People Always Ask Me: “Why Do You Hate Money?”


By Shukun Ma, MBA ‘16

My pursuit of a social impact career can sometimes be met with doubt and discouragement. A common question I get is, “Why do you hate money?”

That’s why the 2014 U-M Social Innovation Summit, Finding Purpose, Delivering Impact, came at a good time for me. The summit, organized by the Center for Social Impact, helped me examine what exactly personal purpose was, and I could discover mine.

I don’t hate money, but I believe that it is possible to do something that taps my passion and utilizes my skills, and that money and social impact don’t have to be a tradeoff. And this year’s Social Innovation Summit helped me solidify that belief.

At the summit, keynote speaker Aaron Hurst, social innovator and CEO of Imperative, shared his understanding that purpose is not cause, or revelation, or luxury. In fact, Hurst says, purpose is made up of relationships, and doing something greater than yourself that creates personal growth and challenge.

His insightful analysis predicts that the entire economy will be reshaped around purpose as more millennials come of age. Our own Dean Alison Davis-Blake seems to agree, writing about the subject in her newest blog.

I came to Ross in order to achieve my life purpose. Sure, I want a job, a meaningful job. As cliché as it may sound, I dream that one day I can do something greater than myself — make a positive social impact in the world by working with the people at the base of the pyramid to improve their well-being.

Me at the 2014 Social Innovation SummitI was lucky to grow up in a big and close family. I have the resources and support that make advancing myself possible. The love and support made me capable of making a change in life, which filled my heart with gratitude and a desire to pass on this spirit.

However, a lot of people don’t have access to what I had growing up. People at the bottom of pyramid have few options to change. That struck me the most during the two years when I worked in Africa as a journalist.

I saw children and youths living in slums who wanted to overcome poverty but were fettered by the lack of resources and support. Some moved to cities to have a better life, but still ended up living in slums. Some resorted to crime or even terrorism in hope of change for the better. Their stories saddened my heart. I promised myself that I would do something to make a difference, and I know that will bring joy to my heart.

I felt that joy when summit speaker Rashida Goudeaux, Director of Workforce Development & Education at Focus: HOPE, shared stories about her experience with the underrepresented, underprepared, and underserved. She got emotional when telling the crowd about her experiences, and it brought tears to my eyes as well.

Her stories not only resonated with me, but also reminded me that I am not alone. It motivated me further to pursue a purpose-driven career. I know I will be deeply happy if what I do makes a positive change in people’s lives.

The entire Summit radiated so much positive energy, I was inspired to renew my goals of pursuing a purpose-driven career.

Want to be inspired too? Watch the keynote address, rapid profile speakers, and check out the Summit photo gallery.

Shukun Ma is currently a first-year Ross MBA student, involved with the Center for Social Impact and pursuing a career that aims to make a positive difference on the world. He is set to graduate in May 2016.

Read More than 50 Ways to Make a Social Impact at Ross

Main image: 2014 Social Innovation Summit poster courtesy of the Center for Social Impact