UCLA Anderson’s Net Impact Achieves Gold Status

UCLA Anderson’s Net Impact Achieves Gold Status


Nkemdilim Chukwuma (’24) envisions putting social impact into daily practice

October 31, 2023

  • UCLA Anderson MBA student Nkemdilim Chukwuma is president of the school’s award-winning Net Impact chapter
  • The chapter was recently awarded Gold status for enhancing members’ opportunities to make an impact on their communities and in their professions
  • Chukwuma is making an investment in greater education about what it means to put social impact into daily practice

If UCLA Anderson MBA student Nkemdilim Chukwuma (’24) could achieve one lofty goal to benefit the world, it would be to give all communities access to high-quality education. That is, if she had to choose just one goal.

As the current president of UCLA Anderson’s Net Impact chapter, Chukwuma can enumerate multiple goals for 2023–24 — goals toward social and environmental justice, ethical corporate standards and transparency. But chief among them is an increased investment in education. She and her fellow Net Impact officers are specifically stepping up expansion of the schoolwide — even worldwide — understanding of what it means to make a “social impact” in daily business.

“Social impact is industry-agnostic,” she says. “So, whereas we may once have thought of marketing and finance as compartmentalized into discrete industries or jobs, the notion of social impact as embedded in all professional life is increasing. MBAs are seeing it as a career opportunity, irrespective of their industries.”

Net Impact is a global, student-focused organization with more than 300 chapters worldwide, with its highest concentrations in the U.S. and West Africa. As an institution, Net Impact aims to mobilize emerging leaders to apply their professional skills to create a more just and sustainable world.

As a first-year student, Chukwuma told Poets & Quants, “Net Impact played a large part in my decision to join Anderson. When I talked to students about it, it felt like a culmination of everything I said I wanted in a business school, including being collaborative over competitive, forward thinking and socially conscious.”

UCLA earned Net Impact’s Chapter of the Year in 2022–23, and Anderson’s chapter likewise distinguished itself as Graduate Chapter of the Year in 2018 and 2022. In 2023, Anderson’s Net Impact achieved Gold status. The distinction is awarded to 30% of chapters internationally and recognizes those going above and beyond to enhance their members’ opportunities for the kind of leadership, growth and engagement that will make an impact on their communities and in their professions. “Earning the Gold status confirmed for us we’re doing what we need to do in support of our members’ careers,” says Chukwuma.

The chapter works in tandem with UCLA Anderson’s Center for Impact, formally established in 2016 but with historic roots as the school’s social innovation hub. The center and Net Impact co-organize UCLA Anderson’s most community-facing events, including the High Impact Tea speaker series, affording the campus community and public the opportunity to focus on what prosocial progress and leadership look like.

The Center for Impact provides material support and administrative guidance for initiatives like Anderson’s Social Impact Consulting Corps, a student-led impact investment fund and the annual Net Impact Consulting Challenge. Under the direction of Professor Magali Delmas, the center produces research on environmental sustainability and corporate social responsibility, and recently launched the Open For Good platform, a comprehensive, data-driven assessment of corporate transparency across environmental, social and governance (ESG) categories.

This alliance with the Center for Impact provides students valuable experiential learning beyond the classroom. As a club, Net Impact will continue to pursue the opportunities the center has developed so successfully. “What’s changing this year is an investment in daily education,” says Chukwuma. “We’re broadening for students what social impact is, and how they can get involved now. People recognize social impact in the ‘volunteer giving back’ context but might not understand they can incorporate it in business. You can do it in the marketing space, but also in the finance space.”

This is where Net Impact’s new quarterly Social Impact 101 sessions come in. They involve students, their professors and the Center for Impact in early conversations about defining social impact and how to recognize as well as apply it in the industries Anderson students are interested in. Chukwuma says Net Impact will live up to its Gold status in supporting the whole campus community’s access to this kind of (re)education. She credits VP of education Ankit Choudhary (’24) for taking a lead role in executing the Social Impact 101 sessions.

The inaugural Social Impact 101 was led by lecturer Gayle Northrop (’96), who teaches Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation and leads students in all three of Anderson’s MBA programs on global immersion trips to South Africa. Associate Professor of Finance Valentin Haddad, who co-teaches a new course on firms’ pursuit of ESG goals, will also be involved. The Center for Impact will program the kickoff to help students understand how the school and its staff can guide and support their forays into prosocial work — how they can take it beyond Anderson and put it into immediate practice.

Just as Anderson’s degree programs and other student clubs organize “DOJ” (Days on the Job) field trips to major companies across industries, Chukwuma plans to introduce an impact-focused DOJ series. Net Impact will, increasingly, collaborate with other student clubs, such as the Food and Agriculture Business Association and the Energy and Cleantech Association, as well as the Parker Career Management Center to tap the wider alumni network for exposure to major organizations and industries. “It’s part of the strategy to apply a social impact ethos to all professions, all sectors, no matter your function or field,” says Chukwuma.

Because social impact is entirely industry-agnostic, Net Impact conducts surveys among its members to understand which companies and alumni they might be interested in connecting with, and this drives their programming.

As for Chukwuma, she wants to pursue education consulting as a career. A former teacher, she interned at EY Parthenon in the summer of 2023 and spent some earlier years at Goldman Sachs. She’s earning her MBA because she feels strongly that a business lens can help streamline educational support. As the leader of Net Impact at Anderson, she says, “My understanding of for-profit sectors has expanded.” Leadership@Anderson coaching sessions are teaching her how to create transformative change.

“I genuinely enjoy learning and teaching,” she says. “Knowledge is universally valued, but not everyone has the same educational opportunities.” When working as a project manager, Chukwuma voluntarily devised learning series for accounting teams, with the goal of increasing subject matter expertise for new joiners and synergies among various teams within her department. When the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the world in its tracks, Chukwuma paused, too — but not for long. She pivoted from the financial industry to pursue a longtime interest in teaching abroad. She moved to Seoul, South Korea, to teach English to children, and it didn’t take her long after she arrived to win the Ministry of Education-backed TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea) program’s 2020 Teaching Performance Award.

She says she’s not finished with overseas stints. “EY Parthenon has a fantastic education practice, with a branch in Lagos,” she says. Likewise, she’s inspired by Net Impact’s strong presence in Nigeria, where her mom is from.

Chukwuma’s mother immigrated to the United States on a full academic scholarship and became a CPA and CFO of a nonprofit. She told her daughter, “As soon as you’re doing well, you need to do more good.” And so Chukwuma has brought this ethos to her life and work, whether she finds herself in a corporate job or leading a classroom full of elementary school students.