What I learned during Net Impact Week 2016
At Kellogg, we’re deeply committed to developing the next generation of socially responsible leaders. Social impact is woven throughout all aspects of the student experience, including course offerings, academic research, career services and experiential learning opportunities.
One notable experiential learning opportunity is Net Impact Week, a series of events organized by Kellogg’s Net Impact Club. Through a number of alumni panels, workshops and community service opportunities, Net Impact Week invites students — and the broader Kellogg community — to drive social change using the power of business.
Below, student H. Kay Howard shares personal insights that she gained during Net Impact Week 2016.
Just one year ago, I kicked off my Kellogg School journey with Net Impact Week, an event that allowed me to find and engage with “my people” – those who came to business school with an interest in driving profit and making a positive impact on the world.
That week, I met the key protagonists of my social impact experience at Kellogg; I befriended the classmates who would later help me prep for social sector consulting interviews, and I bonded with students that later shared the life-changing experience of traveling to Kenya and Tanzania for my Global Immersion in Management (GIM) trip.
As a second-year student who now serves in a leadership role for Kellogg’s Net Impact Club, I was incredibly excited for my second Net Impact Week, but doubted that it would be as formative as the first… However, I was wrong!
This year’s Net Impact Week was equally impactful, teaching attendees how to #IncorporateImpact into their lives and careers, and also pushed participants to dig deeper towards truly understanding the communities we seek to serve by challenging us to go beyond “our people” and our preconceived ideas. The theme of impact and inclusion resonated throughout the week’s programming, with inspiring overtones from my classmates that reinvigorated me to spend more time listening and learning before taking action.
This theme was especially evident during the Social Entrepreneurs at Kellogg panel, where classmates shared the highs and lows of starting their own social enterprises while in business school. Tiffany Smith ’17, co-founder of Tiltas (formerly OrangePrint), a platform that connects formerly incarcerated men and women with employment opportunities, discussed how venturing into a prison gave her fresh, first-hand insight about her startup. By having one-on-one conversations with inmates, Tiffany was able to identify the true needs of her clients and build stronger solutions for overcoming the barriers associated with job placements.
During the Incorporating Impact into your Life panel, Professors Linda Darragh and Paul Christensen discussed the importance of immersing yourself in another culture in order to realize the emotions, values and societal context of a group before attempting to craft solutions for consumers. Professor Christiansen emphasized that it is important to pursue inclusive growth – economic growth that uplifts everyone, instead of widening the income gap.
One of the most powerful takeaways from Net Impact Week came from Richard Odior ’17 and his encouragement to translate “head to heart to action”. During the event Why Kellogg Wore Black, he called for students to gain awareness, cultivate empathy and act accordingly to address systematic racism in our broader society and to support classmates who experience that discrimination.
After a week of gaining awareness and practicing empathy, I hope that the Kellogg student body is inspired not only to #IncorporateImpact into their future actions, but also to continually return to the “head to heart” phase of listening, assessing the intricate environmental, social and inclusion challenges faced by different populations in order to inform an effective plan of action for impact. I personally plan to keep this mantra in mind in my discussions with my classmates and my future career.
Interested in learning more about Kellogg’s world-class Social Impact programming? Visit kellogg.northwestern.edu/social-impact.aspx today!
H. Kay Howard is a second-year student in Kellogg’s Full-Time Two-Year Program. She is the Net Impact Club treasurer, Education Industry Club president and a board fellow for the Howard Area Community Center. This past summer, she interned at the Civic Consulting Alliance, a Chicago-based public sector consulting firm.