Social Impact Days at Kellogg: An Inspirational Experience
by Babatunde Oladosu, 2Y 2021
“Welcome to Kellogg,” beamed Professor Megan Kashner, director of social impact, that bright August morning. It was the beginning of my Kellogg journey, and I found it fitting that I started out with Social Impact Days. And what a time I had!
I had applied to Kellogg specifically because I felt it would give me the best opportunity to grow my social enterprise into a global business. I wanted to be in a business school that would develop my leadership and business skills, but also provide both academic and experiential opportunities to start a social enterprise. Kellogg seemed to walk the talk on social impact; SID was a great chance to evaluate how the school achieves this.
Per the SID mission, the event presents an opportunity for impact-oriented incoming students to learn more about how they can impact the planet and their communities positively, by designing innovative solutions and committing themselves to behaviors that create positive impact. At SID, students learn about social impact across the Kellogg spectrum of courses, experiences and careers, from incredible speakers, and innovate in teams. It culminates in a student pitch competition, recognitions and prizes. One of the most impressive things about SID is that a good number of attendees are students who are not necessarily focused on social impact and are looking for how to integrate a compass for social benefit in their work.
A glimpse into Kellogg Social Impact Days, and why you should plan to attend next August
Kellogg alumni Motunrayo Bankole ’19 and Chioma Aladi ’18 had told me of the impressive diversity at Kellogg, and I got a short course on diversity while sitting at my first table during SID. In a group of eight, there were nationals of six countries from four continents. Prior to Kellogg, these people had worked in education, energy, technology, financial services and consulting. And all of them were interested in social impact!
I have always believed that social problems require business tools and mindsets that have served traditional business well, so I was glad when Professor Kashner and Professor Karin O’Connor introduced the Intentional Impact Canvas, a framework for getting to the heart of social problems and developing workable solutions that could be effectively deployed with a business mindset.
I was impressed by how this framework challenges potential social entrepreneurs to examine both the root causes and the context which makes social problems exist. Also, I loved that the canvas requires social entrepreneurs to consider the revenue model and cost structure of their potential solution. That was a lot of business education in 90 minutes. I was excited about Kellogg already!
Before the day, candidates were asked to choose one of four tracks in which they were most motivated to solve a social problem. The most innovative and workable solution in each track was selected to present to a panel of academics, business leaders and social leaders. The themes centered on ensuring educational opportunity transcended inequalities in our societies, making affordable healthcare universally affordable, harnessing the power of functioning financial and resource markets to mitigate climate change, and helping organizations drive positive impact for their workforce and host communities.
I joined a team seeking to expand educational opportunity and access. My team of six developed a solution tagged “A Tale of Two Cities,” seeking to start super magnet schools that use pooled funds from school districts based on ability to pay to deliver a-ha moments in learning to children from both high- and low-income districts. Although I felt so impressed about this solution, we were edged out by Teacher’s Tech, a team that pitched a data analytics software to help teachers better serve both high- and low-performing students. Still, I was grateful for the feedback from the judges.
Perhaps, the highlight of SID for me was the expert panel session. Just in case you got the impression that choosing one track prevented you from exploring solutions in other important social tracks, experts in all four tracks had 15 minutes each to discuss their work, key trends in their track and the opportunities Kellogg offers if we wanted to explore those tracks further. I got invaluable exposure into the courses, labs, treks and other experiential opportunities that Kellogg offers the socially minded student.
And there was time for a keynote address. Carmita Semaan ’04, founder and president of the Surge Institute, advised candidates to stay true to their true selves and maximize the opportunities that Kellogg offers to impact society. Warning candidates not to wear masks that obscure their inner selves, she reminded us of Mystique the Marvel hero, who loses some little part of her original powers and sense of self every time she changes.
SID was a wonderful opportunity to make friends. Every day at the Global Hub, I see and chat with someone who was at SID. We smile and maybe check up on what the other is doing. Kellogg is a supportive school with awesome people, and SID is such an early opportunity to meet them.