Jim Schorr’s first year as an MBA student was a transformative one. He had enrolled at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University expecting to pursue a career in international business, but a class called Business & Its Environment and guest lectures by a couple of dynamic social entrepreneurs—Ben Cohen, Co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, and Anita Roddick, Founder of the Body Shop—pointed him in a new direction.
“The combination of the class and those guest speakers introduced me to the idea that business could be a powerful force for social impact and injected a greater sense of purpose into my career path,” says Schorr, Clinical Professor of Management.
This newfound inspiration led Schorr to co-found Students for Responsible Business, which later evolved into Net Impact, an international nonprofit organization that educates and equips students to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world through business. Owen hosted Net Impact’s annual conference in 2007, attracting more than 1,800 MBAs from all over the world. Schorr continues to play a key role in the organization’s success, serving as Board Chair.
At Owen, Schorr is working toward launching the Vanderbilt Center for Business & Society, which echoes his previous work at University of California, Berkeley’s Center for Responsible Business. The objective of the center is to enrich the student experience by developing courses, programs, events and other content in three areas: corporate responsibility, sustainability and social entrepreneurship.
“My role here is to build on what Jim Bradford, Bart Victor and others have been doing at Owen for years,” Schorr says. “As enthusiastic as I am about this new initiative, I know that it wouldn’t be possible without their groundwork.”