Smith School Launches Center for Social Value Creation with
The University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business launched its
new Center for Social Value Creation on Sept. 25 with a one-day event in
Washington, D.C., that explored how leaders create, lead and sustain
organizations for social impact while meeting business goals. More than 250
attendees from the public, private and nonprofit sectors packed the auditorium
at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, also home to the
Smith School’s Washington, D.C., campus.
The inaugural forum, “Leadership for a Better World: Creating Social Value
Through Innovation,” was co-sponsored by the Smith School’s Center for Social
Value Creation and Center for International Business Education and Research.
“Every speaker had a unique message that was just fantastic and the event
flowed from beginning to end. The central themes about entrepreneurship, making
a difference, and using your particular skills no matter what you do, are so
important,” said Melissa Carrier, executive director of the Center for Social
Carrier joined Smith School Dean G. “Anand” Anandalingam to kick off the
daylong conference and welcomed the inspiring mix of top industry leaders and
thought-provoking speakers. Honest Tea CEO and founder Seth Goldman spoke of the
way profitability and social good align in his organization. Goldman related
some of the challenges his company faced in their pursuit of sustainability,
including balancing a recent bottle redesign that used 22% less plastic, but
posed some engineering challenges and required a communications effort with
customers unaccustomed to the new look.
Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor, Harvard Business School,
author, and the second featured speaker of the morning, illustrated the
unexpected ways in which profitability and social good align. She shared the
story of Diageo, the largest alcoholic beverage company in the world, which
bought an east African brewing company and helped solve a major public health
problem in Kenya by making affordable beer with clean water to replace homemade
brews made with contaminated local water that caused blindness. Supercorp,
Kanter’s new book, examines the business practices of “vanguard”
companies—highly profitable and successful organizations that put social value
at the heart of the enterprise.
In a panel discussion moderated by Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company
magazine, Smith School professors Rachelle Sampson, assistant professor of
logistics, business and public policy; Oliver Schlake, Tyser Teaching Fellow of
management and organization; and Ritu Agarwal, Robert H. Smith Dean's Chair of
Information Systems; doled out some practical advice for aspiring social
innovators in a lively question-and-answer session. Much of their conversation
focused on changing corporate culture.
Two breakout sessions rounded out the morning – one, an interactive workshop
that had participants learning how to use service innovation to reinvigorate
their organizations, led by leaders from business development consultancy
Anerian LLC. The other session addressed public-private partnerships with
Richard Kiy, president and CEO of International Community Foundation,
highlighting a case study of the U.S.-Mexico border’s response in overcoming
barrier to health care access.
Event participants enjoyed the opportunity to network while sharing lunch
before hearing from Shirley Sagawa, co-founder of Sagawa/Jospin, on how
government and nonprofits can solve problems together. She was followed by lunch
keynote Thomas Schelling, Nobel Laureate and Distinguished University Professor,
Emeritus, of the University of Maryland. Schelling talked about climate change
and mass cooperation needed to combat this global problem.
After lunch Paul Light, the Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at
New York University, talked about his research on social entrepreneurship and
assumptions he thought were myths, but actually turned about to be true. Light’s
research provides ample support for the assertions that social entrepreneurs are
optimistic and confident and continually innovate by applying tried business
application to new problems.
Next was a presentation and discussion led by producer and filmmaker Charles
Stuart. Stuart collaborated on the acclaimed PBS series, “The New Heroes,” that
featured social entrepreneurs from around the world. He showed clips from the
series that he had produced, including interviewing Muhammad Yunus, the
Bangladeshi banker and economist who created microcredit, and other
entrepreneurs in Africa and Egypt.
The day wrapped up with concurrent sessions. One was led by Shannon Hebert,
vice president of integrated marketing with National Geographic Global Media,
who talked about strategies to communicate social responsibilities practices and
National Geographic case studies. The other was a panel discussion on how to
scale a social enterprise, measure success and remain competitive, tackled by
moderator Heather Peeler of Community Wealth Ventures with Mike Curtin, CEO of
DC Central Kitchen; and Brian Gaines, a vice president with College Summit.
The forum was the official launch event of the Smith School’s Center for
Social Value Creation, which was created to support Dean Anand’s vision and
address a growing demand from students, corporate constituents, and alumni to
make social and environmental impact a Smith School priority. The center will
help inspire and equip students to tackle some of society’s most critical
environmental and humanitarian needs through engaging curriculum, real-world
field experience, cutting-edge research, and targeted career planning.