in modern history, and universities are no exception. From an abrupt campus shutdown to unplanned virtual course delivery to transitioning to a remote workforce to the suspension of elective surgeries, WashU has rapidly responded to the impact of COVID-19. Through it all, the guiding principle has been the safety, health and well-being of the university community. Chancellor Andrew Martin and Dr. Steven Lawrence, infectious disease expert from the School of Medicine, share their approach on leading through a global pandemic and thoughts about what's on the horizon.

She Suite 2020

March 6, 2020
In honor of International Women's Day, WashU Olin celebrates the successes of professional women who have risen to the top of their respective organizations. They are entrepreneurs, corporate executives and thought leaders. They are innovators, disruptors and visionaries. Most importantly, they are role models, mentors and lifelong learners. The dynamic panel shares stories, lessons learned, business philosophies, and how their values have impacted their decision-making. This program was presented by Ruthie Pyles Stiffler, Associate Dean and Director for Graduate Programs Admissions. Participants included Staci Thomas, Lecturer in Communication and Interim Director of MCC; Jennifer Fuller, BSBA '03, Managing Director, Fintech & Financial Services Investment Banking, KBW; Cheryl Jones, President and CEO, Girls Incorporated of St. Louis; Merry Mosbacher, MBA '82, Principal, Edward Jones (retired); and Amanda Signorelli, BSBA '13, Founder, The Leafist and Owner, Golden Steer Steakhouse.

What the tech?

February 12, 2020
It’s quite a journey from MBA student to CEO. After 40 years in the tech world, Quorum President and CEO Gene Austin has a lot to share about his career, including his top 10 lessons learned along the way. Austin shared what it’s like to run fast-growing—and not-so-fast-growing—tech businesses and about the strategies and skills necessary to lead three uniquely different companies.

6 executives. 60 ideas. 60 minutes.

January 30, 2020
Hire people smarter than you. Be grateful. Sleep on every big decision. Remember to say thank you. Great leaders can boil down their philosophies to a few choice words. In this special event, we brought 6 St. Louis leaders to WashU Olin to share their top ten great "ideas" for leadership.

Got Algorithm?

January 22, 2020
The words “machine learning” are more than the latest business buzz words. If you’re not tapping into the power of big data analytics, you’re already behind the curve. Washington University’s Professor Seethu Seetharaman discusses how to harness big data and machine learning to drive business forward. He examines how machine learning algorithms can predict product sales and compares machine learning approaches with traditional marketing mix models.

Do What You Love
November 5, 2019

What’s the key to loving your work? It starts with understanding yourself and knowing what makes you happy. With that, you’re in a position to help others and make a difference in their lives. Brent Sobol, president and founder of Legacy Community Housing Corporation and a specialist in multifamily apartment turnaround and crime prevention, shares his personal story about transforming communities and turning housing into homes.

The Good, the Bad and the Bottom Line

October 29, 2019

Both ethics and productivity affect an organization’s bottom line. But managers view them separately when designing policy. Firms implement intrusive surveillance systems then are surprised when morale and productivity slump. Managers set sales quotas then are shocked at what employees will do to meet them.

Olin expert Lamar Pierce brought to light the key drivers of productivity and misconduct and shared ways managers can create more holistic solutions to jointly address both.

Learning from Failure - Recovering Your Way to Success

September 11, 2019
How do you recover from failure? What lessons will carry you toward your next success? A panel of WashU Olin alumni and faculty shared personal stories of failure to explore how the experience shaped their values and helped them find a new path to success. Moderated by Dedric Carter, WashU Vice Chancellor for Operations and Tech Transfer, the panel included Lisa Hu (PMBA ’16), Founder and Owner, Lux and Nyx; Mark Pydynowski (BSBA ’04), Entrepreneur; former Senior Director of Product, Experian; and Doug Villhard (EMBA ’14), Professor of Practice in Entrepreneurship.

The She Suite

March 8, 2019
A standing room-only crowd of enthusiastic visitors—along with another 140 by live stream—attended WashU Olin’s second annual “She Suite” event commemorating International Women’s Day. The panel, moderated by Linda Haberstroh, EMBA ’10, president of Phoenix Textile Corporation, also included Ratna Craig, EMBA ’11, account executive at Slalom Consulting; WashU Olin Professor Hillary Anger Elfenbein; Vicki Felker, EMBA ’12, vice president and general manager, Golden Products Division, Nestlé Purina; and Valerie Toothman, BSBME/BSAS ’01, MBA ’08, executive vice president for brand and beverage marketing at Drinkworks. Read more on OlinBlog.

6 executives. 60 ideas. 60 minutes.

January 31, 2019

Hire people smarter than you. Be grateful. Sleep on every big decision. Remember to say thank you. Great leaders can boil down their philosophies to a few choice words. In an exciting hour overflowing with ideas, we brought together a diverse panel of six business leaders for a lightning round of leadership insights. Each panelist had 10 minutes to share 10 thoughts that have helped them achieve success in their careers.

  • Carla Bailey, Senior Manager of Learning and Organizational Development, Washington University in St. Louis
  • Adrian E. Bracy, CEO, YWCA Metro St. Louis
  • Steve Degnan, Chief HR Officer, Nestlé Purina
  • Dana Lorberg, Executive Vice President, Mastercard
  • Lisa Nichols, CEO, Technology Partners
  • Rebecca L. Saunders, Founder & Chief Marketing Officer, Amplifey Health

Big Data, Big Rewards: Using Data to Understand Customer Behavior

January 16, 2019
Big data is a big deal in business today. The amount of information available to organizations is staggering. But having data and understanding data are very different things—not to mention knowing how to maximize the data to achieve results. When are customers most likely to buy your product? When they buy one product, are they more likely to buy another? How can you most effectively use consumer data to drive customer loyalty? WashU Olin professor Seethu Seetharaman and Olin alumna Bridget Blaise-Shamai, vice president of customer insights and loyalty and president of the AAdvantage Program at American Airlines, discussed big data, machine-based learning, and loyalty marketing.

Risky Business: Logistics in Today's Global Environment

January 15, 2019
In today’s complex business landscape, an organization’s logistics play a key role in its success. What supply chain challenges do companies face in an increasingly global environment? What forces are at play when leaders make strategic and tactical supply chain management decisions? How can company logistics keep pace with the rapid rate of change in the world? What risks result from an increasing reliance on technology? Andrew Clarke, chief financial officer of C.H. Robinson, shared his insights on how his organization helps clients navigate their most pressing supply chain challenges. From volatility in supply chain pricing to access to capacity to the impact of tariffs on the bottom line, Clarke touched on current trends and key concerns that organizations must consider in a world where disruption is the new normal.

The Promise and Peril of Purpose at Work

December 6, 2018

Who among your workplace colleagues is the hardest worker, the most committed, the most valuable? Is it the well-paid person? The one who bonds with teammates? Or is it, instead, the one who views work with a sense of purpose and passion? Stuart Bunderson reviewed surprising research on how "work as a calling" influences motivation and commitment among today's workers, who demand to know that their work matters. At the same time, hose workers present unique challenges for leaders as they confront employees' values and serve all their constituents. Stuart Bunderson, director of Olin Business School's Bauer Leadership Center and professor of organizational ethics and governance presented this Leadership Perspectives session in Washington, DC.