INSEAD the business school for the world

Selected Case

published: 21 Apr 2017

  • Topic: Responsibility
  • Industry: Non-profit sector (education)
  • Region: Asia

In the eight years since doing his MBA, John Wood has had a stellar career with Microsoft, where he is considered a rising star. But John feels a sense of purpose is missing from his corporate career. When he comes face to face with poverty in remote villages in Nepal, he contemplates quitting his prestigious job and starting a non-profit venture setting up libraries to educate underprivileged children in poor countries. However, he is unsure whether such a drastic step would be a smart move. What should John do?

Pedagogical Objectives:
It is common for people with seemingly successful corporate careers to have doubts about whether they are ‘making a difference’. John Wood’s dilemma is designed to launch a discussion on how people evaluate the societal impact of their work, how they come to define ‘career success’, and how they find a unique path to happiness in their professional life. The mini-case can also be used to debate whether and when maximizing one’s societal impact requires giving up a corporate career and making significant financial sacrifice (e.g., by joining a non-profit organization or a social enterprise). This idea can be developed further to examine how one may be able to bring about significant positive change from within a traditional company, e.g. as an “intrapreneur” driving corporate social initiatives.

Social Impact, Careers, Non-Profit Ventures, Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Innovation, Sustainable Development, Sustainability, Corporate Intrapreneurship, Asia, Nepal, Education, Charity, Philanthropy