Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

The Impact of MBA Impact Hour

By Ross Chesnick, Graduate student at Babson College.

I caught a glimpse of the clock while sorting through the clutter of digital documents on my desktop. It was 4:30 PM on a Tuesday in late October. I slammed my laptop shut and pressed pause on the ever-demanding MBA pipeline of assignments and deadlines, and made room for my favorite hour and a half of the month, MBA Impact Hour.

I walked into The Lewis Institute to find twenty students, fellows, and professors crammed around the Space X table, pencils and notebooks in hand. Quickly taking a panoramic of the room, I noticed that each guest was intensely engaged with their neighbors; one was telling their personal stories that led them to this table, others were conversing on what social impact meant to them. Regardless of what they did in the hours prior to the event, each attendee was intoxicated with an energy fueled by their commitment to learning more about social innovation.

Cheryl Kiser led Bob Massie, a key anti-apartheid activist and author, from her office and into the hot seat. The room re-positioned itself to welcome our esteemed guest. Events that feature panel discussions and guest speakers typically begin with a long-winded introduction followed by a discussion that ends with a compact Q&A. MBA Impact Hour deviates from this framework. After spending ten minutes discussing his past and where he sees value in the future of business and social enterprise, Bob Massie opened the floor for all questions. This low pressure environment, where championed professionals interact with curious academics, allowed for some of the most insightful and thought provoking dialogue on campus. From sustainability reporting to social value creation to social impact bonds, the conversation emanated the language of social innovation in a group that knew the world could do better.

As the clock struck 6:30 PM, those sitting around the table realized they were late for their next event or meeting. John Kluge, a student in Babson’s Two Year MBA program, gave his final thoughts in a statement that truly summed up the past two hours, “It’s great to see how The Lewis Institute takes people who walk the walk in social innovation and provides students with alternative role models.” When we are able to make time in our schedules for MBA Impact Hour, we are able to make changes for the rest of our day – and beyond.