Creating Social Value Blog / Corporate Social Relevance

Net Impact: Challenging Assumptions

By Alexandre Sene, Babson Fast Track MBA student.

I never saw myself as the type to attend a conference on corporate engagement and social responsibility. For the last 8 years I’ve worked in pharma with plenty of room to develop and challenge myself within the field. Anything I wanted to learn or explore was there for me right within my organization. But now, I find myself at a point in my career where I’m looking laterally for sources of inspiration and new challenges.

This fall I started the Babson Fast Track MBA program in San Francisco to help transition into the world of hospitality and build toward my goal of creating a chain of hotels in my home country of Senegal. Though I expected a solid educational foundation, I’ve been surprised with how proactive the school has been about letting students know of activities that might be of interest to them – especially ones outside our comfort zones.

So when I heard Emily Weiner speak about The Lewis Institute’s work, it sparked my interest as a new world to explore. She talked about the upcoming Net Impact Conference, and encouraged us to attend. To be candid, I’d never heard of the conference before and had very little exposure to CSR and sustainability. If anything, I held a cynical view of the true impact that CSR initiatives could have.

I was willing to challenge my assumptions and well, let’s say, I came out of 3 days at the Net Impact Conference feeling inspired, full of ideas and with a new belief that it is possible to have a profitable business venture while making a positive impact in the lives of employees, customers, community and the environment. I saw companies shaking up the field of social action and realized it’s not just a space for non-profits or charitable ventures anymore. During a presentation from Acumen I started to see how this space is really a viable option to secure funding – there are major dollars at play. And, I met so many interesting people whose interests and experiences overlapped mine in many unexpected and inspiring ways.

If you’re interested to learn more about the space and are at Babson’s Wellesley campus, I encourage you to attend this Monday’s Lunch & Learn on the Net Impact Conference at 12:30pm at Olin 101. Meanwhile on the west coast, I’m looking forward to much more exploration to come.