By Frances Chang, MBA ‘15

Haas_NI_wish_2014From “Big data = Bigger impact” to “Biomimicry Design workshop,” Net Impact’s 2013 conference covered all the ways we can make an impact. The breadth of unique topics at the conference made me realize how large the scope of Net Impact is.  As co-president of the Net Impact (NI) MBA chapter at Haas this year, I sat down with our board to plan, asking each person to focus on one “wish” for our club, this year.

I’m pleased to share the top three that will inspire us in the coming year:

1.     More Impact!
How can one of the largest student groups on campus have a bigger impact, when we address such a wide range of topics (ranging from energy to food to corporate responsibility)? This year, NI is committed to getting more students than ever engaged in social impact; we will do this by partnering with other groups on campus and elevating the discussion. So many Haas students are passionate about positive change, that there are many related groups on campus (the Education Leadership Club and the International Development and Enterprise Club to name a few). Every year, Haas’ NI chapter promotes the Education Case and Global Social Venture Competitions; going forward we will continue to inspire change on campus with unconventional partnerships as well. We plan to partner with the Culinary Club to visit new sustainable food startups such as Good Eggs. Working with the Women in Leadership club will offer us a chance to invite companies like Samasource to speak to Haas students. Our next challenge is to convince the beer club to teach home brewing with local organic ingredients!

2.     Pathbending Careers for Life
This year’s NI conference broke a new record for attendance and included more students than professionals. As the demand for meaningful careers increases, we want NI to be at the center by inspiring, developing and reimagining career paths for MBAs in 2014 and beyond.

At the end of last year, Forbes magazine asked the provocative question, “Is CSR dead? Or just mismanaged?”.  The CRB’s Jo Mackness and a panel of professionals informed us that the field is changing and will be evolving as CSR moves from primarily compliance to supply chain roles, more deeply into marketing, and beyond. This is most readily seen in the CRB’s Strategic CSR and Projects class offered this semester at Haas. From financial modelling to scale Pepsi’s “Food for Good” business to developing IT for Chevron Eneergy Solutions’ customers, the class offers diverse interpretations of CSR and sustainability.

As the field changes, Haas’ NI chapter aspires to strengthen the community of those who think outside the box and are ready to take on these more evolved sustainability roles. This community will give us the support we need as we take our careers to the next step. This year, we will engage with professional chapters in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, through featured talks and networking events to keep the conversation of change going.

3.     Year of the Social Entrepreneur
Seeing Berkeley-Haas Alum Kirsten Saenz Tobey (MBA ’06) take the stage at NI 2013 was deeply inspiring. The co-founder of Revolution Foods spoke about her passion for change and what drove her to be a success. The beginnings of the company can be traced to her time at Haas when she met her classmate and eventual co-founder, Kristen Richmond (MBA ’06). NI will benefit from Jim Schorr’s class on Social Entrepreneurship which will feature speakers such as Premal Shah (President, Kiva), Neil Grimmer (Founder/CEO, Plum Organics), and Don Shaffer (CEO, RSF Social Finance).

This year we also plan to draw on new energy from the new Institute for Business and Social Impact, headed up by Prof. Laura Tyson. Students will be involved in creating a strategic plan to support the Institute’s goal of making Haas the leader in social entrepreneurship among business schools within the next five years. The sky is the limit for what social entrepreneurs can do. I look forward to seeing Revolution Energy, Revolution Farms or Revolution International come from Haas.

Taking on these three goals will be a quite a challenge for the upcoming year. However, we wouldn’t be Haas if we did not “challenge the status quo” and dream big. As we move into 2014, I invite you to dream big and send your wishes to [email protected]. Happy New Year!

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