Like many former Peace Corps volunteers, I hope to save the world someday. I don’t have any brilliant, poverty-ending business ideas at this point (mosquito net that doubles as a fishing net? or generator that runs on sand?), but I’d like to support those who do. Recently, I sidled two steps closer to that goal.
Step 1: Net Impact Week-in-Cities
Various student clubs at Fuqua run Week-in-Cities trips, during which a group travels to a city to learn more about a specific industry and its key businesses. During fall break, I went on one of these trips to D.C., organized by the Net Impact Club. Usually, students float from business to business, taking notes and spraying the offices with questions and business cards, but through some miracle of coordination, most of our panels took place in the Duke Office of Federal Relations. Did you know that existed? I didn’t.
In any case, the panel approach meant that we got to interact with representatives from more than 15 local organizations. The panels were arranged by topic, so if you wanted to work in education, you took copious notes when reps from the D.C. public school system and the KIPP charter schools were on a panel. Trying to go overseas? Listen closely while Chemonics and Winrock International delegates talk about their work. We rounded it off with panels on sustainability consulting, social finance, and good ol’ sustainability.
On top of everything, we spent an afternoon at the headquarters of KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that promotes children’s play by facilitating playground builds, among other efforts. KaBOOM! co-founder and CEO Darell Hammond spoke to us about social entrepreneurship and gave us signed copies of his best-selling book about the formation of KaBOOM!. He also gave us cookies and cider. Can’t forget the cookies and cider.
May I also just highlight the fact that KaBOOM! has the greatest office in the world? Long-time employees have caricatures on the wall, there was an artist painting a mural while we were having our meeting, and there’s a tire swing. Yes, we swung on it.
Step 2: Net Impact Conference
Thousands of socially-minded business folk descended upon Baltimore during the weekend of October 26 to share ideas and hear the oracles of the social impact space deliver their message of good tidings and corporate responsibility. In a word, it was awesome. In two words, it was chaotic awesomeness. In 413 words, you can read more about it on the Fuqua Net Impact blog.
Here at Fuqua, our Management Communications class teaches us to make our biggest points up front, so here’s a key takeaway from the conference: the Fuqua Net Impact Club was awarded Graduate Chapter of the Year! Pretty snazzy. Almost makes you want to come to Fuqua just to join Net Impact, doesn’t it?