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Graduating MBAs Encouraged to “Do Good”

April 14, 2008
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 Do Good
Daniella Levine speaks to graduating MBA students.
About 100 of the University of Miami’s soon-to-graduate MBA students gathered April 3rd to listen to two highly influential individuals from the non-profit sector.  Daniella Levine, founder and executive director of the Human Services Coalition, and Jack Edwards, senior advisor of Ashoka, spoke to the students for two hours, discussing the work of their organizations and their roles in them.

Levine opened her speech with the statement, “I’m here to tell you that you can have it all.” Levine suggested that ‘having it all’ in one’s career involves three components: making money, doing ‘good,’ and having fun.  Her talk stressed the importance of giving back to the community while being prosperous.

She asked the students to consider what they would want to be remembered for at their retirement and their funeral. When she took a poll, fewer than five students raised their hands when asked if they wanted to be remembered for the profits they made in business. Yet about a third raised their hands when asked if they wanted to be remembered for their contributions to the community.

“You can do well while doing good,” she told the students.  Indeed, Levine knows a lot about both doing well and doing ‘good.’ HSC, which she founded in 1995, addresses issues of income disparity, poverty and economic development. The Prosperity Campaign, one of the most successful programs, realized a 1,000 times return on investment. The Knight Foundation invested $250,000 and the program reaped $250 million in economic impact to the community in its first full year of operation.

On a topic of likely interest to the students, Levine pointed out the demand for business skills in the non-profit employment world. “There are ample opportunities for you,” she told the students, specifying sales and marketing skills as sought after abilities in the sector. She identified three qualities as key to a successful career in the non-profits: resourcefulness, leadership, and collaboration.

Edwards spoke about the topic of social entrepreneurism and his own career of supporting it.   Edwards described the concept as “an idea whose time has come,” pointing out that two of the last four Nobel Peace Prize winners have been social entrepreneurs.

Edwards discussed Ashoka, a 27-year-old organization that is specifically focused on social entrepreneurship. The mission of the organization is to elect and support leading social entrepreneurs from all over the world who are making a significant difference. He describes social entrepreneurs as individuals who use innovative solutions to solve society’s most pressing problems.  Ashoka has provided more than 1,800 elected leaders in the world of social change with living stipends, professional support in their missions, and association with a global network of their peers.  Edwards shared numerous stories of social entrepreneurs who have been assisted by Ashoka and the inspiring differences they made to solve various social problems.

Like Levine, Edwards also pointed out the need for businesspeople in the non-profit sector.  He stressed the need for any non-profit organization to have its own “profitable arm” to raise funds. This is where business skills come into play. “As an organization, you need to be able to be self-sustaining,” he explained. “You don’t want to rely solely on donors.”

The event was arranged by Ann Olazabal and Anita Cava, associate professors of business law.

 “We want students to think about business in a larger sense,” said Cava, director of the UM Business Ethics Program.  “We want them to consider their responsibilities not only as business people, but also as individuals who are and will be pillars of their community.”
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