Increasing my Impact with the Duke MBA

This post was written in March 2013 by second year Duke MBA, Julia Houlihan.  Julia’s post originally appeared on Fuqua’s Daytime MBA Student Blog which posts about the Daytime MBA experience from the student perspective.

In the past few weeks, we’ve received email reminders about graduation requirements to make sure everyone’s on track to walk across that stage and shake Dean Boulding’s hand in May. These emails have caused me to reflect a bit on the requirements I had when choosing an MBA program. Principle among these: I wanted to attend a business school that was serious about preparing leaders to make an impact in the social sector, and I wanted to find peers who were similarly striving to use their MBAs to find solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

I was drawn to Fuqua because it houses the well-recognized Center for Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE). To me, the presence of CASE promised that I would learn about the intersection of social impact and business from scholars and practitioners, and find other students searching for the same experience. I am happy to report that my expectations were exceeded.

For me, much of business school has consisted of: courses, practicums, clubs, and the search for a fulfilling career. I have incorporated my interest in social impact into each one of these areas.


Two electives that stand out to me are Social Entrepreneurship and Impact Investing, both taught by Professor Cathy Clark. Some highlights: in Social Entrepreneurship, Professor Clark brings in an incredible cross section of guest speakers — emphasizing the reputation and connections that she and other CASE faculty have in the field. We heard from one of the co-founders of B-Lab, a program officer at the Acumen Fund and the Executive Director of the Calvert Foundation, among others. In the Impact Investing elective, I was blown away by my classmates — we were 70 strong and had an incredible diversity of experiences.


I participated in CASE’s Global Consulting Practicum in Social Entrepreneurship, which is now a part of the overall Fuqua Client Consulting Practicum (FCCP) that provides opportunities for student teams to consult with both commercial and social sector clients in the U.S. and abroad. Through the practicum I worked on a consulting engagement with a large non-profit eye care hospital in Hyderabad, India — LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) — that offers world-class eye health services to 50% of its patients free of charge. Because of the incredible service LVPEI provides, they are inundated with requests from other organizations for help establishing or improving other eye care facilities. My team was tasked with conducting a feasibility study to see if these requests could translate into revenue-generating opportunities. Over Spring Break, we traveled to India to interview LVPEI staff, clients, and partners. This was an incredible opportunity to put coursework into practice and blend the business and nonprofit worlds.


The Fuqua Net Impact Club is one of the largest student clubs on campus, and this year it was recognized by Net Impact National as Chapter of the Year. I have served on the Net Impact cabinet, helping to organize Social Impact and Sustainability Career Support and Programming. We coordinate career-mentoring groups and create and maintain different resources for students looking for careers in this space. Through my involvement with the club I also expanded my network with Fuqua students, alumni, and even professionals outside of the Fuqua community.


I hope to pursue a career in the education space. This past summer, I participated in the Education Pioneers Fellowship and worked on a new revenue strategy for Teach for America’s Chicago Region. My internship was made possible partly because of Fuqua’s Summer Internship Fund (SIF), which matched a portion of my salary. SIF supported 19 students last summer, who all made a difference in a variety of sectors. Also, this year, I have been working closely with Erin Worsham, Social Impact and Sustainability Sector Director in the Career Management Center, to find my post-graduation dream job. The results aren’t yet in, but we (myself and Erin) are optimistic!