Changing the World, One MBA Graduate at a Time

Of course many people pursuing an MBA will enter traditional business careers in financial services, consulting, and marketing, but there is also an interesting new trend. A surprising number of MBA graduates are pursuing careers in the non-profit sector. At the same time, business schools are developing courses, projects, competitions, and research centers to support the development of social responsibility among all MBA students, regardless of their career goals. It is an exciting trend and we are highlighting some wonderful examples in this issue of The MBA Tour eBulletin.

Finding Pride and Satisfaction in the Third Sector

Ana Maria Drummond, SDA Bocconi
Before starting the MBA, I was working for one of the largest multinational consumer companies in the world. I had a managerial position within the HR corporate department in Brazil, good compensation and benefits package, an interesting position and a promising career. At that time I was only 27 years old and, even though I was learning a lot and developing professionally, I decided to pursue an MBA. The promises of special recognition from the corporate world for those who decided to attend an MBA program were highlighted in articles, books, TV programs and in all kinds of events related to business.
At a certain moment, I realized that a managerial position with good compensation would no longer fulfill my personal aspirations. I knew that I needed to use my competencies to help others to change their own realities. So, why pursue a MBA then, one may ask? I wanted to have the experience that a good MBA program can offer and, on top of that, contribute to develop the so-called third sector with the management competences acquired after a MBA memorable experience.

Currently I am the Executive Director of World Childhood Foundation in Brazil. The foundation works to promote and defend children and adolescents' rights and has offices in Brazil, Germany, Sweden and USA. I am responsible for all activities in the Brazilian office, from administrative processes to strategic relationships with Board members and supporters. The interesting aspect of this position is the fact that I see myself, sometimes, as a small enterprise entrepreneur. I have to face quite similar challenges and the difference is the fact that I work for social impact and not for profit.

My advice for people who wish to pursue a career with social impact is that you do not have necessarily to postpone this ideal for when you will be retiring. People use to tell me that: I admire what you do but I see myself doing that when I turn 60 years old. I believe it is possible to work now, receive good compensation (although less than one might receive in a more typical MBA career path), be proud of your work, and happy with your decision.

Creating Economic and Social Change

Crystal German, Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

I was working as a Financial Manager for a Fortune 500 company when I decided it was time to switch careers. I decided that since I would be leaving my job to go to business school, I could leave early to try working in the non-profit sector. That way, if I did not like it, I could always focus on more traditional studies at business school and return to corporate America. I spent 6 months as a volunteer in an Atlanta Public High School teaching service learning and 6 weeks in the community reinvestment department of a retail bank right before business school to test the non-profit waters.
I work for the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development to create an environment of economic parity for racial/ethnic minorities and eliminate the need for compensatory programs. We do the work of sophisticated consulting firms. However, we make our services available to those small businesses who would not be able to afford such services but still drive the economic engine of the state. In addition, we consult to large private sector companies and state agencies on practices that can create and promote economic stimulus among low wealth communities. As the Director of Finance, I am primarily responsible for creating relationships that provide access to capital for growing businesses that traditionally have been left out of the capital markets.

Working for a non-profit has given me a deeper appreciation for community involvement and social change. I know that my work strengthens the civic infrastructure of communities, particularly racial/ethnic minority and low wealth communities. The state of North Carolina and its residents are better off because of the work that my non-profit does daily. Creating economic and social change makes salary seem less important.

Advice for people who wish to pursue a career with social impact:

  1. Know why you want to go into the career.
  2. Pick an area that gets you excited and drives you.
  3. Build relationships with those in the industry. Find out where the industry is going and which organizations are making the largest impact.
  4. Develop skills and talents that will make you an asset to an organization.
  5. Decide what type of organization best fits your personality (small vs. large, grass roots vs. think tank, etc).
  6. Be prepared to make sacrifices on things like salary and fringe benefits. However, keep in mind that other factors such as a more flexible work environment and social change created provide different kinds of benefits.

The Global Social Venture Competition

"I approve of what this social venture competition is trying to accomplish, that it is a hard-headed approach to social and environmental concerns that respects the bottom line... and that it recognizes that more can be accomplished by joining social and environmental concerns with private enterprise than by casting business as the necessary enemy of social concerns."

Daniel McFadden, Nobel Laureate in economics

The Global Social Venture Competition began in 1999 as a student-led initiative at the Haas School of Business. In May 2001, Columbia Business School and The Goldman Sachs Foundation partnered with Haas to extend the

reach of the competition and help grow a national platform for social ventures. In June 2003, the London Business School joined the competition partnership. This unprecedented partnership brings together the academic and financial worlds to support the creation of social ventures.

