Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Impact Symposium - Do Well, Do Good, Do Both

Guest post by Brian Greer
 Second-Year MBA, Supply Chain & Global Management Academy

One of the aspects I appreciate most about the Kelley MBA program is the opportunity to take leadership in areas that interest me both personally and professionally. For me, one of those is Net Impact – a club with more than 280 chapters and 20,000 members worldwide that is committed to using business skills and knowledge to do good. The broadly-defined area of “social impact” careers has grown significantly over the last 10 years, and when we took office last spring, my peers and I on the Net Impact leadership team saw a notable increase in interest in the topic within the program at Kelley.

Representatives from Steelcase, Cummins, and the IU
Office of Sustainability take part in a panel moderated
by Kelley professor Dr. Jeff McMullen
It was at that point that we decided to host Kelley’s first-ever Impact Symposium, a day-long event designed to help our classmates – many of whom have expressed an interest in social impact but also weren’t sure how to make it a part of their careers – connect their ability to do well with their desire to do good.  So, on October 5th, we hosted professionals (including 4 Kelley alumni!) from organizations like MillerCoors, Steelcase, Teach for America, and Acumen Fund who shared their social impact career experiences with Kelley students.

Dr. Mrim Boutla guides Kelley students
through the social impact career search
Panel discussions in the morning were followed by an afternoon of career search guidance with Dr. Mrim Boutla, a career coach and entrepreneur who started More Than Money Careers to assist students in finding jobs with impact, and students had networking opportunities the night before and throughout the day. Topics like corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and the role of both non-profits and for-profits in the impact space came up in conversation all day, and have continued in the days and weeks since.

With strong attendance, enthusiastic participation, and learning experience for students and professionals alike, the event was a big success. In particular, I was encouraged to see the energy demonstrated by panelists and attendees alike, and believe that opportunities to do work with social impact will continue growing both at Kelley and with employers who recruit here. What’s more, I enjoyed building my own leadership skills by developing a program that fostered personal learning and development for my peers. Indeed, future Kelley students stand to benefit from the Symposium as much as, if not more than, current students, as the groundwork that has been laid will make future events both more likely and more valuable.

When the Net Impact leadership team attended the national Net Impact conference last weekend in Baltimore, MD, our excitement about what we had developed with the Impact Symposium grew even further. We saw what such an event can become, as the national event had more than 2700 attendees and more than 100 sessions featuring professionals who are doing social impact work. While I’m not sure the Impact Symposium at Kelley will grow to such a size, the leadership team does envision a future where Kelley accepts, graduates and propels individuals who use their top-20 MBA education to impact the world around them – to do well while they do good.


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