What does it take to have social impact? In the first annual Social Impact Symposium, leaders from business sector lay it all out.
On May 12 the first annual Social Impact Symposium was hosted by The Institute for Student Business Education, Students Consulting for Non-Profits, and LEND, a Northwestern non-profit. The symposium included speeches from three business professionals with experience in social impact and concluded with a Q&A session.
ISBE President, Rohan Meta, said the symposium was one step toward helping students determine “how to use [their] skills to make an impact on the community.”
Luke Sundheim, a Northwestern alum and Vice President of Commercial Lending at Chase Bank in Evanston, spoke first. He noted that many leaders in business also have a non-profit role.
“What drove me back to Evanston is the community,” Sundheim said, who works closely with LEND, helping small-business owners receive loans and pro-bono training.
Sundheim was followed by Seth Green, Executive Director of Youth and Opportunity United, a non-profit which promotes student success by providing extracurricular opportunities. Green also works as a Northwestern professor, leading the business institutions course, CampusCatalyst, which provides the opportunity for Northwestern students to gain experience in non-profit consulting.
“You should be totally committed to making a difference in the world,” Green said.
Prior to his non-profit work, Green worked as a consultant at McKinsey & Company. He saw the experience as an opportunity for growth as leader and business professional. Although he believed that McKinsey & Company had a consistent set of core values, he came to realize that they were not values that drove him as an individual.
“Any place you join should reinforce your values and make you proud of what you do” said Green.
The event’s final speech was given by Amy Silverstein, Chief of Staff of Deloitte’s Social Impact Practice. She discussed the ways in which Deloitte creates solutions across the private, public, and social sectors and noted that there are many ways to make an impact, but that it is essential to leverage your individual skills.
“I firmly believe in having a foundation in something,” Silverstein said, adding, “You want to make your brand and use that to advance social impact or an issue that you care about.”
In addition to core business skills, Silverstein pointed to three characteristics she views as essential to social impact work: clarity of inner voice, a level of irrational courage, and the commitment to be all in.