2017 Best & Brightest: Colton Calandrella, Washington University

Colton Calandrella

Olin Business School, Washington University in St. Louis

“Gregarious social entrepreneur and experiential learner intent on using business to help others.”

Fun fact about yourself: I’m the only person in the world with my exact name.

Hometown: Colorado Springs, CO

High School: St. Mary’s High School

Majors: Economics & Strategy, Entrepreneurship

Minor: Latin American Studies

Honors/Awards: Recipient of Kent Scholarship; Dean’s List all semesters; admitted to Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, awarded to top 7% of the junior class

Favorite Business Courses: (1) Game Theory (2) Management and Corporate Responsibility

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: Center for Experiential Learning (Undergraduate Fellow); Olin Diversity and Inclusion Committee (Undergraduate Representative); Olin Business Council (Vice President of Social Initiatives); Washington University Writing Center (Peer Mentor); Washington University Student Associate; Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Cultivation Capital—St. Louis, MO; May-December 2015
  • Bain & Company—Dallas, TX; June-July 2016

Describe your dream job: My dream job would be to create a social impact conglomerate that lends scale to sustainable social enterprises and allows consumers to purchase ethically-sourced products for all their needs.

Who is your favorite professor? Ignacio Esponda, an Argentine economist educated at Stanford, taught my Game Theory class. The course equipped me with an invaluable analytical toolset and confirmed my desire to be an Economics and Strategy major. However, Professor Esponda did much more than change the way I think. He helped me decide to study abroad in Argentina and gave me an opportunity to explore academia by becoming his research assistant. He genuinely took an interest in me, always offering advice, help, or even just a friendly smile. Professor Esponda embodies the best of Olin: brilliant, worldly, and kind.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? John Mackey, the founder and CEO of Whole Foods, leads his company with a philosophy he describes in his book Conscious Capitalism. An extension of stakeholder theory, the idea of Conscious Capitalism argues that incorporating the needs of everyone affected by the value chain is more than the ethical thing to do: it actually improves profitability in the long run. By providing a robust framework for stakeholder theory, Mackey laid the foundation for my future dreams as a social entrepreneur and continues to affect the way I think about business on a daily basis.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? If you want to know how people will act, follow the incentives. If you want to change how people will act, change the incentives.

What did you enjoy most about majoring in a business-related field? A business degree is a degree in getting stuff done; now that I know how the world functions, I can go out and improve it for the better.

Where would you like to work after graduation? I will be working as a special education high school teacher in Chicago Public Schools with Teach for America after graduation.

What are your long-term professional goals? After working as teacher, I plan to return to Bain & Company for several years before pursuing my dream of starting my own enterprise.

“I knew I wanted to major in business when…I worked with a local nonprofit and realized that the best way to assist the poor in our society is to empower them through high-quality employment.” 

“If I didn’t major in business, I would be…studying theology and writing.”

“Before I entered business school, I wish I had known…that you don’t need a brand-name internship to change the world.”

What was the happiest moment of your life? As a first-generation college student, being awarded a full-ride scholarship to one of the top business schools in the country was a dream come true. I’ll never forget my mom coming home early from work, crying and overjoyed at the news.

Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? After piloting the Ferguson Small Business Initiative, I am now the Undergraduate Fellow at the Center for Experiential Learning, a role created for 2nd-year MBA students. I am proud to have my legacy be the application of business skills to empower the economic development of the local community.

What animal would you choose to represent your professional brand? I would choose a Brachiosaurus: peaceful yet powerful.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank God for every success in my life, and for giving me the strength to accomplish all that I have.

Favorite book: Mere Christianity

Favorite movie: The Godfather

Favorite musical performer: Chance the Rapper

Favorite vacation spot: Jaco, Costa Rica

What are your hobbies? I enjoy reading, cooking, playing golf, meditating, and hiking.

What made Colton such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2017? “Colton has been engaged in meaningful ways in our community since his arrival as a first year student. He is focused on not only making Olin a better place for our community but for making the St. Louis community a better place for all. Colton has been involved in experiential activities and courses that have allowed him to give back in addition to serving key roles in the school focused on ensuring that Olin remains an inclusive and diverse community.”

Steve Malter
Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs
Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School


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