Tuesday, March 03, 2015 at 4pm

Wharton Highlights Entrepreneurship & Social Responsibility: MBA News

Wharton School MBA graduation speakers

The Wharton School is tapping into a combination of business school trends in its choice of speakers for its MBA graduation ceremony this year.

Not only can Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa - cofounders of eyewear company, Warby Parker - showcase the promise of a new generation of leaders, having graduated from the Wharton School as recently as 2010, but they are also entrepreneurs – and entrepreneurs for whom social responsibility played a central role from the outset.

Their choice as featured speakers for May’s MBA graduation serves to highlight the continuing interest among students in both entrepreneurship and elements of social responsibility or CSR. It follows last year’s choice of David Rubenstein, co-CEO of private equity firm, the Carlyle Group, known for his philanthropic work.

“Neil and Dave are exactly the kind of leaders that embody the spirit of Wharton – to do well and to do good. I am excited to have them share their thoughts with our MBA graduating class and to inspire the next generation of leaders who can do the same,” said the Wharton School’s dean, Geoff Garrett in a press release, reflecting on the need to combine business acumen with social responsibility.

MBA graduation speakers founded Warby Parker while at the Wharton School

Blumenthal and Gilboa cofounded Warby Parker with two fellow classmates during their Wharton MBA, using the school’s incubator program, known as the Venture Initiation Program (VIP).

In terms of social responsibility, the  founding premise of the MBA graduation speakers was that for every pair of glasses it sold, Warby Parker would fund the production of a pair that can be distributed and sold at an affordable price for people in need – by working with the NGO, VisionSpring. By mid-2013, Warby Parker said it had been able to fund the distribution of half a million pairs of glasses in this way.

The Wharton School’s incubator, established in 2001, gave the student’s access to resources they might otherwise have found difficult to come by - crucially, without charging them for the privilege. Indeed, Gilboa told the Financial Times back in 2012: “What appealed to us about the resources Wharton provided was that everything was free.”

Gilboa's career history includes Bain & Company and Allen & Company; he is also a founding member of the Entrepreneur Board of Venture for America. Blumenthal, meanwhile, has been named to the World Economic Forum’s ‘Young Global Leader’ roster and is on the board for the United Nations Foundation Global Entrepreneurs Council.

This year, MBA graduation at the Wharton School comes a day before the university-wide commencement ceremony at which the speaker will be a member of the US president’s cabinet, Samantha Power. A graduate of Yale (BA) and Harvard University (JD) and former professor at Harvard, Power is the US’s ambassador to the UN since 2013, before which she ran an office of the US National Security Council that addressed issues of human rights.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).