2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Amy Guthrey, Washington University (Olin)

Amy Guthrey

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

Age: 36

Driven, community-minded leader committed to building, developing and growing.”

Hometown:  Jefferson City, Missouri

Family Members: My husband, James, and I have two children—Stella, an imaginative 6-year-old, and Louis, a curious 4-year-old.

Fun fact about yourself: While I have studied, lived and worked in cities worldwide, true to my Midwest roots, my favorite memories are of growing up working cattle on the family farm.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Certified Regulatory and Compliance Professional Program, 2015

University of Central Missouri (UCM)

BS in Business Administration, Major: Finance, 2007

  • Summa Cum Laude; UCM Overall GPA 4.0
  • UCM, Harmon College of Business Graduate of the Year

Where are you currently working? I am currently a vice president at Burch & Company, Inc., a middle-market M&A broker-dealer, where I am responsible for directing operational functions. My experience and leadership have been focused on designing, implementing and executing business strategies in this role.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

  • Beta Gamma Sigma, International Business Honor Society
  • Legacy Gift chairperson and class speaker, Washington University Executive MBA, cohort 55
  • HealthEd Connect, board member and Audit Committee chair (2013–19)

Empowering women and children through evidence-based health, education and advocacy programs

  • Country Club Christian Church, Capital Campaign chairperson, treasurer, Endowment and Finance Committee, (2013–current)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As a lifelong perfectionist, I am most proud of business school opportunities where I took a risk and failed. I am proud of working on a capstone idea that required multiple pivots and ultimately didn’t take off because it led our team to a genuinely life-giving idea — one we are soon to launch. And I am proud of taking a leadership role on teams and receiving valuable feedback that has provided both perspective and humility that I am taking with me to future leadership roles. Ultimately, I have learned far more from my business school failures than my successes, which is what I came to Washington University in St. Louis to do!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud to have been part of leading and developing firms that have grown from $9MM to over $50MM in revenue during my tenure. As the executive responsible for operational and administrative functions, I have had the opportunity to analyze business challenges and build infrastructures to create a scalable platform. As of 2020, these M&A broker-dealers have completed over 500 M&A transactions, successfully moving more than $16B of capital.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? The professors at WashU Olin are exceptional, and their teaching is both inspiring and transformational. Of those, Professor Sam Chun stands out as one who challenges, motivates, and inspires. Sam commands the material he teaches and has the charisma and wit to make a discipline like business statistics come to life for his students. I find Sam’s genuine curiosity and the example he sets for what it means to be a lifelong learner to be inspiring.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? My ambition was to combine my years of experience as the vice president of an M&A broker-dealer with the academic methods and strategies that I would gain from business school. This would allow me to effectively lead the company through the next stage of growth where the focus has shifted to customer retention, international growth, and new product lines. This is where WashU Olin Business School came in.

WashU Olin had the qualities that best fit my expectations and objective in a business school, in a format that worked well for my family. Ultimately, WashU Olin’s focus on developing thoughtful leaders, making connections between government and business, and expanding international business capabilities aligned with the areas I needed to develop to help move the company forward.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? From my professors, I learned the importance of strategy. I learned how to identify a firm’s value drivers and, as an operations executive, use that understanding to put in place people and infrastructures that effectively reinforce strategy.

From my cohort, I learned what it means to lead. As our brilliant professors found ways to help us engage across the diverse group, I learned from other’s experiences. I have been able to apply my newfound perspectives immediately and, as someone who lives to work alongside others on ideas that add value and inspire, this is a significant gift.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? As a dual-career household, my husband and I decided early on that while one person took on a “hard thing” such as a challenging assignment or educational opportunity, the other person would run the house. If I am honest, this is not always pretty, and on most days running the house ends up being the stretch assignment, However, this approach has allowed us to pursue our dreams while staying committed to the family, our true source of strength. On the days we get it right, challenging each other to explore difficult opportunities while showing support throughout is love at its best.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? You may not realize it now, but you have a life. On those hard days when you have missed sleep, small moments with your children, or valuable time with friends, you will need to be able to articulate to yourself why you set out on this journey. Have your reason ready.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? I love learning. I’ve always sought out educational opportunities and never questioned whether going back to school was the right decision, so I guess if I had heard a myth, I would have rightly ignored it!

What was your biggest regret in business school? No regrets. I came to the program seeking personal and professional transformation, which I am taking with me. Over two years, I exposed my weaknesses, took risks, experimented with new ways of thinking, and positively impacted my cohort. These experiences have more than prepared me for whatever challenges lay ahead.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? “Bring your best self” – Omokhaye Higo

You may not expect to hear these words on the first stressful days of business school, but Omokhaye Higo saw through the stack of case studies to what mattered – his teammates and the journey on which we were to embark. Higo is generous with his time and resources and prioritizes others’ well-being and success. What’s more, in the last year, he did this while leading through the COVID-19 pandemic as a physician of anesthesia at Washington University’s School of Medicine. Higo is the leader, teammate and friend I aspire to be.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? After determining that Washington University was my best match, I found the executive MBA format to be a good fit for my family and firm, both based out of Kansas City, Missouri. I was also drawn to the students I met when evaluating the program and felt the executive MBA network would be incredibly valuable.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My greater purpose in life is to create significant value in the communities and companies I am blessed to be a part of. Professionally, it is my goal to always be building, developing and growing.

What made Amy such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Amy hails from Kansas City—which surprised me in our first meeting because that represents a serious commute (250 miles, or 402 kilometers) to our campus in Saint Louis. This was an early signal of the commitment and dedication she demonstrates wherever she places her focus. A few interactions with Amy will leave you with the indelible impression that she can (and does) get things done. This is a convoluted way of saying she’s someone you would trust fully on the levels that actually matter.

Apart from being incisive, Amy thinks both strategically and at the level of details. Most of us can do one or the other, but usually not both. And this is probably why she was able to ask the simply-great-questions that clarified so many things for both the class and me in the courses we’ve had together.

As instructors, it’s always a privilege to meet students through our line of work whom we’d like shift to the status of “good friend” upon graduation. Amy is one of those people. But don’t just take my word for it—her class has asked her to speak on their behalf at their commencement. I believe that act, in itself, speaks volumes.”

Samuel Chun
Professor of Management Practice and Assistant Dean of Executive Education
WashU Olin Business School

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