Day in Durham: Spending Time in the Muck

Tiffany Hsieh

This post was written by Tiffany Hsieh, a 2018 Fuqua MBA in August 2016. For the past three years, she conducted impact evaluations of education programs at the non-profit, independent research institute SRI International. She previously taught middle school special education in Colorado as a Teach for America corps member. Tiffany received her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

It’s hard to believe orientation was only two and half weeks ago. Global Institute has been a whirlwind but I’m constantly energized and inspired by my fellow classmates who truly embody consequential leadership. In between building houses through Habitat for Humanity, navigating our teams through ropes courses, and taking our first midterms, there has been no shortage of introspective conversations with classmates about how we can balance our careers with our passions for social impact.

Day in Durham arrived just in time to help us think further about our career paths and showcased Fuqua’s sense of consequential leadership. Despite our busy Global Institute schedule, we still had about 200 students show up on a Saturday to learn about social impact organizations around Durham.

Dean Bill Boulding kicked off the day’s events with a challenge to all of us get out of the Duke “bubble” and to get involved with organizations in Durham to help contribute to its revitalization. He then introduced our keynote speaker, Dan Heath, senior fellow at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship (CASE) and author of Switch and Made to Stick.

Day in Durham 2016
During the business revitalization track, students took a tour of Counter Culture Coffee.

Dan implored us all to employ “3D thinking” in our future work; that is, considering all stakeholders in a business model instead of just the bottom line. Though it may be more difficult, intentionally considering the possible broader positive effects of our actions will help us to be consequential leaders. He highlighted Clover in Boston, whose owner is dedicated to sourcing his food sustainably and paying his employees a living wage while providing delicious vegetarian food.

Additionally, Dan also encouraged us to “spend time in the muck” and learn about the sectors we want to work in. Day in Durham was a first step for all of us to explore the muck in Durham. My fellow students and I had to make the difficult decision to choose between six different types of muck a.k.a. areas of focus: sustainability, education, social entrepreneurship, business revitalization, healthcare, and impact investing.

Inspired by Dan’s call to action, I was very glad that I chose to spend the rest of the afternoon in the muck on the social entrepreneurship track seeing how organizations around Durham employed 3D thinking. Our track was hosted by Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, Inc. (TROSA), which is a two-year substance abuse recovery program that also provides residents with job skills in different industries such as retail (through their thrift store), construction, and customer service (with a moving company). These opportunities for work also help fund TROSA’s work and provide the Triangle community with some of the top-rated companies for customer service. This was 3D thinking at its best.

After meeting some of TROSA’s residents and touring their facilities, we finished our day with a panel of speakers from TROSA, The Redwoods Group Foundation, KidzNotes, Bull City Forward, and Helius LLC. We had an enlightening conversation about the challenges of scaling-up organizations while adapting to local contexts and integrating the community you serve into program decision-making.

Day in Durham came at a very opportune time. Right now, my fellow students and I are starting to think about what internships we want to pursue this summer and what jobs would be a good fit for us right after graduation. With the multitude of options out there, it’s critical for us to consider how we can employ “3D thinking”, regardless of which sector we end up in.

Watch our quick recap of this year’s Day in Durham: