Booth Net Impact Conference


A growing interest for students is the focus on Social Enterprise. Chicago Booth has many opportunities for students interested in this area. This past Friday Chicago Booth Social Enterprise Initiative along with Conference Title sponsors Bain & Company and Chevron hosted the 2013 Chicago Booth Net Impact Conference at Gleacher Center. There was a varied array of speakers, topics and sessions at the full-day conference. This year the sessions focused on specific topics in social impact such as education, arts & culture, corporate social responsibility, healthcare, impact investing, big data and environment & sustainability. In case you missed it, here a brief recap:

The morning was kicked off by Stacey Kole, Deputy Dean, Full-time program, followed by Keynote Mike Ray (’87) Vice President, Business Integration & strategy, Integrated Supply Chain at IBM. Ray spoke in-depth about IBM’s emphasis on corporate sustainability and responsibility. He explained to the audience that being recognized as “sustainable” is not enough; to be effective the philosophy must be part of the ecosystem of the business. Taking it one step further, those we do business with must be on-board and do the same.”

Morning & afternoon sessions were broken down into 6 categories featuring Booth alumni as panelists. In the morning Education session, Alumna Carrie Sweeney (’11) Consultant at Bain & Company, along with panelists Eileen Murphy, Founder & CEO, ThinkCERCA, Ami Gandhi, Curriculum Coordinator at Intrinsic Schools, and Gabrielle Lyon, PhD, Co-Founder, Project Exploration, answered questions about changing trends in urban education as well as education technology. When asked if they had a magic wand and could change anything about urban education, all included the need for additional resources, teacher training & need to empower students through individualized education by utilizing, but not relying on, technology.

After lunch the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship offered the “Opportunity Identification” workshop allowing attendees to quickly prototype entrepreneurial solutions to problems in the world- both big and small. They learned quickly how to frame problems, identify needs, and then how to go about testing assumptions.

Afternoon sessions were equally stimulating. Alumnus Brian Axelrad (’09), Chief Investment Office, Beyond Capital, along with Steve Napelton, Senior Investment Officer, TriLinc Global, Abby Ross, Co-founder, ThinkCERCA and Patrick Haugh, Vice President, Chicago Public Education Fund answered questions about Impact Investing. When asked to define “social impact” all 4 panelists had very different answers. Social Impact is not cookie cutter, “there’s no magic definition” said Axelrad. “It’s what’s important to you- what you think needs to be fixed."

Are you interested in learning more about the Social Enterprise Initiative or interested in getting involved? Check out the upcoming events- (*note listings for public & students only): 

October 21: Social Impact Leadership Series: Sendhil Mullainathan Scarcity: A Talk for People too Busy to Attend Talks. Gleacher Center | 6-7:30PM| Open to the public

October 29: New Venture/Social New Venture Challenge Kickoff: Information, Best Practices, Team Formation, Networking. Harper Center| 6-8PM| U-Chicago students only

November 6: Social Impact Leadership Series: Chris Balme & Art Bilger Founder & Funder: A Conversation about Spark, a rapidly-scaling education non-profit. Gleacher Center | 6-7:30PM| Open to public

For more on Social Enterprise Initiative & upcoming events visit: