SEO: UMD Smith School’s Melissa Carrier creates social change

Ever since she was young, Melissa Carrier wanted to make a difference in the world. From corporate work to social change, her career path developed parallel to the growing field of social entrepreneurship, which culminated in her founding the university’s Center for Social Value Creation at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.

UMD Smith School faculty uses business for social change
Melissa Carrier of the Center for Social Value Creation uses her profession to change the world By Vicky Shi Melissa Carrier stands at the front of the classroom, capturing the attention of her 23student class as she dynamically discusses successful social entrepreneur. To her students, Carrier is the professor of their Social Innovation Fellows class. However, her life experience extends far beyond her social innovation knowledge. Most importantly, Carrier is a social entrepreneur. Melissa Carrier always had an interest in social change, but as a young adult, she never thought she could combine her career with social impact. With an engineering degree from Ohio State University and a MBA from Wharton, Carrier’s career path started in “corporate America” and suddenly switched into academia, where Carrier created and developed projects that encourage students to use business principles to tackle global issues.
Melissa Carrier learned how to leverage her career to make a social impact. Photo by Vicky Shi

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Vicky Shi, “Melissa Carrier,” Pg. 2 Planting seeds of social responsibility Carrier grew up in a family of six as the oldest of four children. Carrier’s parents instilled strong Catholicism in their children, which she says heavily influenced her early interest in social value. “I was told to take the skills you were given and give back.” Carrier said. “That’s just what you do.” Moreover, Carrier’s father served in the military. “When you move every three years, you learn to be highly adaptable to new situations,” Carrier said. “I think that’s telling because it has a lot to do with my personality.” Throughout high school Carrier used free time to volunteer within the community. As an engineering student at Ohio State University, Carrier launched the Society of Women Engineers, which matched underprivileged sixth grade students with undergraduate student tutors. At the time, Carrier thought helping the world only happened outside of a professional career. “You have your job, you have your friends and family and then you have your volunteer time,” she said. “And that was the way we did things 20 years ago.” The path from volunteerism to entrepreneurship After graduating, Carrier dove into where she felt happiest: information technology jobs where she coached, consulted, and supported. After completing her MBA at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Carrier wanted to work to make a difference within a major organization. She began to merge her passion for social change with her profession. (more)

Vicky Shi, “Melissa Carrier,” Pg. 3 Carrier worked at AT&T’s business strategy group where she had the opportunity to collaborate with an entrepreneurial vice president. Carrier’s supervisor assigned her to an AT&T Foundation project, where she had to find a way to link a community cause to their services. As she tirelessly worked on the project for months, Carrier realized that AT&T had a poorly researched foundation. Although they made billions of dollars in revenue, only $20 million went to the foundation. “Something in my gut didn’t feel right,” Carrier said. She eventually left the business strategy team to do corporate development with the company’s venture funds. She called it a “wonderful experience,” but after she moved to Maryland and gave birth to her son, she wanted a local job. “At some point your personal life weaves back in, and you have to set priorities,” Carrier said. A turning point: from corporations to academia Carrier knew she was ready to close the corporate chapter of her life. “At the end of the day, what was I really doing to make an impact?” Carrier said. “It was part of the epiphany of being a mom. You see this young child, and you think, I can do better by this little guy.” She accepted a job from the university to run venture programs that fund student businesses and local entrepreneurs. After four months, she realized that her students wanted to push beyond entrepreneurship and make the world a better place. With this realization came an opportunity for Carrier. “It brought all of my experiences from prior jobs, my interest in building organizations and consulting and my personal value systems, and I thought, we might actually have a platform here,” Carrier said. (more)

“At the end of the day, what was I really doing to make an impact?”
-Melissa Carrier

Vicky Shi, “Melissa Carrier,” Pg. 2 Inspiring aspiring social entrepreneurs Carrier and her team created a pro bono consulting program called the Social Venture Consulting Program, which helps students who have businesses with social missions. Soon after, Carrier recognized that other universities’ social value centers were too narrowly focused. Carrier thought that social change should happen across all sectors, so she created something new. Carrier and her team launched the Center for Social Value Creation in 2009, which encourages students to use business principles to co-create economic well-being and social change. Dean of the Smith School G. “Anand” Anandalingam said Carrier helped the Center for Social Value Creation grow considerably, as more students continue to become engaged and take full advantage of the opportunities provided. “Melissa is one of the best leaders I’ve ever met,” said Anandalingam. “When you find really good people and let them do what they want, a lot of good things happen.” Originally, Carrier thought she would only stay at the university for one year. Now six years later, Carrier is the executive director of the Center for Social Value Creation and the faculty champion for the Smith School’s Social Innovation Fellows program.
Murray (left) is the teaching assistant for Carrier's Fellows class. Photo by Vicky Shi Anandalingam worked with Carrier to launch the Center for Social Value Creation. Photo source: Smith School

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Vicky Shi, “Melissa Carrier,” Pg. 2 After two years with the Fellows program, Carrier has already made an impact in many students’ lives. “She taught me how to think differently in regards to changing the world,” said Abby Murray, who is now the teaching assistant for Carrier’s class. “Her optimism and go-getter attitude is inspiring.” Carrier’s work is never finished. “Part of me is always looking for new opportunities and recognizing that there’s a door wide open here, and we can build something,” Carrier said. Project by project, she continues to apply her business and technology skills to change the world.

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SEO: Center for Social Value Creation inspires students Melissa Carrier: save world with business
Executive Director of Center for Social Value Creation inspires students to create change By Vicky Shi Volunteer, donate, fundraise: words that come to mind for people who want to change the world. Yet, entrepreneurship is what first strikes Melissa Carrier’s mind. With the help of ambitious university students, Carrier launched the Center for Social Value Creation in 2009 to inspire students to use business and entrepreneurial skills to create economic and social prosperity. Carrier is now the Executive Director of the Center for Social Value Creation. “In 2008, my life changed forever with a single email,” Carrier said. “It was from four students who had found me on the Internet, looking for someone who was involved in some kind of aspect of social change.” Carrier said the students “begged” to create a social innovation program because the university’s social enterprise resources were sparse. Together they worked on designing the foundation for the Center for Social Value Creation. During the process, G. “Anand” Anandalingam became Dean of the Smith School. Anandalingam jumped into the efforts by allocating money in the budget to finance the necessary resources to launch the center. “Part what of a dean does is to provide resources so that ideas can flourish,” Anandalingam said. Since its inception in 2008, the center expanded its learning opportunities to include the Social Innovation Fellows program, student consulting projects, and an annual conference called the Social Enterprise Symposium, along with a variety of ever-changing course offerings. (more)

Vicky Shi, “Center for Social Value Creation,” Pg. 2 Carrier constantly scans the horizon for ways to create sustainable impact, and the Center is just another example of her passion for social change. As Executive Director, Carrier works hard to ensure the center upholds its mission. “The Center for Social Value Creation fulfills a need for students that want to change the world for a living, but don’t quite know how,” Carrier said. “We want to help them succeed.” Find out more information at http://www.rhsmith.umd.edu/svc/. ###

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