Three top business schools have announced major initiatives to bring their MBAs opportunities to have a positive impact on society in as many weeks.
Spain’s ESADE Business School has said it will offer full-time MBA students the chance to participate in CBI, an experimental innovation training program that aims to bridge the gap between science and society.
Projects to work on include Well2 go, which will install a network of sensors at water sources that collect data to detect potential health risks, and Kelvin Food for U, which ensures food safety by using sensors to monitor the temperature of packaged food items in real time.
Ignasi Carreras, director of the Institute for Social Innovation at ESADE, told BusinessBecause: “We have been working intensively over the last 10 years to help our students understand how companies and non-profit organizations can have a positive impact on society.”
Meanwhile the UK’s University of Edinburgh Business School has pledged to build a hub for business, policy and society after the purchase of a disused landmark building in the Scottish city.
“What the economy and society are asking for are leaders who can work across business, policy making and civil society,” said Ian Clarke, dean of the business school.
And INSEAD of France has launched the Soraya Salti Social Impact Scholarship Fund, which will develop young female social entrepreneurs from the Middle East, South Asia and African regions.
“Our mission is to help these entrepreneurs apply advanced business tools and market mechanisms and empower communities to create tangible social value,” said Hans Wahl, director of INSEAD’s Social Entrepreneurship Initiative.
The trio join a global drive in business education to train future leaders to consider both profit and purpose.
“We truly believe that business should make a difference in the lives of others — not just the bottom line,” said Erin Worsham, director of social entrepreneurship at Duke Fuqua.
Social entrepreneurship in particular is a hot and blossoming topic in the MBA community.
Ben Mangan, executive director at Berkeley-Haas School’s Center for Social Sector Leadership, said: “We’re seeing more and more elite business school grads who are interested in starting their own social ventures.”
Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, said “we believe business always plays an important role in society”. “We want our students to go out and be both successful leaders in business and citizens in the world,” he added.
Amid the increase in focus around the triple-bottom-line at top schools, career opportunities for MBAs to do good are seemingly exploding, from impact consulting practices to social investment schemes at banks. “You can make profit and do socially good things at the same time,” said Wally Hopp, senior associate dean at Michigan Ross.
The fear for businesses that do not offer opportunities for impact is that they will struggle to hire and hold top MBA graduates.
“Businesses which have broken trust in society need to re-establish their social credentials or they will miss out on top talent,” said Daniela Papi-Thornton, deputy director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford’s Saïd Business School.