#SES12 Reflections (Part 3 of 8): College Park Impact, Measuring and Reporting Sustainability

 Social Enterprise Symposium  Comments Off on #SES12 Reflections (Part 3 of 8): College Park Impact, Measuring and Reporting Sustainability
May 142012

by Shantanu Chandra MBA ’13

Note: Each of the participants in the Spring 2012 SVC Smith Experience was asked to blog about a session that piqued their interest at this year’s Social Enterprise Symposium.

Pradeep Suthram, MBA '12, leads a session at the College Park Impact Workshop

This Thursday “The Stamp Student Union” at the University of Maryland glistened with social value, nobility and impact. Thanks to the social enterprise symposium organized by the Center of Social Value Creation- the monetarily driven sharp business minds of the Robert H Smith School of Business could take a deep breath and get a feel of contribution and impact to the society. In the contemporary business era the need of social value alongside making profits has acquired paramount importance and hence it is inevitable for business schools to not provide exposure in this area to its students. The social enterprise symposium was a key move in this direction. The event was kicked off by a Key Note address from Mr Stan Litow of IBM and ended with a wonderful Networking reception alongside a number of dignitaries from various panel discussions and workshops. Continue reading »

I Leave When???

 Career  Comments Off on I Leave When???
May 112012

By Tristan Tausendschoen, MBA ’13

It hit me yesterday—I am leaving for Thailand in just over one week. I have a summer internship working for the Population and Community Development Association in Pattaya Thailand, promoting condom use across the country, working with agricultural entrepreneurs, teaching in a school, and doing anything that my employer asks of me. To be honest, I am not 100% what I will be doing at all.

Between now and my departure, I have to take three finals, write three papers, work 3 ten hour work days in Northern Virginia, pack for my trip, move out of my place in College Park, organize my team for a cocktail competition … and …. just do an overwhelming amount of work before going into an uncertain situation.

In the coming fourteen weeks, I hope to chronicle my feelings, experiences, and lessons learned in a blog that is honest, humorous, and informative.  The goal of my blog is to tell my story, which is but one Smith story.  My situation is in no way unique. The vast majority of my MBA peers at Smith are finishing their first MBA year only to need to relocate to a new city and need to fit in a new environment with new expectations.

Right now my story is a story of being overwhelmed by work and other responsibilities. To me, an MBA is about balancing educational, professional, social, and personal needs in a struggle against the clock. It just happens that all of four responsibilities are hitting me at the same time in my finals week.

Educationally, I am finishing up my classes at University of Maryland, a school whose faculty is rated as the second best faculty in the country. The exams, papers, and presentations that I have left are challenging, and will take time.

Professionally, I am winding down a spring internship as a Contracting Officer with the General Services Administration in Fairfax Virginia. I made a weekly three day commitment to the Administration for the opportunity to gain a full time position upon my graduation and for the opportunity to learn a new skill. Tomorrow, I need to approach my boss about the work I will be doing when I telecommute one day a week while I am in Thailand.

Socially, I am trying to say goodbye to my first year friends, my friends outside of school, and see my family one last time. Two of my friends who are fellow first years and I are competing in Smith’s cocktail  competition  that takes place this Thursday and we need to get together and plan our presentation. I need to celebrate my mother and sister’s birthdays, say goodbye to my girlfriend, and enjoy Mother’s Day.

Personally, I have to finish everything else—moving, exercising, and doing the activities that I enjoy before I leave. The personal component of business school is in some ways the most difficult because the other three components grab so much attention. It takes a lot of courage to say that you can’t attend a group meeting because you need to get in a run, but if running is what you enjoy, running is what you should do to remain sane.

My subsequent blogs will be more in-depth, but for now, I would like to finish by thanking everyone at the Smith School. Specifically, I am thankful to Karen Watts, Associate Director of Center for International Business Education and Research. Karen Watts leveraged a personal relationship to find me an internship in Thailand, tirelessly advocated on my behalf, covered about half of my expenses, and reassured me when I lost confidence about a summer abroad. Additionally, Jeffrey Stolzfus from the Office of Career Services helped me locate a fellowship that covered the other half of my costs and worked me through the process.  I hope that I live up to Karen and Jeff’s expectations and make the Smith School proud.

Justice and Democracy Through Social Media

 Social Value  Comments Off on Justice and Democracy Through Social Media
May 082012

By Amadou M. Cissé, EMBA 12, Robert H. Smith School of Business

I am sure by now that most of you have heard about if not already seen the video that went viral on YouTube entitled Kony 2012, a documentary to put an end to the abhorrent activities to the International Criminal Court’s most wanted criminal, Joseph Kony.  A Ugandan national, Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army and is infamously known to have abducted over 30,000 children as recruits to his army. What I found most tragic about the video was the fact that children soldiers have become the norm in conflict areas in Africa and sadly there seems to be a very lethargic reaction to this outrage.

I commend Invisible Children for having the courage to discuss a very difficult and even controversial subject using social media.  To raise awareness of an unspoken situation, you have to engage people and initiate the discussion.  Kony 2012 generated a lot of debates for and against the movement. Opponents of the video have stated that releasing the video has not helped the situation since Kony is still free, somewhere in central Africa, still abducting children and engaged in a senseless rebellion.  The same opponents will add that this video is again exploiting the misfortune of Africans to profit Westerners.  I totally disagree with these views for two reasons.  First, I have not seen any of these opponents do something themselves to help stop Kony besides criticizing.  Second, not talking about Kony means that we are not giving a voice to those who have no means to advocate for themselves.

In too many instances, the victims end up being more victimized because no one will stand for them.  In the quest for justice, one should use all available means to show what a criminal has done and continues to do in defiance of common sense and peace.  After all, let’s remember that the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda was not adverted because no one knew what was going in real time.  We are so fortunate to live in the digital revolution where information is no longer in the hands of a few, rather accessible to the mass.  Invisible Children through the use of social media was able to transform their message into a movement to bring one of the world’s most wanted criminal to justice.  YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, just to name a few, were all instrumental for spreading news just as they did during the Arab Spring because the people were broadcasting what news they felt was the most relevant.

A few weeks ago, Mali, my country of origin, was victim of a military coup.  As I was completely oblivious of the situation because so busy with work, I was alerted by my brother-in-law, an avid Twitter user.  He knew in real time what was going even before most traditional media outlet such as CNN or The Washington Post had spread the news.  The following weeks, I was glued to my Twitter account (@UniverSahel) and I was flooded with information about the progress in Mali.  Two days ago, under international and regional pressure, the junta reinstituted the constitution and the President of the National Assembly assumed the interim.  Democracy was saved thanks to social media and the thousands of “social reporters” who fed us with critical information.  I now hope and pray that Kony and all other warlords will be also brought to justice thanks to social media.