2024 Best & Brightest Business Major: Yoelle Gulko, Washington University (Olin)

Yoelle Gulko

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin Business School

“A passionate and curious filmmaker who explores the power of human connection.”

Fun fact about yourself: I had a stare-down with Mark Zuckerberg at the Big Tech Congressional hearing on January 31, 2024.

Hometown: New York City, New York

High School: High School of American Studies at Lehman College

Major: Organization and Strategic Management

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Ownership Insights: Competitive Advantage of Family and Employee-Owned Firms, taught by Peter Boumgarden and Spencer Burke

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Film and Operations Director, Between the Lines

Member, Phi Gamma Nu

Project Manager, Consult Your Community

Innovation Intern, Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Participant, Out for Undergrad

Winner of The Social Dilemma Impact Storyteller Award

Winner of The Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund grant

Deans List Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

Where have you interned during your college career?

Film Director and Founder, Our Subscription to Addiction LLC, NYC

Founder, A Concerned Human, NYC

Production Assistant / Second Assistant Camera, Danny A. Productions, NYC

Founder, Yalla Videos, NYC

Where will you be working after graduation? I will continue my work as director of the short documentary Our Subscription to Addiction. The film captures my raw experience of grappling with phone addiction and reveals the members of my generation leading a digital well-being movement. I founded Our Subscription to Addiction LLC as the company to operate the film’s production.

Who is your favorite business professor? My favorite business professor is Glenn MacDonald, a personal mentor and advocate since my first year at WashU. Glenn is committed to providing a home for creatives at WashU, especially those seeking to apply their business background to a creative industry. Teaching the Business of Entertainment and Business of the Arts classes, he creates unimaginable experiences for his students: inviting them to have lunch with industry-leading CEOs and connecting them with aligned professional opportunities. Over the years, he has guided me to help confidently find my place in the film industry, posing purposeful questions to prompt me to be intentional about my career goals. His greatest joy is getting to know his students, which is clear from his investment in their success. I am extremely grateful to have him on my journey.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Reach out to people who inspire you. Upon starting college, I hesitated to reach out to those I looked up to. However, with time and the support of the professional development organization Phi Gamma Nu, I pushed myself to cold email one of my favorite YouTubers. To my surprise, he responded.  After a Zoom call, he offered to mentor me personally on my first larger film project. To this day, he has remained an invaluable mentor from whom I’ve learned immensely and am grateful for. Whether on a professional or personal level, I’ve found that those who initially intimidate me are those from whom I’ve learned the most.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? You don’t have to wait until you’re older to chase your dreams. I remember speaking with my Olin career coach, Janelle Brooks, and explaining how it would be a dream to intern for a company paving the path in digital well-being. She asked me what I was waiting for and encouraged me to research events I could engage in. I took her words to heart, soon connecting with them, which completely changed my career trajectory. I launched myself into the world of digital well-being and was soon awarded grant mentorship and funding from Netflix’s The Social Dilemma to work on my film about the youth-led digital well-being movement, Our Subscription to Addiction. Importantly, my experience as a young person online gave me a unique angle into the industry that was especially valued by major decision-makers, including funders and lawmakers.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? I would encourage my younger self to stop comparing myself with my peers. At the start of business school, it felt easier to pick a popular career path. It took a lot of time to hone my interests and commit myself to pursuing a career path aligned with my deepest curiosities. I’m grateful for my decisions in the end, but I would encourage myself to focus deeper on what I truly wanted early on.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of earning a grant from the Responsible Technology Youth Power Fund, a partnership of 15 funders committed to investing in youth-led digital well-being solutions. Key funders include Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Archewell, Melinda Gates’s Pivotal Ventures, and the Omidyar Network. The possibilities we unlocked with that grant completely transformed my documentary. I invested part of the funds in a professional industry production team, including cinematographers, a sound mixer, a producer and an editor that elevated the film quality to a whole new level. It was also an honor to connect with and amplify other youth-led initiatives by capturing their work for my documentary.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire Alivia Kaplan, a close friend and mentor who inspired me to pursue entrepreneurial ventures. Starting her international consulting firm while at WashU, she led by example by founding initiatives she believed in. Upon expressing my initial reservations, she calmly replied, “The worst thing that happens is you learn something new.” This mindset stuck with me, as I am now deeply driven by venturing out of my comfort zone and learning as much as I can from new experiences. She also introduced me to meditation, a now large part of my well-being practice.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would most like to thank my sister, Hannah Gulko, for my success. She has been there for me through every part of my life, endlessly supporting me, investing in me and rooting for me. Her dependability has set the foundation for my achievements, from teaching me how to make my first resume to editing my grant applications. She also taught me to view the world with humanity, always putting others before herself and prioritizing their best interests.

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

Collaborating with Yes Theory, a YouTube channel dedicated to seeking discomfort

Screen my film at the South by Southwest Film Festival

What made Yoelle such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Yoelle came to Olin showing immense potential. Since then, her expertise, confidence and imagination have blossomed. Her Olin education and entrepreneurial nature formed the basis for a promising career as a documentary film maker. She is a star student and a genuine and kind person who is widely appreciated. Olin is so proud of her, and this will only become more so as she makes her way.”

Glenn MacDonald
John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and Strategy


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