Club Spotlight: Net Impact

The following post was written by Keenan Heyward, 2021 MBA candidate and member of Net Impact

Keenan Heyward '21 (MBA)

Keenan Heyward ’21 (MBA)

Coming into Simon, one of my top goals was to learn more about how business can positively impact society and how I can utilize my skill set to support this endeavor. While researching MBA programs, I learned about an organization called Net Impact, whose stated goal is to mobilize next-generation leaders to use their skills and careers to make a positive impact on the world. Since becoming a member of Simon’s chapter, I have enjoyed interacting with MBA and master’s students who are eager to positively impact society and have furthered my growth as a social impact leader by participating in insightful events and projects.

One such event was a guest lecture by Kevin Callahan, who was most recently the VP of enterprise social responsibility at The Walt Disney Company. Kevin’s depth of social impact experience is impressive, and he was gracious in sharing what he has learned thus far and how we can help organizations see corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a strategic investment rather than a discretionary expense.

From Kevin’s point of view, CSR is growing in importance due to a variety of factors, including the growth of the socially responsible investor community, the breakdown of trust in our institutions, and changes in consumer and worker attitudes towards companies conducting business responsibly. In response to these factors, Kevin walked through the steps that Disney took to make CSR a core part of their business strategy, such as acting upon the customer feedback they received regarding their social responsibility and conducting research that uncovered a direct correlation between how consumers felt about the brand and how much they spent with the brand. To Disney, CSR is an opportunity to eliminate risk as well as gain a competitive advantage. Tying CSR to business growth is the way forward in the modern world.

Going forward, Kevin believes that future business leaders like my fellow Net Impact members will play a key role in boosting the prevalence of CSR at major corporations by being able to communicate the business case for CSR as a growth strategy and by bringing continuous innovation to the space.

Simon Net Impact had a great time at the Net Impact conference in Detroit Oct. 24–26. Alumnae Jennifer Edwards '17S (MBA), Mikayla Hart '16S (MBA), and Sarah Spoto '17S (MBA) joined Meg Litvinenko, director of student life, Matt Sisto '21S (MBA), Keenan Heyward '21S (MBA), Amanda Bickford '21S (MBA), Justine Lazo '20S (MBA), Jessi Garhart '21S (MBA), Tady Chen '20S (MBA), Emily Bader '20S (MBA), Greg Arnold '20S (MBA), and Juana Johnson '21S (MBA) at Detroit’s Women in Mobility event on Oct. 24 (organized by Sarah Spoto).

Simon Net Impact had a great time at the Net Impact conference in Detroit Oct. 24–26. Alumnae Jennifer Edwards ’17 (MBA), Mikayla Hart ’16 (MBA), and Sarah Spoto ’17 (MBA) joined Meg Litvinenko, director of student life, and Simon MBAs Matt Sisto ’21, Keenan Heyward ’21, Amanda Bickford ’21, Justine Lazo ’20, Jessi Garhart ’21, Tady Chen ’20, Emily Bader ’20, Greg Arnold ’20, and Juana Johnson ’21 at Detroit’s Women in Mobility event on Oct. 24 (organized by Sarah Spoto).

The best part of being a member of Net Impact is the wide variety of activities we remain involved in. Just about a week after Kevin’s excellent talk, twelve of us, including two alumni and our amazing advisor—Meg Litvinenko, director of student life—headed to Detroit for the annual Net Impact Conference. This conference was my first as a Net Impact member and will definitely not be my last.

The atmosphere of the conference was energetic, invigorating, and inspirational. Amongst many other impactful moments, I learned about the amazing work of organizations like Empowerment Project and BlackFemaleProject, networked with members of Net Impact chapters from around the world, and enjoyed my first taste of a Beyond Burger thanks to the meat-free nature of the conference. Also, it was humbling to see Simon Net Impact recognized on stage as a Gold status chapter—many thanks to the great work of previous Net Impact leaders and members.

Joining Net Impact has already proven to be one of the best decisions I have made thus far as a student at Simon, and I look forward to supporting the group in pursuit of our goal of earning Graduate Chapter of the Year at next year’s conference!

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