Panelists champion careers in social good

At a Monday event hosted by Net Impact, panelists discussed socially conscious careers.
At a Monday event hosted by Net Impact, panelists discussed socially conscious careers. Photo by Jennifer Cheung.

For all Yale students considering investment banking, Doug Hausladen ’04 has a message for you: Do not go to the dark side.

The undergraduate organization Net Impact hosted an event to launch its organization on Tuesday that aimed to inspire Yale students to explore the field of social enterprise — or socially-conscious entrepreneurship. The panel included Hausladen, Ward 7 Alderman and the co-founder of ActualFood; Barry Nalebuff, co-founder of Honest Tea and professor at the Yale School of Management; Maxim Thorne LAW ‘92, former vice president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; Cary Krosinsky, senior vice president of TruCost; and Kate Cooney, an SOM professor. At the talk, the speakers explored their definitions of social enterprise and suggested an alternative to traditional careers in business or non-profits.

“The point of social enterprise is to show that we can start a business that treats customers as responsible and intelligent,” Nalebuff said.

All speakers agreed that prioritizing a company’s social benefit is a critical element of any career. Nalebuff said at Honest Tea, he tries not to focus on economic losses incured by socially-responsible business practices and rather concentrates on customer loyalty fostered by its sustainable and health-conscious mission.

Hausladen said he thinks too many students enter the fields of investment banking or consulting, two careers that do not take improving the lives of others into account.

“The consulting business will survive without you,” he said. “My pitch is the world needs you. You have the privilege of a Yale education.”

But the panelists said they acknowledged the limitations of social enterprise, explaining that the private sector cannot resolve large-scale issues such as environmental degradation.

Krosinsky, whose firm measures the environmental impact of other companies, said society is “heading toward a cliff environmentally,” and the only way to address climate change is through public policy.

Cooney said she was pleased with the diversity of experiences of social enterprise featured in the event.

“One thing I hope students learned from this event is that social enterprise is a field in evolution,” Cooney told the News. “It’s a field with a heterogeneous group of organizations and cross-sectors.”

Kaity Hsieh ’15, a Net Impact board member who helped organize the event, said she hoped to draw students with a variety of interests to the panel by conveying the breadth of options available in the social enterprise field.

“We tried to incorporate elements ranging from sustainability to social justice,” she said, “and we thought having Barry Nalebuff was importance since Honest Tea is an example of a company that has been extremely successful commercially, and not just locally.”

Net Impact President Schuyler Arakawa ’15 said she appreciated that students who are not associated with Net Impact attended the panel, even though the Yale chapter was just founded at the beginning of the semester.

Students interviewed said they left the event feeling inspired and better-informed about career choices.

Sandra Medrano ’15 said she felt the panel offered a range of perspectives, effectively balancing knowledgeable professors and practicing social entrepreneurs.

Andrew Stein ’16, a Net Impact member, said he was excited to hear about successful social enterprises, adding that the many programs Yale offers for burgeoning entrepreneurs factored into his college selection.

Net Impact is a San-Francisco-based 501(c)3 non-profit with over 300 chapters worldwide that promotes socially and environmentally sustainable business,

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