Business as a way to give back
Growing up with a strong sense of social responsibility, Chris Bertucci ’24 MBA saw the power of giving back at an early age and has dedicated his career to serve a collective purpose. Read more to learn about his MBA journey and his experience participating during Social Impact Days at Kellogg.
How has your background informed you in wanting to pursue a career within the social impact space?
I grew up on Chicago’s Near West Side, at a crossroads of the city’s wealthiest and poorest neighborhoods. I played baseball at the local park district field where kids from every part of the community came together to compete, but beyond the baseball diamond the economic disparity was stark. This experience broadened my perspective and offered a glimpse into the harsh realities that many of my teammates and neighbors faced in the surrounding area. While attending a Jesuit high school, I was inspired to serve by my ethics teacher, a Marine Corps veteran, and by my mother, a nurse who dedicated her entire career to tirelessly serving Chicago-area residents with diabetes. My commitment to service initially led me to pursue a commission as a U.S. Marine Corps officer but there are many ways to serve. I view the social impact space as a way to continue fulfilling my commitment.
What motivated you to get an MBA? Why now and why Kellogg?
After serving for 11 years in the Marine Corps, I transitioned from active duty to become a business leader who can help address the inequities I witnessed as a child. While I loved being a Marine, I felt this was a pivotal time to take on many of the social challenges that Chicago and cities like it face. I realized that business, particularly real estate investment and development, can be hugely impactful in addressing these challenges.
I chose to pursue an MBA to gain the tools necessary to maximize my positive contributions. Kellogg stands out among top business schools for its unique and deliberate focus on social impact as well as a strong real estate curriculum. Participating in the school’s Social Impact Days was an incredible introduction to what Kellogg has to offer.
What impressed you the most during Social Impact Days at Kellogg, or did you have any key takeaways?
What impressed me most about Social Impact Days was the quality of the impact ventures that students developed in a very short amount of time as part of the pitch competition. I believe this level of quality was possible for two main reasons. First, the faculty and guest speakers provided participants with a common framework for thinking about specific social problems, potential solutions and the many stakeholders involved. The second factor was the talent and motivation of my classmates. Everyone brought a unique energy to the event and focused on a variety of different issues, but we were united in a common goal of positive social change.
Social Impact Days also felt very personal for me. Professor William Towns, a national market president at the innovative housing development firm Gorman, highlighted the positive impact of the same Chicago development projects that initially sparked my interest in commercial real estate. The keynote speaker was Dorri McWhorter ’09 MBA, president and CEO of YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago. I played YMCA basketball in Chicago as a kid but hearing about her leadership and the business side of this nonprofit gave the experience a whole new meaning.
The Social Impact Pathway allows students to dive deeper into a specific career path to effect change. Is there a certain professional track you’re targeting?
I plan to focus my academic experience and professional development at the intersection of commercial real estate and social impact. The two often overlap, and I was glad to hear real estate discussed during Social Impact Days. Kellogg offers both Social Impact and Real Estate Pathways, which I will combine to better prepare for a career in real estate development focused on positive community impact.
Are there any courses you’re particularly excited about, and what about these courses spoke to you?
Within the Social Impact Pathway, I am particularly excited about Board Governance for Nonprofit Organizations. I recently joined the board of a Chicago nonprofit focused on empowering at-risk youth, and this course will help me to be a more effective board member. In addition to foundational courses in the Real Estate Pathway, I am excited for Urban Economic Development and Real Estate Market Analysis, which is especially relevant to my post-Kellogg goals.
Another course I plan to take is Public Economics for Business Leaders: State and Local Policy, which falls within both the Real Estate and Social Impact Pathways and focuses on several of the social issues that I hope to address.
Congratulations on being one of 15 Austin Scholars; what does being part of this community mean to you?
Having met the other Austin Scholars, I can certainly say we don’t fit a specific mold. Before arriving at Kellogg, I even asked one of the faculty mentors whether there are any trends in what Austin Scholars tend to focus on at Kellogg or post-MBA. His response absolutely reflects my experience so far: Austin Scholars focus on a variety of careers just like the rest of the student body; however, there is a definite intention to make a positive difference in the world one way or another. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Austin Scholar community, and I feel that it strengthens my sense of social responsibility.
What would you say to someone considering Kellogg as their choice for business school?
It seems like the resources available at Kellogg are tailored for my intended path. However, when I zoom out from the highlights of the program that are special to me, I realize that Kellogg, and its Social Impact ecosystem truly offer something for everyone. Regardless of your goals in business or social impact, Kellogg offers the breadth and depth of academic and co-curricular opportunities that will allow you to chart your ideal path.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I am a proud father of two with one more on the way. Kellogg is a very welcoming environment for families. For anyone with children or who may have a child during business school, I don’t think there is a better program than Kellogg.
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