Colleen Garrehy and Tina Pan, Co-Presidents of the Social Impact Club at London Business School, reflect on the club’s learnings in the past year.  

Our LBS Social Impact Club forged a dynamic presence in a year of Zoom.

During an unpredictable year, the Social Impact Club found creative solutions to deliver high quality experiences to the London Business School (LBS) community. As a club of 60 executive committee members, we have delivered over 35 events, a virtual Social Impact Signature Conference and Week, one impact investing trek, career counselling to over 500 members, and an MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) global competition. Beyond the numbers, the Social Impact club has successfully cultivated a social impact community that no longer views social impact as a separate industry but as a lens to approach all business sectors and decisions. “We want our members to embrace the role business leaders play in leading initiatives that positively impact our society”, explain Tina Pan, co-president of the 2020-2021 Social Impact Club for LBS. Next year, Katie Stolp and Liz Wolohan will lead the club as co-presidents for the 2021-2022 school year, focusing on elevating the LBS social impact brand while continuing to support students pursue impactful careers across all industry sectors. 

We saw momentum across sectors to push the social impact agenda forward.

Through the club’s programming this past year, we are encouraged by the direction and velocity of the conversations and actions being undertaken across sectors. In the finance sector, there were clearly both pushes to use innovative blended financing mechanisms to support development as well as efforts to solidify ESG practices in more traditional private and public market investing. In the corporate sector, a relentless emphasis on supply chain sustainability has continued to spur product design innovation. In the technology sector, we see impact-focused venture capital funds and start-ups grow symbiotically and move closer to a mature ecosystem. In the development sector, partnership approaches that have long existed between public and private entities take on renewed energy as progress in other sectors opens new possibilities especially in emerging markets. While we do not underestimate the magnitude of the challenges ahead and the myriad of issues that come with the progress in these sectors, the momentum is heartening as we move forward not only in advancing conversations but also taking action. 

Impact reporting and assessment is taking the spotlight.

Through events from our Social Impact Club, speakers from the Wheeler Institute and courses from LBS such as Growing Social Enterprises, we see that impact reporting and assessment is a defining issue in the social impact space for the next few years. In Wheeler Institute’s conversation on climate standards, Mark Carney – former Governor of the Bank of England – and Lucrezia Reichlin – Professor at LBS and Chair of the European Corporate Governance Institute both spoke of the enormity of the challenges ahead on climate reporting standards but highlighted the urgency with which the international financial community has mobilised against the task. Impact reporting and assessment is no doubt a rapidly evolving field: if the last few years has been about the development and proliferation of reporting standards, the next few years may be about collaboration and consolidation to a universal one. Indeed, experts speak of three major focuses to come: the consolidation to a universal global standard, the need for mandatory not voluntary reporting, and the ensuing consideration for assurance and audit. 

We call on everyone in our community and beyond to reinvent the mainstream.

Students, faculty and alumni all have a role to play with how we invest our money, choose our careers, measure impact, and create policies that will impact generations to come. The case for social agency has been proven by research and demonstrated in practice for decades, and yet is far from being adopted as a mainstream business mindset. Our generation is facing cumulative crises (from climate to poverty), yet the non-discriminatory presence of COVID-19 has visibly exposed deep systemic gaps to solving them. As we dedicate our careers to non-traditional social impact sectors, we must identify opportunities to reinvent the way we conduct business. Consumers are holding us to higher standards now, and purchasing decisions are no longer dependent on price or quality but instead on a company’s ethics and values. Social enterprises and businesses will need to invoke a new level of transparency to stay competitive. Reinventing the Mainstream is a call to action for business’ stakeholders, and consumers, to fully incorporate social and environmental priorities into every decision they make. Please visit our club’s website to learn more about our club’s programming and vision for the upcoming school year.  

Colleen Garrehy (MBA2021) was the Co-President of the 20/21 Social Impact Club at London Business School. Prior to LBS, Colleen spent five years with Accenture in New Work as well as two years with Teach for America. During MBA, she interned with Healios, a London-based digital healthcare start-up, as their strategy lead.  

Tina Pan (MBA2021) was the Co-President of the 20/21 Social Impact Club at London Business School. Prior to LBS, Tina worked at McKinsey Toronto for four years, most recently as an Engagement Manager. During MBA, she interned with the Clinton Health Access Initiative to expand access to family planning products in emerging markets and with Diagram Ventures to build fin-tech and health-tech start-ups. 

Katie Stolp (MBA2022) is the Co- President of the 21/22 Social Impact Club at London Business School. Prior to LBS, Katie spent the last five years working for the World Wide Web FoundationONE Campaign, and U.S. Trade Representative. This summer, Katie will be interning with the Fair Carbon Project 

Liz Woholan (MBA2022) is the Co- President of the 21/22 Social Impact Club at London Business School Prior to LBS, Liz worked for Strategic Growth Group, Mission Throttle, and Cimarron Alternative Investment Funds. During her MBA, she has worked for the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development and will be interning this summer at Clinton Health Access Initiative on the Global Markets Team. 

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