Smashing the Watermelon: IMPACT as an introduction to the Goizueta Curriculum

As we sat in the large auditorium for our first IMPACT class, Professor Lynne Segall told the Class of 2020, “the question we ask is the question we answer.”

So, the question here is “What is IMPACT?”

Taught by superstar Lynne Segall, a Goizueta alum (99MBA) who spent 15 years Accenture, IMPACT introduces students to the world of consulting, encouraging us to take an interdisciplinary approach, where we integrate all of the content from other courses (finance, economics, operations, marketing and strategy) to produce an end-product.

But that’s just the beginning of IMPACT’s impact. In the course, students don’t simply strive for high-quality work but also work that is high impact, or the “double win,” as Segall calls it. It’s one thing to produce work that is technically and analytically correct (high quality) but it is a different beast entirely to produce work that is high impact. Here, impact means work that is meaningful, implementable and has real-world ramifications beyond a slide deck or an in-class presentation. It is business in the real world, in real time.

Throughout the course, students do work ranging from analyzing past business decisions for companies like Honda to implementing future business potential in precision agriculture. IMPACT is the past, present and future of business where students are constantly thinking of what’s working, what’s changing and where are we going in modern business.

It’s clear that Segall’s mission — and the mission of IMPACT more generally — is to answer the question of what is business and where can that take us? But the course doesn’t stop there. It also challenges students to understand their own impact. As businesspeople, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds, crunching numbers, hiding in a computer or mindlessly running from meeting to meeting without considering our own power.

IMPACT integrates guest speakers that focus on storytelling to illuminate how much of our own power comes from narratives and personal connection, assignments that encourage us to give presentations fueled by our passion and critique our own performance, and Socratic discussions that open dialogue.

In essence, IMPACT is a crash course in life.

But this tautology about questions not only sets the tone for the IMPACT curriculum, but for the Goizueta experience. In a program about tradeoffs, it forces students to think of their own priorities. Are we here for a networking, academic or job-seeking purpose? Do we want to be at the top of class or get by with a great job offer?

Regardless of the answer, IMPACT becomes an integral part of the student experience. It carries through into the second semester where students work with real-world problems in IMPACT 360, it bleeds through into the storytelling of our presentations and coursework, and you better believe, it’ll be at the heart of our future job experience.

So, in closing, I ask you this: what questions are you asking? 

David Hinshillwood

David Hinshillwood

David Hinshillwood is a 2020 Full-Time MBA student focusing on Marketing and Strategy Consulting, hoping to change the world (or at least pay the bills!). Originally from Cherry Hill, NJ, he has his bachelors in History and Literature and Women and Gender Studies from Harvard where he focused on the intersections of race, gender, and performance. Outside of the classroom, he enjoys drag performance, rugby, community outreach and good coffee.

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