Each year, entrant teams from around the world compete for over $45,000 in cash and travel prizes. For more information about the contest, visit: www.socialvc.net

2005 First-place Winner

World of Good
School: University of California, Berkeley
Haas School of Business

World of Good's new line of globally sourced, fair trade products brings ethically sourced handcrafts into the mainstream retail market and generates sustainable livelihoods for thousands of artisans around the world. During 2004, its first year of operations, World of Good established sourcing partnerships with 70 fair trade artisan cooperatives in 20 different countries and increased sales for all of them. Products are sourced under fair trade guidelines that generate employment for women and disadvantaged communities, promise a living wage and promote social and economic development. In 2004 sales were over $400,000 and products have turned significantly faster than retail industry averages while generating markups of 100% for both retailers and World of Good. World of Good projects its 2007 revenues to be over $20 million.

Nation Building

Daniel Kunin, Tuck School of Business
Dartmouth College

Before I got my MBA I was working in Tbilisi, Georgia, serving as a special advisor to the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament, doing work to help strengthen the Georgian Parliament and also doing foreign policy stuff and speech writing, etc.

I left Georgia in 1997 and did a joint MBA (at Tuck) and an Masters in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. I chose Tuck primarily because of its small size and the direct access that students have with professors.

I thought when I left Georgia that it would be the end of my "non-profit" career. In fact, after graduating from both programs in 2000, I joined the Boston Consulting Group in Milan and worked for them for 2 years before migrating back to the NGO world, basically because my heart was still set on international politics and governance-related issues. After Georgia's Rose Revolution, I became a Senior Advisor to the Georgian Government. The people whom I had worked with in Georgia in the past became the new leaders of the country (i.e. the Chairman of the Parliament became the Prime Minister and another close friend became the President).

Today I split my time about evenly working for the PM and the President. My job has evolved as Georgia has gotten more stable and more successful. Initially, I was involved with helping design many of the reform programs (government downsizing, etc.) then I did a lot of work interacting with the diplomatic and international development community - all the time doing a lot of the "writing" for the government. I also travel everywhere with both principles, write their speeches and now focus mostly on foreign policy issues between Georgia and the US and Georgia and the EU with some FDI work as well.

The biggest factor in my decision to return to the non-profit sector is the ability to be part of/help bring about transformational change on a large scale. In that respect I feel lucky to be part of a nation building/re-building process, and having the Tuck experience has equipped me with the combo of management and strategy skills that I need on a regular basis. In all likelihood I will return to the private sector after a few more years here - so at the end of the day, I think the notion of a trade-off in salary is false, because I feel my earning potential is now higher due to the amount of responsibility I have and because of my access to people.

For anyone thinking about working in the non-profit sector I cannot praise the MBA experience enough. It teaches you a combination of analytical skills that are in great need in most NGO's. At the same time, in the non-profit world, MBA's tend to be given a high degree of responsibility (more so in general than when one joins an I-bank or consulting) so for individuals looking for leadership opportunities, the chance to be creative and to make a more bold or pronounced impact, it can provide an interesting career.

Wharton European Corporate Social Responsibility Initiative Receives $1 Million

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania announced that it has received $1 million from current and former members of the Wharton Executive Board for Europe, Africa and the Middle East to fund the Wharton European Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiative. more.

Applying Top Quality Management Training in the
Non-profit World

Chere Chapman, London Business School

When I applied to London Business School, I was working in a semi-private (mostly public) hospital which is Singapore's National Referral Center for HIV/AIDS. I was on staff as an epidemiologist (someone who studies trends in disease) and I focused mostly on HIV/AIDS in Singapore and the region.
My purpose in doing the MBA was to gain the skills needed to become a top manager of a non-profit. Formal management training in the non-profit world is lacking (and, in my opinion, much needed) so I thought a top-ranked MBA would be a big advantage for me.

I am now a consultant for CARE International in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. CARE is a large international NGO renowned for its disaster relief efforts and international development work. My role is on the international development side, advising CARE on two key areas: their National HIV/AIDS Program Strategy and their Corporate Social Responsibility Program for Vietnam. I love the flexibility of the consultancy position since it allows me to spend a lot of time with my 18 month old son.

Personally, I think the MBA is well worth it, even for this non-traditional sector. As I mentioned, I also think that the skills learned in a top quality MBA are directly applicable to the non-profit sector and give people like me a huge advantage. There is nothing as rewarding as a career with social impact so go for it!

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