This page includes inspiring stories from our students on their journeys to pursue impact-oriented careers! You can also read about How Fuqua Helps Students Make an Impact.

Student Spotlight: Danny Auerbach

Danny Auerbach is a Second-Year MBA student from Chicago. Driven by his interest in human behavior, he studied psychology in undergrad. He started his professional career by enhancing businesses as a human capital consultant but used volunteer experience to discover his true passion is creating better lives for children. To understand educational challenges impacting student outcomes more deeply, Danny became a 5th grade middle school teacher at Success Academy, New York City’s largest and highest performing charter school. Now in business school, Danny is continuing to pursue his passion for education and social impact.

Why did you decide to come to business school?

I had a macro-level business understanding from consulting and on-the ground experience of being a teacher; however, I needed the time and space to test where my head and heart met. Only then would I be able to make the greatest impact in the education space. Did I want to work on K-12 curriculum? Or focus on upscaling and career transition?  Did I want to go into an early-stage startup or a larger company? Business school provided me with the tools and opportunities to dig into these questions.

Why focus on education and social impact?

My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and has served as a source of inspiration throughout my life. She constantly said the Nazis could take away a lot but not remove her drive and ability to learn, so education was always a core pillar for my family. I was also fortunate enough to attend one of the best public high schools in Illinois, not even realizing it at the time. It wasn’t until midway through first year of college that I discovered how different K-12 systems could be – solely because of someone’s zip code. This didn’t seem fair, and I wanted to change that. As a result, I have made it a personal mission to help all students succeed to create a better world for everyone.

What keeps you motivated?

While I face a lot of challenges in life, it is nothing compared to what my former students went through. I sometimes wonder how can I fairly complain about anything when I know there are 10-year-olds who had to learn 5th grade math from a homeless shelter during a global pandemic, for example? Or when I know a child might not get healthy food unless they are provided it at their school? My former students did not have a lot, but they still had grit which pushes me to be better each day. Moreover, I studied positive psychology (a discipline that focusses on strengths to improve people/ organizations) in Denmark during part of undergrad and learned how much potential there is for good in the world. I’m motivated to spread that ‘good’ (whether it be meditating, exercise, etc.) and help others experience a better life.

What did you do for your summer internship?

I worked for Guild Education, a B-Corporation which provides education benefits to working adults, allowing them to gain new skills while working. More specifically, Guild acts as a middleman between Fortune 500 companies (such as, Walmart, Chipotle, Target, etc.) and online universities to support frontline workers and help them ‘upskill’ as a professional. This past summer, I worked with the Children’s Hospital in Colorado and explored how to add more educational programs for employees to choose from. These new opportunities would allow workers a better and rewarding career (filled with more pay, impact, upward potential, etc.).

Why would companies want to support workers in continuing education? What is the “business case” for social impact in this case?

From a human resources perspective, it helps with talent acquisition and retention. During COVID, the competition for frontline workers skyrocketed and education became an added benefit for many workers. It also boosts the “brand” of the company since it indicates that employees are seen as individuals and not just workers. It says to people employed at these organizations that they are valued, and the company is willing to invest in their growth.

How did the Net Impact Club help you in your recruiting process?

It gave me an informal network of peer support and validation. Since I was not going through the traditional recruiting paths of consulting or banking, it provided me with a group of people that were also going through “custom recruiting.” We leaned on each other during hard times, motivated each other, and created spaces for genuine connection.

What advice do you have for people interested in going to business school for social impact?

You might feel alone or scared but know that those feelings will disappear. Once in school, you’ll be part of a gritty and ambitious group that is planning to change the world. What is more motivating that that?  Individuals from the Net Impact Club are one of the many groups that will help when you’re debating job offers, running out of steam, or just looking for someone to talk shop with. Lean on these people; stay grounded to follow your passion; and I guarantee you will make the impact you hope in this world!