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McDonough MBAs Drawn to Impact Careers

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(above) Pak Aranyawat (MBA '17), a GSEI student leader, visited cultural treasures while interning at the National Microfinance Bank of Jordan.

By Natalia Rankine-Galloway, Associate Director

Global Social Enterprise Initiative


Social good can and should be a business priority. Increasingly, this is the mindset of MBA candidates arriving at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. With their MBA, more and more are looking to develop and apply a melding of social and business principles in a post graduate corporate role.


Max Wilson (M18) returned to graduate school and became a Global Social Enterprise Initiative student leader because he believes the ideals of purposeful engagement have the greatest potential for widespread sustainable impact when tied to core business objectives and strategy.

“Through GSEI, I hope to better understand how companies can demonstrate a return on investment by doing good,” said Wilson.

According to the Georgetown McDonough Office of MBA Admissions, 16 percent of incoming MBA evening program students and 10 percent of full-time MBAs graduating in 2016 entered with established social impact credentials. They had already worked in international development, nonprofit, or social sectors. 


Shari Hubert, McDonough’s associate dean of MBA admissions, reports an increase in interest among applicants to the MBA Program in making a social impact.


“The opportunities that exist in emerging markets, continued resource constraints, limited access to financing in some parts of the world, climate change issues, human rights abuses, security concerns - all of these present great opportunities for social innovation,” said Hubert. “Our students are primed to be on the forefront to make an impact.” 


Courses such as Corporate Social Responsibility, Investing for Impact, and Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models offer frameworks and cases for students to better understand where market opportunities exist and how companies think through solutions.  


“MBA candidates in my courses are passionately driven towards innovation and finding new ways to achieve social impact even when faced with the complex supply chain issues or difficult sourcing decisions” said Vishal Agrawal, associate professor of operations and information management, who teaches Environmentally Sustainable Operations and Business Models.  “They learn how to develop analytical tools and other frameworks to make the business case for improving the sustainability of products, operations, and supply chains." 


The internships of McDonough MBA students also reflect the diverse ways students can redefine what it means to pursue an impact career. In recent years, students have interned at organizations like Education Pioneers, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Inspiring Capital, Ashoka, Hilton, Coca-Cola, the National Microfinance Bank of Jordan, and World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).  


Sophie Byun (MBA ’17) spent this past summer with WBCSD.  She said the work offered her “the invaluable opportunity to work with experts who focus on social, economic and environmental issues to make the world better.” As a result of her experience, Byun now hopes to pursue a career in corporate social responsibility and sustainability.


Karen Kouagou, associate director of admissions, said that an increasing number of McDonough MBAs are seeking opportunities in impact investing, corporate social responsibility, and international development.


“It is exciting to encounter so many Georgetown McDonough students who want to use their business skills in a wide variety of ways to have a positive impact,” said Kouagou.


Beyond the classroom and career services, McDonough’s centers and initiatives play an important role in connecting students to practice. The Global Social Enterprise Initiative (GSEI) provides opportunities for students to work on programs with corporate partners, offers internships, and helps students and alumni navigate career options.


“The business leaders, nonprofit executives, and policymakers we work with tell us they are looking for creative problem-solvers,” said GSEI executive director Ladan Manteghi. “We can read the pulse, anticipate the trends, and translate what’s happening in industry and the social sector so that we can be a resource to employers, students, and alumni alike.”