Alumni perspective: My Olin MBA experience, from Elise Miller Hoffman

  • April 26, 2024
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 3 minute read

As I look back on my journey through the Olin Business School MBA program, it's evident how much those years have sculpted my personal and professional life.

The variety of experiences offered by Olin has not only provided me with a solid foundation in business acumen but also instilled a global perspective that continues to influence my career decisions and worldview.

Elise Miller Hoffman, AB 2011/MBA 2016, named a WashU Olin emerging leader in 2021, contributed this reflection for the Olin Blog. 

Immersive learning experience

A cornerstone of my Olin experience was the focus on experiential learning. Transitioning from Spanish Literature and Latin American Studies to the business world marked a significant shift for me. A standout moment was participating in a consulting project for Universidad Central del Ecuador. Collaborating with the Olin Business School Center for Experiential Learning (CEL), our team devised strategies to transform the university into a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. This project not only enabled me to apply my educational background but also provided deep insights into the challenges and opportunities across various economic and regulatory landscapes. 

The CEL was instrumental in my growth, offering hands-on experiences with startup communities both locally and internationally. From conducting due diligence for a St. Louis-based startup accelerator to advising an electric bike company in Budapest, each project honed my consulting skills and expanded my business network. 

Additionally, I had the chance to engage in a CEL practicum project. This experience allowed me to contribute to the Global Cities Initiative, a $10 million, five-year endeavor sponsored by the Brookings Institution and JP Morgan. I advised leaders at the World Trade Center in St. Louis on enhancing the region’s export strategy. These engagements proved invaluable, teaching me the nuances of teamwork and strategic consulting across varied contexts.

Nurturing entrepreneurial spirit

My in-class experiences, especially in "The Hatchery," Olin's business-planning course, were transformative. Developing a business idea from conception to investor presentation was exhilarating, offering a comprehensive understanding of the entrepreneurial process and encouraging full exploration of our ideas. Continuing as a coach in this course has kept me connected to the university and allowed me to mentor the next generation of entrepreneurs, reinforcing the impact of Olin’s mentorship culture on my career trajectory. I enjoy encouraging students to think bigger and ask, "How could this be a billion-dollar idea?" 

Mentorship at Olin

MBA mentorship at Olin was a pivotal aspect of my journey. Professor Cliff Holekamp, a guiding light in the entrepreneurship program, played a significant role in shaping my path. His encouragement to explore post-MBA careers in startups and venture capital led to a job offer from Cultivation Capital, setting the stage for my venture into the business world.

Practical business acumen: Ready for the world

Reflecting on my time at Olin, it's clear how the program equipped me with the practical skills and strategic mindset necessary for success in the fast-paced world of startups. The plethora of consulting experiences, coupled with a rigorous academic curriculum, prepared me to navigate the complexities of the business landscape with confidence. 

My MBA experience at Olin Business School was a journey of personal and professional transformation. It was a period marked by challenging yet rewarding experiences that have shaped me into the business leader I am today.  

Elise Miller Hoffman is the chief operating officer at ImageMover and general partner at Cultivation Capital 

About the Author

Guest Blogger

Guest Blogger

From time to time we have professors, students, staff, alumni, or friends who are not regular contributors, but want to share something with the community. Be sure to look at the bottom of the post to see the author.

Contact Us

For assistance in finding faculty experts, please contact Washington University Public Affairs.

Monday–Friday, 8:30 to 5 p.m.

Sara Savat, Senior News Director, Business and Social Sciences


Kurt Greenbaum,
Communications Director

Twitter: WUSTLnews