From: Olin Business School/Washington University

by Alexis-Clair Roehrich

Another busy day for Olin students in Washington, D.C. in the Business & Government: Understanding and Influencing the Regulatory Environment course. Tim Keating, Senior Vice President of Government Operations at Boeing, kicked off the morning presentations with some tales from one of the most influential groups in the Capital: lobbyists.

A masterful storyteller, Tim shared eye-opening examples of the importance of developing relationships and engagement in ongoing conversations with policymakers. He discussed how essential grass-roots efforts have an impact on decision-making. Students may not become full time lobbyists, but they will understand the need to engage corporate headquarters and field units in the policy making process.

The vibrant Sally Katzen next addressed the class. Ms. Katzen was head of a little known agency at the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which students learned has one of the most comprehensive portfolios in all of government. Ms. Katzen emphasized the indispensible need to provide policymakers with data in order to make sound, effective decisions.

This theme was stressed again by former EPA Administrator and White House Energy Czar, Carol Browner. Ms. Browner relayed very insightful stories of the benefits of public-private engagement. She also emphasized the distinction between “needs” and “wants” sharing that businesses and other special interest groups who focus on what they need are more successful than those who don’t move beyond what they want.

Caroline Ahearn, a former Brookings LEGIS Fellow, now Director of Policy and Legislative Coordination within the office of Enforcement and Compliance at EPA, wrapped up the classroom portion of the day with insight into how agencies work with the Hill to formulate policy. Caroline’s experience of working on the hill provided great perspective to share about the process.

Then off to Ford’s Theater for a fascinating walking tour of the investigation into the Lincoln assassination. A local actor portraying a Pinkerton detective walked the group through the aftermath of the tragic event providing students with a unique look at Washington and the city’s rich history. The day finished with dinner at the WUSTL Washington Office. After the week in D.C. how many students now want to do a semester in Washington?