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MBA Social Impact & Responsibility Club - Year in Review

August 25, 2020. Shanghai – Soon after the MBA class of 2021 started in August 2019, Carol Duan and Nakul Sangolli came together with their shared background in the field of social responsibility and a common passion for a sustainable future. They also found an ally in Cindy Wang who – although she did not have prior background in the field – was equally passionate about social impact and responsibility. Together they ran for leadership of the MBA Social Impact & Responsibility Club, one of 17 current MBA student clubs.

Contesting with the values of ‘Connect – Nurture – Care’, and a mission “To converge, lead and develop the CEIBS community to experience social impact and sustainability, creating a culture of doing good in the present and for the future,” team CNC (Carol, Nakul and Cindy) was elected to take the reins of the MBA Social Impact & Responsibility Club.

2019-2020 in review

The team set out to serve, not only the way they wanted to serve but also the way their classmates wanted to be served.

“The survey we conducted when contesting elections made us realise that people with no social responsibility background had quite different expectations about the club from what we had originally thought. So we focused a lot of our events on introducing the very concept to our classmates” says Nakul.

Limited by the impact of COVID-19, the club nevertheless managed to organise a series of activities over the past year.

Investment banker turned social entrepreneur – The kick-off event was a visit to a social enterprise, Chi Heng Foundation (智行基金会). There, founder Chung To shared his inspirational journey that took him from the banks of Wall Street to rural China, where in 2002 he established a foundation to care for orphans who had lost their families due to AIDS. Since its inception, the foundation has gone on to support over 22,000 students, with 4,000 attending university. The cohort sought to understand how businesses can have a purpose and yet adhere to market characteristics of maintaining the highest quality and standards in products and services while aiming to generate higher returns year on year.

B-Corps: Making responsibility the new cool – The next event was a visit to the B-Corps offices with MBA2016 alumna and Director of B-Corps China Min Ko. B-Crops is an organisation that certifies businesses which balance purpose and profit. The students also played “Building Better Business” a newly developed B-Corps board game. Through the game, the cohort learned about the core tenets of running a responsible business through a stakeholder approach where the focus is not only on nurturing one’s employees but also on co-creating value for society as a whole.

COVID-19: Stepping up during crisis – As Wuhan was first hit during the COVID-19 crisis, many student from the CEIBS MBA class of 2021 stepped up to do their part, giving remote counselling to offer guidance and necessary support to teenagers from the affected city. Although a small act, by volunteering to be mentors for youth in remote villages during a critical time like the COVID-19 crisis, the cohort realised the value of giving and sharing and the meaning one could derive from such acts.

Impact investment sharing by a veteran investor – Through a sharing from William Feng, an angel investor who focuses on sustainability and impact investing, students learned how to build a career in assessing companies which add value to society and also learned to measure impact in ways relevant to the problems being solved.

Malaysia module (non-club activity) – As one of the annual overseas electives on the MBA programme, 30 students joined CEIBS Professor of Economics Bala Ramasamy for a five-day course in Malaysia to explore Leadership for Social Responsibility. As they mentored young children, it was more an opportunity to reflect on their journeys so far and also plan ahead, for a more responsible and inclusive future.

Road Ahead

In the end, through their collective efforts, Carol, Nakul, and Cindy won the Student Committee’s Special Award for their contribution to the class. They had sought to introduce corporate social impact and responsibility to their classmates and furthermore show how it is not just a side activity for the companies but also a very real career choice now. The team also credits their faculty advisor CEIBS Professor of Marketing Lydia Price for guiding them and setting their expectations right at the very beginning.

The COIVD-19 crisis has made it critical to think about our communities and how actions affect not only us but those around us. The club events ensured that students could leverage their entrepreneurship skill to be a social entrepreneur, or investment skill to be a social impact investor as William, or to be a volunteer to empower people in need. The hope for MBA 2021 would be to uniquely leverage this experience to find inner meaning and make a difference in the lives of others.