As Booth’s hub for people tackling complex social and environmental problems, the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation is working to help these Booth students positively impact humanity and our planet.
The Rustandy Center reached out to alumna Lauren Magnusson, ’15, Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG), Trust and Transparency at Walmart, to learn about her Booth experience and some of the programs and resources that helped her pursue a career in social impact.
Why did you decide to come to Booth to pursue a career in social impact?
I decided to come to Booth because I wanted to obtain skills that I could use to advance the social sector in ways that were more meaningful than what I was doing at the time. I wanted to create more impact. Booth’s leadership in both quantitative skills and strategic management would equip me with those skills and I’ve been using them ever since.
The Rustandy Center was just starting out when I was at Booth, and I learned about the center online before school started. Upon arriving to campus, I connected with its programming and the Booth courses they supported. I’m happy to see how its offerings to students have grown over the years and think the center is a huge asset to the Booth community.
What is your career background and were you always interested in the social impact space?
Social impact was always something I had done on the side, but my focus had been international business throughout undergrad. After graduation, a year in AmeriCorps set me on a path to do a Fulbright Program fellowship and nonprofit work. I loved the work, but it lacked scale and larger impact. In my ESG (environmental, social, governance) work at Walmart now, I feel like I’ve found a sweet spot of both fulfillment in work and impact.
Are there any experiences that stick out to you as especially important while at Booth?
A pivotal point for me while at Booth was when I decided to take a non-social impact full-time offer, which I know many people debate. It’s a hard decision on whether to go directly into social impact after business school or to gain other experiences before going back. It looks different for everyone and deserves some solid time of self-reflection. My couple years in finance undeniably help me in my ESG role, but the ESG role was just created a year ago, so it’s hard to career plan for these things. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to make the “right” decision.
As a side note, since graduation I’ve often gone back to look at the curriculum from Booth’s Social Enterprise Lab course, taught by Christina Hachikian, AB ’02, MBA ’07, adjunct associate professor of strategy at Booth and executive director of the Rustandy Center. I’ve found it very helpful and relevant when giving organization leadership an overview of the history and evolution of the field (e.g., origins and rise of B-corps) and implications for future strategic planning and partnerships.
How did your time here help you reach your short- and long-term career goals?
My time at Booth and with the Rustandy Center has proven invaluable in the social sector and corporate space. Influence is one of the most valuable qualities I’ve seen in the field, and Booth equips you with skills that ladder up to strong credibility. You’re taught how to solve problems in a unique way that makes influencing others easier because you can logically and thoughtfully lay out solutions to complicated issues. Short-term goals often require the analytical rigor Booth teaches, but when they’re paired with the long-term strategic thinking, which demonstrates leadership, then you really see results.
The last thing I’ll say is that the social impact space needs more Booth MBAs in it to solve some really complex problems!