Creating Social Value Blog / Corporate Social Relevance

The Power of Relationships to Enhance Learning

The power of community and networks is something Cheryl and I talk and write about quite a bit. Both of us are “collectors of people and relationships” and are constantly working to connect dots for the greater good. These last few weeks, our students were able to benefit from our connections to learn directly from corporate executives about what it really takes to activate Corporate Social Innovation from the inside.

Dave Stangis, VP of Corporate Responsibility and Chief Sustainability Officer at Campbell Soup Company, came to campus as part of our lineup during Babson Food Day last month. Always generous with his time and open to engage with the Babson community, Dave flew in early to spend 90 minutes in an intimate dialogue with Sinan Erzurumlu’s Leading and Managing Sustainability class. He shared some of the real world challenges that Campbell’s faces and the complexities of working to create sustainable change. After class, he came back to The Lewis Institute to talk with a group of students, faculty, and staff, including a team of undergraduates who recorded an interview with him. Their goal is to edit that interview into a podcast and have his direct experience and wisdom help students as they navigate their FME journey.

Kathleen Tullie, Founder of BOKS and Director of Social Responsibility at Reebok, has been spending a lot of time on the Babson campus lately. She’s part of our Business Advisory Council for some forthcoming work we’re doing around Cultures of Health in Business, and was a featured guest at our October 21 Good Business Friday. Last week, it was our students’ turn to do the driving. Kathleen and her team welcomed 16 students from Babson’s Net Impact chapter to the Reebok headquarters in Canton for a “seeing is believing” opportunity. Students learned how she juggles a dual role of being the head of CSR inside of a corporation as well as the head of a nonprofit that was acquired by that corporation, and about the impactful interplay between those two seemingly disparate roles. She shared details of their 3-5 year plans, their metrics, and their goals – details that you can’t get from reading a website.

Also last week, our longtime friend, Risa Sherman of Boston Beer Company, was kind enough to welcome our students (aged 21+ of course!) into their headquarters to share insights from their signature program, Brewing the American Dream. More than 20 students joined this corporate trek to learn why and how the company was able to engage every corner of its business and focus all of its social responsibility efforts into one program that aligns with their vision. Brewing the American Dream increases the success of small food, beverage, craft brewing, and hospitality businesses nationwide by combining expert business coaching and advising with access to small business capital. Some businesses even get the chance to brew in conjunction with Sam Adams, resulting in a collaboration beer series. Students had a chance to learn details about their partnership with Accion to provide access to funding, the tangible ways that this program has helped over 1,400 get access to $13 million in funding and create over 5,000 jobs nationwide. And, as an added bonus, they even got to taste the newest collaboration beer, Devil’s Nectah!

These are just three examples of the ways we like to collaborate and create action learning opportunities for our community. We’re gearing up for an incredible spring semester and look forward to cultivating even more opportunities for our students to learn. If you have specific ideas or topics you’d like to see covered, I encourage you to join us at the December 2 Good Business Friday with Carol Sanford as we discuss The Responsible Entrepreneur (noon-1:30pm in the Reynolds Global Lounge). I’ll be available afterward to talk with members of our community, answer questions, or brainstorm opportunities for the future. I hope to see you then!