For most students, one of the primary drivers behind joining an MBA program is the desire to have a larger impact on the world. Here at Foster, students have plenty of opportunities to make a positive difference to the community and Net Impact Foster is at the heart of these efforts. For Nidhi Agarwal, Class of 2022 and co-president of the Net Impact club,
”Net Impact is a community of people that is extremely smart, ambitious, and dedicated to making the world a better place. But my favourite part is that we have diverse backgrounds and varying opinions – which makes it the perfect place to learn. To give an example, scientists are split on whether organic cotton is good or bad for the environment – it depends on the geography, usage and so much more. We at Net Impact enjoy working on and talking through these complex issues and thinking of innovative and simple solutions.”
Parker Townley, part of the winning team at the 2021 Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge and co-president of the Net Impact club, added,
”I strongly believe that we achieve our best results when the work we do aligns with our moral compass. Net Impact helps to provide a roadmap for career opportunities that match vocation with socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable opportunities in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Personally, Net Impact has provided a great opportunity to expand horizons and build networks that otherwise would take years to develop.”
Over the past year, the Net Impact club has hosted workshops for members to learn about carbon accounting principles and practices, panels covering food system innovation, events focussed on apparel trends, and a lecture on how Microsoft and Boeing are tackling climate change. The club also brought in experts to conduct exercises demonstrating the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that complicate supply chain decisions. For the coming year, the club is focusing more on personal networking opportunities as well as hosting events where members can share their experiences based on their areas of expertise prior to arriving at Foster.
The Service Corps program, organized by the Net Impact Club, combines social impact and consulting practice. Teams of first year Foster MBA students work on consulting projects for local companies and not-profits. Over a period of 12 weeks, students work closely with their assigned organizations to solve real world business challenges. With assigned faculty and second year mentors, there is plenty of guidance available to teams. In the past, partner organizations have included Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Sail Sand Point, YMCA and Children’s Therapy Centre. Students get a great opportunity to work on their consulting skills and to support local not-profits. Mohit Juneja, Class of 2022, whose team worked with a renewable energy not-profit had this to say
”I have always had a keen interest in learning about how non-profits are run. Through my service corps project not only did I gain this knowledge, but I was also able to help them devise a business strategy to increase the adoption of their services across all of King County.”
Want to experience leadership at a not-profit? Then the Board Fellows program is definitely for you. Under this program, Foster MBA students are selected as non-voting board members of local not-profits. Students generally attend all board meetings from September to May. This program is mutually beneficial to both students and not-profits. Students develop leadership skills, make a tangible impact on the local community and also earn credit for elective courses. Not-profits gain the different perspectives and skill sets that each student at Foster brings. Students can make a lasting impact and dive deeply into the inner workings of the not-profit thanks to the longer duration of the program. Students experience first-hand the unique challenges that come with leading organizations. According to Twisha Phirke, Class of 2022 and current board member for Tiny Trees Preschool,
“During my time at Foster, I knew I wanted to develop my leadership skills and also support organizations that create impactful differences within the society. The Board Fellows program gave me the perfect opportunity to fulfil both these objectives.”
Within Foster, classes such as “Environmental Innovation Practicum”, “Sustainable Supply Chain Management” and “Health Innovation Challenge Practicum” provide an academic complement to club and institute programs. “Environmental Innovation Practicum” focuses on developing innovative solutions to real-world environmental problems and creating new business opportunities while for the “Health Innovation Challenge Practicum”, students form cross-disciplinary teams around projects related to solving healthcare challenges and present the team’s solutions to classmates and a panel of experts.
Apart from the resources within Foster, MBA students can also leverage UW resources. The Earth Lab Institute connects students from across the UW to ensure new innovations can benefit from a wide range of perspectives and disciplines. UW also hosts a series of competitions aimed at encouraging students to launch new companies and initiatives to benefit people and our planet, for example the “Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge“ and the “Hollomon Health Innovation Challenge.” Both of these competitions are open to undergraduate and graduate students and offer almost $50,000 USD in prize money each.
Giving back to the community is an integral part of the Foster culture and Foster offers students multiple opportunities to do so. To learn more about the Foster community, please reach out to our Student Ambassadors or Admissions Team.