Fab Girl: Candace Armour, MBA ’14, BSME ’14
Candace Armour’s father, a sheet metal worker in Chicago who founded his own construction restoration business, inspired her to be an entrepreneur. The consortium created a family environment that supported the young MBA prospect.
“I was about 22,” Armour says. “The median age for Consortium students was around 28. With the consortium, it was helpful preparing and developing more confidence speaking with different firms.”
A rarity among MBA students these days, Armour earned her MBA while finishing her bachelor’s degree in engineering at Washington University, combining both into five years.
“When I saw WashU, I literally fell in love,” Armour says. “I really wanted to pursue what I was passionate about: Business is in my nature, and I’m very entrepreneurial-minded and -spirited.”
That spirit led her to launch her first startup, Fancy Extensions, in her first year at Olin. After a three-year post-MBA career at Accenture as senior digital marketing analyst, Armour left to pursue what started as her side hustle: Epic Fab Girl, a lifestyle blog for career-minded women. Since leaving Accenture, she also launched Candace Junée Consulting, her Chicago-based brand consulting firm.
Through her consulting firm, Armour provides one-on-one consulting to help brands turn ideas into profitable businesses. And at Epic Fab Girl, she runs events, hosts webinars and organizes conferences to support women who are working on building their own businesses. She sees Epic Fab Girl as her way to support herself while nurturing other women — just as the consortium nurtured her.
“It was pretty valuable to me,” she says. “It reminded me of family because it reminded me that you’re not alone.”
Social Impact: Alaina Flowers, MBA ’15
A desire for a career at the intersection of business and social impact drove Alaina Flowers to Washington University. Her experience propelled her to a dream job.
As diversity and inclusion strategist for San Francisco–based Inclusion Ventures, Flowers works for an organization that counsels, coaches and consults with businesses about how to value and maximize diversity and inclusion in their organizations. It’s a role she knew she was equipped for after serving as president of the Olin Business School diversity council during year two of her MBA education.
“My post-MBA path was heavily influenced by my MBA experience,” Flowers says. “The council worked with (former) Dean (Mahendra) Gupta and other faculty and staff members to help them understand some of the issues the school was facing with regard to diversity and inclusion.”
That work came from a place of love: Washington University was Flowers’ first choice for business school because of its reputation for entrepreneurship education — and social entrepreneurship in particular. But without the consortium, it might not have happened at all.
Flowers first heard about the consortium from a classmate at Wayne State University in Detroit where she was a business major. She filed the information away for the right moment.
“Applying to the consortium was a no-brainer,” she says. “The consortium played a role in my career advancement. It inspired me to make an impact as a student to advance diversity and inclusion at Olin, which was a major factor in my decision to pursue my current career path.”
Fraud Finder: Kelly-Ann Henry, MBA ’00
Kelly-Ann Henry is an army of one who wields her love of numbers in a war on fraud.
As Toyota Financial Services’ first-ever enterprise fraud consultant — a new role in the organization — Henry is applying her passion for accounting to a new career challenge.
Henry’s passion was sparked soon after undergraduate school as she worked at an accounting firm in Atlanta. There, she worked for two consortium alumni, Indiana University MBAs who turned her on to an organization that could fund her own business degree and create connections in corporate America.
Henry knew she wanted her MBA, but took a side trip through a nine-month Coro Fellowship in St. Louis to build more experience. Then, when former Olin Dean Robert Virgil met her, he talked up WashU and the advantages of a smaller business school program — eventually persuading Henry to apply.
Being part of WashU and the consortium made her “realize how many people have a vested interest in your success,” she says. “They don’t want anything more than to have you succeed. Someone is always helping you get there.”
She parlayed her accounting savvy and management swagger at Washington University to a post-MBA career at Toyota in corporate finance, where today Henry is building an organization designed to root out internal corporate cheaters. She cites the example of corporate grifters who set up fake vendors and skim away the supposed revenue. As the first in the department, she’s establishing a company-wide fraud prevention program.
“What drives this is trying to understand how it happens,” Henry says. “I’ll definitely get to where our money is, but I also like to know how it happens.”
Further Beyond: Leroy Nunery, MBA ’79
He thought he wanted to be a lawyer.
But when the doors never opened for Leroy Nunery — law schools turned him down or waitlisted him — a visitor to Lafayette College, where Nunery attended, offered him another path. Ever think about business school? At Washington University in St. Louis?
And have you ever heard of the consortium for Graduate Study in Management?
“I credit him for laying that out,” Nunery says. “He was someone who saw something in me that would be a really good match. That’s what got me to apply.”
Forty years later, after a career in banking, human resources and operations, Nunery runs Plūs Ultré LLC — Latin for “further beyond” — his Philadelphia-based education management consulting firm.
Nunery’s specialty: Helping educational organizations “fix things that are broken.” He’s counseled and advised school boards, served three stints as an interim charter school CEO and implemented top-to-bottom reorganizations for school districts.
The education bug bit him after working at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Every kid should have access to a great education, but they also need practical experience,” he says. “They need to know how to do things, not just get an education for the sake of it.”
For his commitment, the consortium recognized Nunery in 2012 with its Wallace L. Jones Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, named for the organization’s second leader.
“If you get this opportunity to study at any of the best universities, you have to have an ulterior motive and concern: To do well by doing good,” he says. “You owe it to others to reach back.”
Freestyle: Chandra Stephens-Albright, MBA ’87
Chandra Stephens-Albright came to fully realize her father’s standing in the world of nonprofit fundraising during his two-year bout with pancreatic cancer. During his career, Charles Stephens held senior development roles for several colleges and universities, and he also served as national campaign director for the United Negro College Fund.
She didn’t know it at the time, but fundraising was a field she would one day learn very well herself, using every skill she acquired at Olin Business School and her contacts as a consortium fellow.
That transition was yet to happen. Her career at Coca-Cola was still humming after helping develop and launch the groundbreaking Coca-Cola Freestyle beverage dispenser in 2009.
But four years later, her job was cut — on a Monday. And on the following Thursday, her father died. “That kind of shut me down,” she says. “But then, I decided I like to raise money too. It’s in my heart.”
That passion and a little happenstance led her to the C5 Georgia as executive director, where she flexed her fundraising muscles. C5 works with cohorts of high-potential students from risky environments to build leadership and life skills. They target students that face barriers to graduating from high school and entering college..
After three years building C5’s individual giving network, increasing foundation support and establishing its first break-even budget, Stephens-Albright was ready for a new chapter. Less than a month after resigning, she took the reins as managing director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta.
“Coca-Cola was great, but C5 was amazing,” she says, reflecting on her previous posts. “Being a part of helping young people overcome adversity with poise and grace and determination is beyond rewarding. A C5 alumnus was just accepted at Goizeuta [Emory University’s business school]!”