MBU Names First-Ever Social Entrepreneur in Residence

May 21, 2019

A for-profit consulting firm that’s owned by two public charities and contributes all its profits to community charitable partners. Sound ground-breaking?

That new business model was the brainchild of Michael Pirron, founder and CEO emeritus of Richmond-based Impact Makers, established in 2006. And he’s bringing his socially conscious business philosophy to MBU as the first social entrepreneur in residence.

In this new position, he will mentor both undergraduate and graduate students as they work to establish business as a force for environmental and social good.

“The most inspiring thing about working with Michael has been his incredible ingenuity in forming Impact Makers,” said MBA student Kari Watson, who is working with Pirron on a series of interviews with B Corporation leaders. “It truly is a one-of-a-kind business model that has set the pace for B Corporations and philanthropy as a whole.”

Certified B Corporations, or B Corps, are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.

Pirron’s mindset and the social-benefit focus of MBU’s master of business administration (MBA) program are a perfect match. The 100% online MBA is designed to help leaders run businesses that make a profit while also having a positive impact on the world.

“I believe the B Corporation business model will make a huge impact in the business world in the near future, holding corporations to higher standards,” said Watson, who will finish her MBA in fall 2019.

Pirron will also guest lecture, meet one-on-one with students, and participate in MBA activities. His residency will run through December 2019.

“Over the course of my early years in consulting … I dreamed about building a different company, a company that would fulfill me professionally and personally; a company that would span beyond just making money,” said Pirron in an interview with Watson (read the full interview here).

So with $50, a laptop, and one client contract, I started a company I didn’t own, gave the company away to the community from the beginning, and started reporting to a volunteer board of directors that could fire me as CEO if I wasn’t maximizing profits for the community. If the corporation sold, the community would have rights to the sales proceeds. And we grew it over 10 years to $23-million revenue and 14+ employees.”

Pirron is now on the leadership team as vice president, client solutions at Networking Technologies and Support, headquartered in Midlothian, and he also serves on MBU’s Advisory Board of Visitors. He spent the early years of his career as a senior consultant with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture) based in Sophia Antipolis, France, consulting throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India. As a result, Pirron has spent significant time in more than 25 countries. He holds an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

MBU has also benefited from longstanding relationships with two artists in residence, painter and activist Claudia Bernardi and master percussionist Srinivas Krishnan, who return to campus for classes, lectures, and performances.

“I believe the B Corporation business model will make a huge impact in the business world in the near future, holding corporations to higher standards.”
Kari Watson, MBA student