Ready to rumble: MBA student leaders form strategic plan

  • June 25, 2018
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

Angela Lu, MBA 2019, is president of the Graduate Business Student Association and wrote this on behalf of the organization.

Angela Lu, MBA ’19
Angela Lu, MBA 2019

Is there a hashtag for B-school ironies yet? You know, for that moment when you look around the room and say, “We’re business school students. Should we be better at this?”

Like when we put out a survey to solicit peer feedback…only to realize we have no idea how to boost participation rates, nor can we make much sense of the data we gather. How do we come up with actionable insights again?

So this time, we decided to do better. This year, Graduate Business Student Association had a transitional strategy planning session. We wanted to take a look at our mission and think carefully about how we can best achieve what we want to achieve within the limited year we have.

Together, members of GBSA leadership established three goals to guide our decisions and efforts for the 2018-2019 academic year.

Increase Olin Pride

Yeah, yeah, we know—Olin isn’t HBS, and St. Louis isn’t as sexy as New York. We’re pushing that inferiority complex to the side, and that’s not just cheerleading pep talk. The students who come to Olin Business School at the Washington University in St Louis are smart, passionate, and hard-working—and we’ll leave our own marks on the world, thank you very much!

It’s time we recognized our achievements for what they are; it’s time we gave ourselves some credit for how much we have already and will continue to contribute. We’re from Olin—not just WashU St. Louis—and we’re proud of the school we call home.

Did you know about Olin coming in third place for Notre Dame’s MBA Tech Innovation Challenge this year, beating out Cornell, Dartmouth and NYU? You’ll hear about that and more in the coming year, because we’re going to start becoming better at that #humblebrag!

Increase Connectivity

No, the Wi-Fi’s working fine. The network we care about is beyond virtual. It’s the real deal, with flesh and bones. In business school, we can’t escape talk about “networks”—the strength of our alumni network, complaints about the necessity of networking, bemoaning the lack of networking skills…it goes on and on.

If we do not capture the full value of being part of an in-person MBA program that allows us to physically meet and work with classmates from very different backgrounds than our own, we would have failed to take advantage of one of the most precious opportunities we’re paying for.

Increasing connectivity is about making sure we, as a school, truly get to know each other. That we maintain the momentum of curiosity and the appetite for discovery that we all had in the first few days of orientation, before everyone’s faces became familiar and everyone’s names known.

In both social and professional events, we want to be conscientiously including perspectives from our diverse student body. This means proactively including more child-friendly activities into our social programming, so our classmates with families can feel truly welcome to bring everyone along.

It means making sure we not only include vegetarian and allergy-free options in our catering choices, but that we label sensitive ingredients properly and consistently so our classmates can enjoy themselves without worrying about what they’re consuming.

Becoming more connected makes business sense: only when we make the most of the diversity that exists within our program do we become a truly inclusive and supportive community.

Increase Accountability

B-school is about making choices. It’s about forming clear priorities—personally and professionally—and taking actions in alignment with what’s important to us. Being busy, however, is never an acceptable excuse for being flaky.

We know almost all classmates share in our collective exasperation that some students will RSVP for events and not show up (or not RSVP, but show up for the food and beverage). How? Because we all talk about it and acknowledge that it is a problem. Therefore, we believe we would all benefit from being held more accountable for our conduct and commitments.

To this end, we will implement stricter adherence for RSVP policies and deadlines, as well as develop comfort around having tough conversations with those who do not meet agreed-upon expectations. We’re not saying this is comfortable, but we can guarantee that these will be highly valuable transferrable skills—well worth the investment.

About the Author

Washington University in Saint Louis

WashU Olin Business School

Firmly established at the Gateway to the West, Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis stands as the gateway to something far grander in scale. The education we deliver prepares our students to thoughtfully make difficult decisions—the kind that can change the world.

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