Student Engagement

Family throughout Olin’s curriculum

Family business analysis is woven throughout Olin’s curriculum. In no place is that more obvious than in the global immersion of Olin’s Full-Time MBA Program, Poets & Quants 2020 Program of the Year. Central to the Olin Full-Time MBA global immersion experience is an immersive engagement with family-owned cava producers in the Barcelona region looking to grow and innovate their offering. Across a weeklong experiential sprint with these clients, the teams are challenged to formalize strategic recommendations for the family owners.

Beyond the embedded, family-focused cases in the curriculum, family enterprises are at times spotlighted within experiential classroom learning. For example, students in Olin’s Talent Analytics course engaged in spring 2021 with MedWise, the urgent care spin-off of family-owned QuikTrip. This effort was supported by its chief medical officer and Olin EMBA alum, Patrick Aguilar.

WashU Olin offers three specific courses targeted to family and private enterprise that focus on the family business with even greater precision:

Family-Specific Curriculum

Ownership Insights: The Competitive Advantage of Family- and Employee-Owned Firms

Led by Executive in Residence Spencer Burke, this course introduces students to the unique governance and finance issues faced by owners of closely held and family-controlled businesses. The core issue addressed in this course is sustainability. Specifically, what actions are required of the current owners to increase the likelihood that the business will last beyond them? What best practices can we learn from successful multigenerational and employee-owned firms, some of which have been in existence for 150 years or more?

This course engages with leaders within and outside the community, with several speakers from previous years identified below:




Small Business Initiative

The Small Business Initiative (SBI) in WashU Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) works with undergraduate students in the business school and across the university campus to advise small organizations throughout the region. Due to the propensity of family ownership in small firms, many of these engagements are with family-owned operations. In winter 2020, three previous SBI clients were selected into the University of Missouri-St. Louis Diverse Business Accelerator.

Examples of recent projects are listed below:

If you’re interested in working with the center and student teams on a free-of-charge consulting engagement—and your business generates under $10M of revenue—please contact Peter Boumgarden at, and he’ll connect you with the appropriate contact in the CEL.

Acquisition Entrepreneurship

Launched in 2021, the Acquisition Entrepreneurship course explores the role of buying a company—family led or otherwise—and growing it moving forward. Given the number of baby boomers who lack a plan for succession in their core operation, this course prepares students to understand the value creation of existing processes and consider the possibility of becoming an entrepreneur by leading these companies into the next generation.

Experiential Learning Engagement—Family Business or Family Office Structures

A group of women in business attire, giving a presentation.

The Practicum program in WashU Olin’s Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) generates student-led and faculty-advised strategic engagements with companies within the region and around the globe. In partnership with the Koch Center, many of these organizations are family-owned or family-led organizations. Listed below are a subset of those engagements.

If you’re interested in working with the center and student teams on a paid consulting engagement or as a part of center membership, please get in touch with Peter Boumgarden at, and he’ll connect you with the appropriate contact in the CEL.



Family Business Club

Photo of Olin Full-Time MBA students at the "Careers in Private and Family Enterprise" event
Photo of Olin Full-Time MBA students, classes of 2022 and 2023, at the “Careers in Private and Family Enterprise” event in July 2021. Photo by Alex Haimann.

Olin’s student-led Family Business Club engages students across WashU to more holistically understand family enterprise with a mix of cocurricular events.

As an example, the student club hosts the Family Business Lunch and Learn Series, four informal events during the year that feature practitioners in family businesses or firms that serve their needs.

These programs—developed for students and by students with funding support from the Family Enterprise Center—include topics like M&A issues for family businesses, insights from family members within a family business and contrasting insights from nonfamily members who serve in leadership roles at these enterprises.

July 8, 2021 | “Careers in Family and Private Enterprise”

Moderator/Interviewer: Peter Boumgarden


  • Stacey Kamps, Koch Development
  • Chris Hoffmann, Hoffmann Brothers
  • Micah Northcutt, Hoffmann Brothers
  • John Stupp III, Stupp Bros. Inc.

March 10, 2020 | “Succession Planning: Where Do I Start? What Are My Options?”

Moderator/Interviewer: Mike DeCola, former CEO, HBM Holdings


  • Bob Dunaway, Aerofil Technology
  • Bruce Holland, Holland Construction Services
  • Chris Hoffmann, Hoffmann Brothers

Listen to the post-event interview with Mike DeCola and panelists.