Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Rick Desloge, Washington University (Olin)

Rick Desloge

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“A passionate, extroverted, resourceful, singing adventurer. Mostly optimistic; still a work in progress.”

Hometown: St. Louis, MO (Brooklyn, NY, for the last 10 years; does that makes me a New Yorker?)

Fun Fact About Yourself: My wife and I paid for our entire honeymoon with credit card reward points.

Undergraduate School and Major: Indiana University, Musical Theater

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Freelance actor, most recently seen in the national tour of Jersey Boys.

What has been your favorite part of St. Louis so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? St. Louisans like to say St. Louis is a “small town big city.” Coming back to St. Louis after having worked in both large and small geographies, this axiom really resonates. St. Louis has almost all the amenities of a big city: awesome professional sports, great (and free) cultural institutions, and good nightlife. At the same time, running into classmates in the Central West End or the Loop is commonplace and it doesn’t take more than 15 minutes to get anywhere. As a leading contributor to the cultural fabric of St. Louis, Olin Business School does a great job of leveraging its position to easily connect students with local leaders making a global impact on our world. Since returning home, I’ve rekindled past relationships while developing lasting and meaningful connections with my classmates, the Olin community and St. Louis at large. I’m fortunate to have such a rich social and professional network stimulated by such a great city.

You’ll be completing your global immersion next spring (Update: the class of ’23 is scheduled now to travel in fall ’22). What excites you most about this excursion overseas? Aside from the all-night parties, tapas, cava and ceviche, I’m really excited for the exposure to how local organizations navigate and thrive in the global economy. Experiencing how diverse cultures and economies influence the ways business is transacted is nearly impossible to replicate stateside, so I’m eager to be immersed in a new business environment.

That said, because Olin is fortunate to have a really diverse cohort of students, we’ve already begun working with colleagues from cultures different from our own. So while the public health crisis has necessitated postponing our travel overseas, collaborating with individuals with extremely varied life experiences is an everyday occurrence at Olin and has allowed me to expand my perspective.

Aside from your classmates, global immersion and location, what was the key part of the Olin MBA programming that led you to choose this business school, and why was it so important to you? As an MBA candidate with an incredibly non-traditional background, I knew that immersive opportunities inside firms navigating complex business challenges would accelerate my professional development. The Center for Experiential Learning was a really attractive component of Olin’s curriculum and has not disappointed. Through the CEL, I’ve already consulted on a project for a major regional theater and am working with a startup in San Francisco during the spring semester. Not only have I gained practical experience that has developed my quantitative acumen, I’ve recognized that my qualitative skills are an asset that I can leverage as a differentiator.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Olin? Competitive Industry Analysis is an irresistible blend of macro-level strategy and economics. As an extremely competitive person, exploring how firms attempt to manipulate and change the incentives of their competitors (while simultaneously beholden to their own incentives) is sincerely fun. The class is fast-paced, energetic, and small so every case has a spirited discussion. Moreover, the material and assignments are present-day and accessible. For example, our last problem set was an analysis of the recently folded European Super League.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: While I’ve had some highly visible successes working on stage—playing Frankie Valli in Jersey Boys, Boq in Wicked, or Quasimodo in Hunchback—the accomplishment I’m most proud of took place behind the scenes. While working in Los Angeles, I produced a benefit performance of The Rocky Horror Show at the historic Fonda Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. In one night, our company raised over $50,000 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and helped countless individuals obtain critically needed services. In spearheading the production, I helped connect some of Broadway’s most talented artists with an exuberant audience of more than 1,000. I’ll never forget the incredible energy of the performance, and I credit the strategic, creative and intellectual thinking necessary to realize the event with laying the groundwork that led me to pursue an MBA at Olin.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Although our classes at Olin started only several months ago, I’m already thinking about the world in a more empathetic, nuanced and structured capacity. This experience has helped fast-track my ability to make confident and measured decisions. It’s forced me become a better listener through inquiring and learning new perspectives. I’m thinking more strategically and taking decisive actions as I move through the world. The accumulation of these qualities is my biggest accomplishment so far.

What has been your best memory as an MBA student so far: We had an unusually warm day a couple weeks ago, so a teammate and I decided to grab our computers and work outside. Over the course of the hour, our conversation shifted to other topics—life, aspirations, dreams, etc.and my colleague paid me a huge compliment, expressing their appreciation for my contributions to our Olin community and their desire to work together professionally if the opportunity arises. As one who has experienced a fair degree of imposter syndrome studying something completely new, receiving this feedback was incredibly affirming. I thought to myself, “If this intelligent and driven individual whom I admire so much thinks I belong here, maybe I actually do …” To be outside, talking about life, on a beautiful day, surrounded by tomorrow’s promising leaders may sound trivial, but it’s these tiny moments that punctuate my experience at Olin and inspire me to continue making daily incremental improvements.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Olin MBA program? At its core, an MBA is a very practical degree, so gaining admission at any competitive program requires a thoughtful reflection that considers how the specific programming at a school can accelerate a career trajectory. Of course, every applicant will find unique components attractive for different reasons. I’d suggest potential applicants at Olin (or any MBA program) express their passion for the program’s differentiators that they find most attractive in their admissions essays. Highlight how these specific mechanisms can be leveraged to create a favorable career outcome that increases the profile of both the school and the applicant. For example, during the application process, I connected with several current students who stressed Washington University’s informal initiative to be an institution not only in St. Louis, but also for St. Louis. Having grown up here, our region’s lasting advancement is an important cause to me. I emphasized this passion in my application to Olin and underscored how vital it was to earn an MBA while contributing not only to the Olin community, but also to St. Louis.


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