A social action entrepreneur whose go-to hashtag is #everybodypoops might raise a few eyebrows. That’s exactly what CEO, Executive Director, and Founder Jasmine Burton is hoping for on her journey to help innovate the sanitation economy. It’s a business market born from a global crisis that presents vast potential for global economic growth, and has the ability to transform future cities, communities, and businesses.
The intersection of business and society
Based in Atlanta, Jasmine, or Jaz as many call her, is striving to create social change in her community and around the world.
Before graduating from the Georgia Institute of Technology’s (GT) School of Design with a Bachelor’s of Science in Industrial + Product Design, she founded Wish for WASH, a social impact startup intended to bring innovation to sanitation.
Burton received her accelerated MBA from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. She says the one-year program allowed her to dive back into school, emerge from quarantine and build a community with an intimate cohort of impact-minded and value-based business professionals.
“As a hybrid professional with deep roots in the Impact economy as a nonprofit founder, social entrepreneur and global health consultant, I loved how many MD/MBAs, MPH/MBA and practicing physicians were in our cohort,” she says.
While she describes her summer of 2021 as the most challenging chapter in that journey, having completed 10 courses and CORE in 10 weeks, she leaned on her cohort of “largely folx who value the intersection of business and society,” and likens the close-knit community to family.
“I loved getting to know my colleagues and to have my eyes opened to the myriad of ways that business can be a force for good while being based in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia.”
The role of her Emory Goizueta MBA
Jaz maintains a human-centered, social inclusion focus for whatever project she’s tapped into. She is proof that an MBA can unlock the tools necessary to pair passion with professional action and make tangible change in every corner of the world, even when tackling the most taboo of topics.
Like many who head into business school with a laser focus on a particular field or goal, Jaz says she entered business school with a singular focus on the sanitation economy. But because she was open to the magic of new opportunities, her journey was more enriching than she could have ever envisioned. Some highlights? Partaking in the inaugural B-Lab learning lab course, serving as the Co-Managing Director of the 2022 John Lewis Racial Justice Case competition, and earning her Certificate of Advanced leadership.
“My MBA experience as a Consortium Management and Business and Society Fellow really opened my eyes to new and exciting ways to continue building on my base passion and work.”
“I learned that while I am a sanitation entrepreneur and will always be tied to that space that catapulted me into the impact economy, I am also passionate and excited to drive sustained change across the United Nations SDGs and society at large,” says Jaz. “I have learned to say “yes and” to new opportunities which have led to a diverse and thriving career ecosystem that I am excited to continue building in my post-MBA chapter.”
As a social impact designer and storyteller, Jaz’s variety of business interests is a culmination of her different passions. Regardless of the task at hand, she aims to combine design thinking, business acumen, and qualitative research to build a more inclusive, healthier world. She is certainly not defined by one singular career path or trajectory and credits her business school peers and professors as one catalyst for her diverse portfolio.
“I started the 1Y Accelerated MBA program at Emory as a Consortium and Social Impact Fellow and worked to further build my skills in strategy, finance, and change management as it relates to driving sustainable social impact and using business as a force for good,” says Jaz. “My MBA degree and incredible community has given me the opportunity to use my interdisciplinary and cross functional skill sets as a designer, public health practitioner, and business leader to continue building a career that spans the 3,4,5, and 6 United Nations SDGs.”
Tough topics are never off-limits with this entrepreneur, in fact, she’s more than comfortable taking on nontraditional issues on stage. As a motivational and educational speaker who has spoken on 130+ global stages – including as a Women Deliver Power Stage Speaker – she credits that skill to her work with learners from around the world developing impactful presentations. Her advice to those looking to sharpen their public speaking skills is to stay rooted in core values and authentic identity.
“Identify your unique value proposition to your audience and the world at large based on those values, and find ways to continuously assess if you are actually creating value in your work and in your presentation styles to determine what and if needs to change to better meet user needs,” she suggests.
So, what’s ahead for her in her beloved Atlanta community? Jaz says she’s growing, building, and amplifying in her hometown and encourages those interested in keeping up with emerging projects to follow her on LinkedIn.
Photos from Jasmine Burton