Stanford GSB | Mr. Filipino Startup
GMAT 710, GPA 3.7
Harvard | Ms. Media Entertainment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Consumer Goods Senior Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 8.27/10
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Evolving Teacher
GRE 328, GPA 3.26
Columbia | Mr. Indian I-Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 8.63
Cornell Johnson | Ms. Chef Instructor
GMAT 760, GPA 3.3
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Tech-y Athlete
GRE , GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Deferred Financial Poet
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Harvard | Mr. Lieutenant To Consultant
GMAT 760, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Ms. EV Evangelist
GRE 334, GPA 2.67
Wharton | Ms. Product Manager
GMAT 730, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Indian Engineer + MBA Now In Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 8.7 / 10
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indonesian Salesperson
GMAT 660, GPA 3.49
Berkeley Haas | Mr. LGBT+CPG
GMAT 720, GPA 3.95
McCombs School of Business | Ms. Tech For Non-Profits
GRE 312, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Combat Pilot Non-Profit Leader
GRE 329, GPA 3.73
UCLA Anderson | Mr. Actual Poet
GMAT 720, GPA 12.0/14
MIT Sloan | Mr. Indian Healthcare Analytics
GMAT 720, GPA 7.8
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare Administration & Policy Latino Advocate
GRE 324, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Asian Mexican Finance Hombre
GMAT 650, GPA 2.967
Columbia | Mr. Fintech Data Scientist
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Tuck | Mr. Opportunities In MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Co-Founder & Analytics Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 7.4 out of 10.0 - 4th in Class
Harvard | Mr. Strategy For Social Good
GRE 325, GPA 3.5
MIT Sloan | Mr. Spaniard
GMAT 710, GPA 7 out of 10 (top 15%)
NYU Stern | Ms. Hopeful NYU Stern Marketing Ph.D.
GRE 297, GPA 2.8

Ex-Investment Banker Builds Army of Social Entrepreneurs

“SHE DIDN’T UNDERSTAND WHY THIS BELONGED IN A BUSINESS SCHOOL’ 

The natural next step was to start opening up new businesses. Unfortunately, Wertman couldn’t find anyone to run them, even after teaching non-profit management at UCLA. “I couldn’t teach the social workers, so I came up with this idea: What if we created a program at a business school specifically to train and nurture students who were learning business but wanted to use that education for social change, to solve world problems?” Wertman says. “I wrote a ten-page proposal and cold-called three business school deans and said, ‘I’ve got this idea.’” Not everyone was for it. “UCLA’s dean turned me down cold and said she didn’t understand why this belonged in a business school,” Wertman says.

He found like-minded folks at Marshall, where he began working in 2007. As far as west coast schools go, Stanford and Berkeley generally get associated with do-gooding; meanwhile, USC gets nicknamed the University of Spoiled Children. But Wertman sees Marshall becoming the top place for social enterprise. He notes that Stanford and Berkeley’s programs are research-based, and Berkeley focuses on corporate social responsibility, which is an entirely different beast. By contrast, Wertman’s whole goal is to move out an army of social entrepreneurs. Even undergraduates can easily get involved through the social entrepreneurship minor. “We’re Marshall-based and business-based as always, but we’re really looking to see how many partnerships we can build with other parts of the university in order to add business to the mix, to give people a way to actualize their ideas in the real world,” Wertman says.

Adlai Wertman, who teaches the core social entrepreneurship course for MBAs, has carved out a number of initiatives for both MBA candidates and undergrads. Among other things, MBA students can take a concentration in Sustainability, Society and Business. They can do a summer social entrepreneurship internship in Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana or South Africa, partnering with community leaders who are trying to create jobs, products and services that change lives.

Or they can work for a non-profit or social enterprise elsewhere and earn subsidies from the school to offset the loss of income from not taking a more traditional MBA job. Wertman says that MBAs from the program who enter the social enterprise world are earning $91,000 on average in their new jobs—not bad for someone starting out in a nontraditional sector.

THE BIGGER THE PROBLEMS, THE MORE CRUCIAL THE BUSINESS SKILLS  

Having taught social entrepreneurship well before it was hot, Wertman easily lists some of the many misconceptions surrounding the subject. Misconception number one: All nonprofits are horribly mismanaged. “My response to that is, if you went to work for a private company that was poorly run, would you never work in the private sector again?” Wertman says. Misconception number two: MBAs have no place driving social good. That’s certainly what the UCLA dean seemed to believe, but Wertman strongly disagrees. “With problems getting bigger, you need to add people with the discipline of business into the world of social change,” he asserts. “They’re the ones who are going to create the new methodologies for solving these problems.”

Adlai Wertman’s shift from investment banking to social entrepreneurship might still seem odd, but arguably, Wall Street chose him more than he chose Wall Street. “I had not thought anything about what I was going to do after school—really hadn’t—and my professor came to me at graduation and asked me what I was going to do,” Wertman explains. “I said, ‘I have no idea, probably take some time and go look for a job. It was a different time. It was 1980.” The professor had him meet up with a friend. Five days after that meeting, Wertman was working for a 400-person brokerage firm. “I don’t think I ever had a happy week on Wall Street, but I was very addicted to the game,” Wertman says. He liked the thrill of day-to-day intellectual competition, even if it didn’t actually feed his passions.

Perhaps that’s the bright side of a difficult economy: The lack of easy-to-snag jobs might prevent most of us from stumbling into 18-year aberrations.

DON’T MISS: SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP: THE BEST SCHOOLS & PROGRAMS or MBAS WHO ARE CHANGING SOCIETY FOR GOOD

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