2022 Best & Brightest Business Major: Carmen Rottinghaus, Washington University (Olin)

Carmen Rottinghaus

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“Expressive people-person passionate about investing in climate resilience and advocating for gender equity.”

Fun fact about yourself: After graduation my family and I are hiking to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro!

Hometown: Minnetonka, Minnesota

High School: Wayzata High School

Major: Finance, Environmental Analysis

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Advanced Valuation

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Dean’s List
  • Varsity Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field
  • Delta Sigma Pi (President, VP Chapter Operations, Historian)
  • Management 100 Head Teaching Assistant
  • Management 200A Head Teaching Assistant
  • Endowments, Foundations & Philanthropy Head Teaching Assistant
  • Women in Finance (Executive Board)
  • Bear Cubs Running Team
  • Brown School of Social Work Research Assistant
  • Web3 at WashU (Founding Member)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Strategy Intern at Chronic Pain Ireland in Dublin, Ireland. (Summer 2019)
  • Investment Intern at Washington University Investment Management Company in St. Louis, Missouri. (Summer 2020, Summer 2021)

Where will you be working after graduation? I am returning to the Washington University Investment Management Company as a full-time Investment Analyst.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Although our current economic system has certainly caused and contributed to many of our world’s most pressing systemic issues (global warming, wealth inequality, etc.), businesses play a critical role in developing solutions. With climate change, for example, we are under a shortening timeline that doesn’t leave as much space for sweeping systemic transformations. Studying business has taught me that we need to take a realist approach to these problems and produce solutions from within our existing system. Plus, sustainability is a market opportunity in and of itself. Investors have become increasingly aware of ESG considerations with their money and pay attention to how stakeholders are affected by business decisions. Whether it be through creative pollution market incentives or corporate responsibility, there are a lot of innovative businesspeople working to solve today’s largest issues. Despite the common perception that business and social or environmental progress are mutually exclusive, I’d say they are both necessary for mutual prosperity.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Reflect on the ways in which you can combine non-business-related passions (for me, sustainability) with business. Studying business is inherently interdisciplinary, and therefore there is a lot of room to mix in what genuinely excites you. This will make your courses and projects substantially more interesting and meaningful. Also constantly push yourself to stay up to date with the news and apply it to what you’re learning in the classroom. It will make dry, seemingly unhelpful academic theories much more tangible.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? When I came to WashU, one of the reasons I chose to enter the business school is because I perceived it as great place to apply quantitative skills. However, by collaborating in groups, taking courses in organizational behavior, and analyzing case studies, I’ve been surprised at the high value of strong soft skills across business fields. “Business” involves way more qualitative analysis, ethics, and non-rational decision-making than I previously assumed.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would definitely take more classes in Olin’s entrepreneurship curriculum. It is a rapidly growing major with exceptional faculty and plenty of opportunities for experiential learning. More and more WashU alums are starting make a name for themselves in the startup and venture ecosystem, which is super fantastic to see! In the past year. I’ve become increasingly interested in the space, and so I wish I’d had a chance to learn about it in an academic context. Perhaps I would have even tried to start a business of my own. Only in these last few semesters have I realized just how unique of an opportunity it is to be surrounded by bright, collaborative, and passionate peers every day. Between the potential co-founders and university’s wide range of entrepreneurial support programs, it is the perfect place to explore a new business endeavor.

What business executive do you admire most? I admire Ray Anderson, Founder and Chairman of Interface, Inc., which is one of the world’s largest modular carpet manufacturers. I’d highly recommend his book, Business Lessons From a Radical Industrialist. It tells his story of taking what was formerly a pollutive, petroleum-dependent modular carpet company to a case study in establishing a green business. Instead of initiating half-hearted corporate sustainability measures, Anderson fundamentally reoriented his business’ operations and supply chain to achieve net-zero environmental impact in 2019. He simultaneously cut greenhouse gas emissions by 92%, grew sales by two-thirds, and dramatically improved profit margins.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I’ve ran on the WashU Cross Country and Track & Field teams for the past four years and I’m proud to have stuck with it throughout all of college. The sport is physically and mentally taxing and practices and meets have taken up a ton of my time. So, I’m happy to have made it to the finish line. I also recently set a new mile personal record of 5:16, which I’m very proud of!

Which classmate do you most admire? The classmate I most admire is Gracie Guise. Gracie, as a double major in Accounting and Education, perfectly exemplifies how you can mix business interests and non-business passions. She’s dedicated to improving our education system and impacting the lives of her future students. I am constantly amazed by how effortlessly she can connect with new people and lead by example. She is easily the most organized and prepared student I’ve met in my entire life, not to mention ridiculously supportive, approachable, and incredible at navigating tough situations. Gracie, you’re the best!

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents! I grew up in a dual-working household and they both modeled how to simultaneously put your heart into your work and  your family. They are amazing listeners, thoughtful advice givers, and incredibly hard workers. My mom has also spent a considerable part of her career leading efforts to improve the presence of underrepresented groups in financial services. She’s proven that you can, in fact, use business and your career as a tool to fight social issues.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Become a partner at an impact-oriented venture capital firm or work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  2. Maintain a healthy work-life balance.

What are your hobbies? I spend tons of time outside – mostly running, rollerblading or doing yoga. I’m also a huge foodie and so I spend lots of time in the kitchen and hopping around the St. Louis restaurant scene!

What made Carmen such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?  

“Carmen is one of the most impressive undergrads that I have had the pleasure of working with since I began teaching over 20 years ago. She has a unique blend of incredibly rigorous academics, exceptional character, and strong leadership skills that are well beyond her years. Since her freshman year, Carmen has been a leader at Olin, working as a head TA in charge of 20+ teaching assistants, serving as the president of her business fraternity, and participating in year-round athletics on WashU’s track and cross country teams. Her passion, boundless energy, and ability to connect with others has made her an inspiration for many of her peers, and has been pivotal in creating a unifying, more inclusive environment so that every student could grow and realize their true potential. Through the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in Spring 2020, I was amazed by her adaptability, courage, and leadership; she spent countless hours working on the transition to remote learning and supporting her team, students, and faculty during this time of crisis with warmth, enthusiasm, and (always) a smile. I am grateful to have worked with such a talented young person, and I look forward to seeing her career unfold as a truly exceptional business leader in the years to come.”

Dr. P. Konstantina Kiousis
Senior Lecturer in Business Management



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