WashU Olin
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WashU Olin Business School: Preparing aspiring business leaders for a data-driven world

Businesses grow when data is used strategically — that is a fact WashU Olin Business School knows best. Here, WashU Olin nurtures an entrepreneurial spirit in aspiring business leaders to help them evolve into innovative thinkers capable of creating impact in startups, the corporate world or non-profits.

This is precisely what Buddy Foster from Atlanta, Georgia, had in mind when he decided to pursue WashU Olin’s Full-Time MBA. “I chose Olin because of the emphasis it places on entrepreneurial thinking and a global mindset influenced by value-based, data-driven decision-making,” shares Foster. “Every company wants people who operate with a global entrepreneur mindset and have a strong value set they’re pursuing through data.”

To champion a better relationship between business and humanity, WashU Olin’s Full-Time MBA enables students to take on projects with the Center for Experiential Learning (CEL) and Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurial Studies. In this, learners get the chance to help nonprofits, companies and startups by creating smart solutions to their management challenges.

In the classroom, WashU Olin kicks off its MBA programme with a module that exposes students to the Values Based, Data Driven approach. This entails students using predictive and prescriptive analytics tools to understand a business problem whilst considering values. With this data, they forecast decision outcomes and make necessary decisions to match — which MBA students like Cherise Brookes appreciate.

“It’s important to have an opinion, and that will be backed by your values,” Brookes explains. “It’s also important to utilise data to support your values because data could show a different picture and push you to change your perspective. I like the fact that we had a course that showed us that you have values, but we need to back it by data and understand where those two things intersect.”

Brookes is excited to take the Hatchery course too. “You get a chance to literally build a company during it, which I think is an amazing opportunity,” she says. “And we’re surrounded by so many really cool faculty. Professor Villhard has spoken to me about my business idea, and he’s really excited about it. I’m just excited to be here in this space where I can utilise all the resources to hopefully start my company.”

With such a well-rounded structure, it’s little wonder why WashU Olin has dominated the Poets & Quants ranking of MBA entrepreneurship programmes for three consecutive years. The Full-Time MBA programme also ranks among the top 20 MBA programmes in the world and places 15th in the United States, according to the Economist’s 2022 “Which MBA?” ranking.

Rankings played a major role in Foster’s decision to enroll into the programme. “I remember one thing that really stood out to me was Poets & Quants ranking for Olin as the number one entrepreneurial school in the country for three years running – and that’s a really, really big deal,” shares Foster.

WashU Olin’s BIG IdeaBounce is an elevator pitch contest where students can pitch their business ideas. Source: WashU Olin Business School
©Photo by Jerry Naunheim Jr.

Fostering an entrepreneurial mindset

WashU Olin offers over two dozen classes dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship — including the acclaimed Hatchery course, which launched companies that have amassed a combined profit of US$87 million since 2008.

Meanwhile, those with clear business ideas in mind bring them to life with BIG IdeaBounce® This elevator pitch contest awards up to US$15,000 in prize money and is open to all business students at WashU Olin and beyond. Last year, the business school partnered with Poets & Quants to take the BIG IdeaBounce® global — and it was a success. Over 150 teams from 90 universities in 13 countries submitted their business ideas, with the winning team being awarded a $50,000 USD check.

It’s little wonder why a WashU Olin classroom is brimming with discussion. The business school embraces small class sizes to ensure every voice is heard. Pair this with a research-active faculty, and learners are sure to enjoy a personalised learning experience alongside professionals with nuanced comprehension of current business trends.

The same enriching journey is promised to those who opt to pursue WashU Olin’s option for a STEM MBA or STEM-designated dual degree in analytics, finance, or supply chain management instead.

Click here to take your pick today.

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