Skip to main content

The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society


INSEAD Alumni Embody Business as a Force for Good

The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society

INSEAD Alumni Embody Business as a Force for Good

INSEAD Alumni Embody Business as a Force for Good

The latest Alumni Survey Report shows that the INSEAD community is addressing the world’s biggest challenges – meet two alumni that truly make business a force for good.

Over recent years, communities, companies and countries around the world have faced many daunting challenges. Time and time again, we have seen INSEAD alumni respond with business solutions. Our alumni community of more 60,000 members has great potential to be a true force for good and open opportunity in the transition to new ways of doing business.

At the Hoffmann Institute for Business and Society, knowing this potential exists was not enough. We wanted to measure it. So as part of regular alumni engagement, Zoe Kinias and the INSEAD Gender Initiative with support of alumni relations and Dirk Luyten surveyed more than 6,000 alumni to see how our community delivers positive social impact. The results have been published in an INSEAD Alumni Survey Report and the key takeaways shared here give hope for the future.

Nearly all alumni are engaged in critical issues for business and society. The study shows a large majority of INSEAD alumni working to solve social, economic or environmental issues. From poverty reduction and DEI to developing female leadership and climate change, alumni are working on today’s major issues. More than three quarters of all alumni surveyed are working towards a better future (87%), elevating women leaders (85%) and addressing climate change in some way (77%).

The report also highlights that alumni in different career stages approach social issues differently. Young alumni and millennials actively promote social benefits, diversity-enhancing practices, health and wellness, and environmental stewardship. Older alumni are especially active with non-profits and more likely to serve on non-profit boards. We also often see alumni step into the social impact leadership identity with time and perspective.

The Alumni Impact Report 2022 outlines many paths to social impact, each one individual and personal. Today, we look at the career paths of two young alumni currently working in impact organizations to see the stories behind the numbers.

Leveraging Innovation in Energy

My INSEAD MBA helped me take the first steps.” – Luiz Avelar MBA’17J, Senior Strategy Director, Envision Digital

For Luiz Avelar MBA’17J, clean energy has always been a passion, from building hydro dams as a kid to writing his engineering thesis on wind turbine design. When he graduated, the clean energy market was still maturing. So, Luiz joined the energy market from another angle – oil and gas – knowing he would pivot later. After graduating, he joined Accenture Strategy as an energy strategist, but was headhunted to join Envision Digital as Senior Strategy Director. The company’s objective is to decarbonise the world’s energy matrix.

”What excites me is knowing that I am somehow part of the solution by integrating business and the environment and helping society live better through cleaner energy. I like to think that every day I help remove carbon molecules from the atmosphere and contribute positively to future generations,” he says.

As a metric for measuring success, he counts his contribution in tonnes of CO2 removed from the atmosphere. His role is about clean energy and accelerating decarbonisation via expansion, strategic investments, and mergers and acquisitions. Metrics of success may also include the number of companies acquired, new country offices, new products and features launched and stock price at IPO.

INSEAD equipped Luiz with the knowledge and tools to make decisions that deliver positive outcomes for business, communities, people and our planet. He credits his MBA experience with enabling a career pivot and providing the skillsets to thrive in strategy consulting. As a clean energy advocate, he has seen his thought leadership echoed by respected institutions such as the World Economic Forum and Cambridge. Luiz already had the confidence needed to change the world, now he has the INSEAD toolkit and network.

As for the future, Luiz sees himself working for impact organizations – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because the clean energy transition is one of the most important things that humanity must do. In the current green push, doing good is also good business.

The Power of Cooperation

“If I can have fun, save the planet and make a successful career out of it, why not?” – Ramya Krishnaswamy MBA’05J, Head, Institutional Communities and ESG Initiative; Member, Executive Committee, World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is an international organization that advances public-private cooperation. It is also where Ramya Krishnaswamy MBA’05J has worked for almost 12 years, enabling progress on diverse issues such as water security, energy transition, emerging market investment, ESG reporting, anti-corruption and more. She collaborates with CEOs, board chairs, family business owners and organizational leaders to put stakeholder capitalism into practice.

Ramya was at McKinsey & Co. working on a public-private partnership plan when one of the partners coached her to consider an impact career. She found she wanted to focus on something bigger than profit maximization for one organization. At the time, the range of social careers was limited but it was a natural switch to social sector management consulting. She joined FSG, where she learned about creating shared value in corporations, philanthropic strategies and public-private partnerships.

Most of the work I do has an impact at the systems level. It is complicated to describe, or measure success of every quarter. I am excited that the scope of my work is broad. It spans organizations and regions, cuts across industries and issues, and brings people together to solve some of today’s complex and hairy issues,” she says.

Now with the World Economic Forum, she is building on that experience. Ramya recently led development of common metrics for ESG disclosure and reporting that was adopted by over 180 large multinational companies in less than three years. This momentum launched an international standard setting body on sustainability, which has the mandate to create global sustainability reporting rules for capital markets around the world.

Not all projects lead to such clear outcomes in such a short time. Humility and patience are needed to realize that social impact is complex, and it often takes the right actions performed persistently over years to yield results. Ramya says this is a mindset switch for those accustomed to results-oriented, clear-cut environments where incentives align and capital is plenty.

INSEAD helped her pivot from a “narrow” technical career to a broad career as a management consultant, a necessary step to her impact career. For Ramya, it is hard to imagine maximizing commercial success for one organization after working for an impact-based organization. By engaging with many different private sector organizations to re-think their contributions to society beyond just shareholder value, Ramya has found a way to harness the ripple effect for maximum impact.

Commitment in Action

Looking at these inspiring stories and examining the Alumni Survey point to the same conclusion. INSEAD alumni are at the forefront of today’s pressing challenges. They are using innovation and collaboration to open opportunity in the push for sustainability solutions. We see this commitment to business as a force for good in the Survey and we see it in action when we meet alumni.

These stories inspire and show what is possible when you work for an impact organization. By working together with purpose, INSEAD alumni can bring action towards positive impact into the work of all organizations.

Shivangi Saxena, INSEAD MBA’22D has worked on creating impact with Octopus Investments, the World Bank and the Government of India. 

The Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society thanks all alumni that participated in the survey and all INSEAD alumni working towards positive social impact. The Institute looks forward to sharing more results from the INSEAD Alumni Survey Report 2022 and future engagement with the alumni community.

Subscribe to our Hoffmann Institute Quarterly Newsletter

Stay informed on our 60 second quarterly video updates, stories, video recordings of our webinars, and details of upcoming events and much more.