Fueling Sustainable Social Change

by Lori McMahon MBA ’10, Program Manager – Intel for Change

Lori McMahon MBA ’10

Now the Program Manager for Intel for Change, Lori McMahon (MBA ’10) discusses the influential role that SGE played in shaping her passion for social action and the value that sustainability holds as both a mindset and framework for industry.

I participated in the SGE Immersion during my first year of the MBA program. I was so passionate about the experience that I became a TA the following year. At first, I waffled on my decision of which Immersion to take; any one of the immersions would have given me a great learning experience. I landed on SGE, because it was an area that I knew the least about, one that I was sure I wanted to know more about, and something that I felt would be the most difficult to replicate outside of the structure of the Immersion program. Through my coursework, practicum project, and classroom discussions throughout the SGE Immersion, I discovered that “sustainability” is very rarely a job or a function. Instead, it is a mindset, an approach and framework that can be brought to any industry, organization, discipline or role.

Presently, I manage a program at Intel called Intel for Change, a youth engagement initiative focused on spreading awareness about the barriers to girls’ education and driving social change for equal access to education around the globe. Intel is extremely passionate about education and firmly believes that education is a fundamental right for everyone. However, there are currently 66 million girls out of school around the world. Through Intel for Change, we are tapping into college students’ shared concern and desire to make an impact on girls’ education. Intel for Change provides these students with an opportunity to get smarter on this issue and to connect with both campus peers and Intel employees across the country to drive social change. Intel for Change represents a new approach that puts the next generation squarely in the driver’s seat toward finding solutions that will close the gender gap in school enrollment. The program puts Intel in a role to provide tools and resources in the hands of young social entrepreneurs who seek to change the world for the better. My job as program manager combines my business and marketing experience with my passion for social issues, while also allowing me to create and manage something brand new for our company.

But overseeing Intel for Change was not my first role at Intel. In fact, this role didn’t even exist when I joined the company three years ago as part of the Accelerated Leadership Program (ALP), an MBA general management rotation program, in which Associates rotate through different roles and business groups. The program’s set-up allows Associates to better understand the company, build a broad network, and determine where their skills and passions are best suited within the company. During my ALP I rotated though a customer field team, the Human Resources department, and Partner Marketing.

When it came time to look for a final placement, I heard about the opportunity at Intel for Change. I met with the hiring manager, who was impressed by my accomplishments throughout the ALP rotations, the background that SGE had provided me, and my authentic passion for social action. Since starting in this role about eight months ago, I have drawn upon the knowledge and perspective that I gained in the SGE Immersion in addition to the people that I came to know very well during my time at Cornell.

Both in my current role and as I look ahead in my career, I can no longer avoid looking through the lens of “sustainable global enterprise,” something for which I am very grateful. I certainly draw upon the skills and knowledge I gained in my other MBA courses on a regular basis, and I appreciate all that I learned while studying at Johnson. However, I have a particular appreciation for what I gained from the SGE immersion, and would encourage any student – regardless of the industry or profession they want to pursue – to consider the SGE immersion or, at the very least, an SGE course in order to gain the insight and perspective that I had fortunate enough to receive.

I have one piece of advice that I would offer to students, who are in the process of deciding on which Immersion to take. Choose an immersion based what you want to learn and get experience in, not what you think your peers or prospective employers think you should take. You can choose to highlight your Immersion on your resume or not, if you feel it could help or hurt you, but the immersion experience – no matter which one you choose – offers limitless opportunities to differentiate yourself in an interview.

To learn more about Intel for Change, visit: www.intelforchange.com