2015 Net Impact Conference

My STEP Signature Project was traveling to Seattle in November to see the Net Impact Conference. This was a unique leadership experience tying my interest in business with my interest in social impact. The experience showed me how leaders in the social impact sector function and I was able to bring back a piece of the experience to Ohio State through a conference I helped run.

Alleviating Poverty Through Entrepreneurship (APTE) was one of my most passionate involvements during my first two years. One conception I had was that the social sector and business sectors were worlds that operated separately from one another. The fact that the Gates Foundation put together this event showed me how my career path could be molded into my ideal as someone interested in social impact. Hearing the speakers and chatting with professionals who had leveraged their corporate experience into the social sector showed me a career path I had not previously understood.

Two experiences that stood out to me were hearing a speaker from Tennessee who started a buy-one, give-one shoe distribution model to the developing world and speaking with a former Morgan Stanley employee working on a water distribution model.

Doing good work around the world is idealized in media and the classroom. It is something I was always interested in but I was not sure the path to take. Hearing Buddy, the speaker from Tennessee, showed me there was no “right” way to find a role in the social impact space. Transferrable skills such as communication, attention to detail, and work ethic were shown as the bare necessities of being successful. Hearing about his dealing with the Haitian government and cooperating with NGOs around the world really accentuated just how complicated many world issues are. To eventually solve these issues, I need to keep in touch with those making differences and find where I fit in.

One role model I met at the event was Nicholas. He had worked at Morgan Stanley in banking but left after 4 years to pursue an MBA. During his MBA pursuit, he entered social impact and began developing a business plan for energy access in the developing world. His logical thinking from the investment banking world helped him add a unique element to the business plan team. This was relevant to me since my interest is in investment banking. Many had told me it was a path irreconcilable with a world outside finance. Seeing how many transferrable skills came from banking to fields outside finance really inspired me to consider exit opportunities and graduate school options.

Understanding the role of people like myself in making the world a better place was an incredible leadership building experience. I was able to bring the speaker from Tennessee to Ohio State to speak to over 1,000 students on campus. Additionally, Nicholas has stayed as a connection and he became a consultant for the UN. This summer in New York, I hope to meet with him and see what exit opportunities are available for business school graduates. This experience overall helped me link my passion to my long term career path.