Skip to main content

Making an Impact: Public or Private?

In a pair of recent posts on the Skoll World Forum website, Yale SOM students Anita Jivani ’15 and Kesson Anderson ’15 debate whether the public or the private sector offers MBA graduates the best opportunity for a career with social impact.

The students participated as representatives of Yale SOM’s Social Impact Lab, a regular student-run discussion group and a contributor to the forum’s debate series. While Jivani argues that the private sector offers better means of scaling projects with positive social impact, Anderson maintains that market forces distract from the social mission. 

Jivani writes:

Although it is complicated to tie social returns to financial ones, the cause is a worthy one and one that MBA graduates, especially those with an interest in social impact, should help lead through the private sector. The reason why I chose an MBA program, versus an advanced public policy or social work degree, was because of a deep-rooted belief that market-based approaches lead to greater impact, through scale and financial sustainability.

Anderson responds:

I also wholeheartedly believe that real change is most likely to occur when a group of passionate individuals work towards a shared social mission. No one has to think about profits, shareholders, stock prices, or any of the distractions that we find in the private sector. Instead, all employees are united around a common vision, and ideally, strategies to achieve that vision. Yes, donors often impose restrictions; but, for the most part, donors are working towards that same vision and are partners in making that vision a reality.


Skoll Forum Website
Debate: Investing in Social Innovation