25 Years – 25 Profiles: Sally Menken

MBS Helps

The academic year of 2016/17 is a truly special one for Munich Business School: MBS celebrates its 25th anniversary. To mark the jubilee, we would like to present you 25 people from the “MBS cosmos” and their stories from 25 years of Munich Business School – in our blog series “25 Years – 25 Profiles”. 

Doing Good While Studying

Sally Menken is a 2013 Bachelor International Business graduate of Munich Business School and founder of the student association MBS Helps e.V.

Social responsibility is an important part of the value canon of Munich Business School. It is a central element of the university’s claim – innovative, responsible, globally minded – and also reflected in the curricula of the study programs: For example, there are Social Service Projects in which the Bachelor students engage in helping disadvantaged persons; in the MBA programs, there are elective courses in Social Entrepreneurship – the solving of social issues with entrepreneurial concepts.

Another special example of social commitment at Munich Business School is the student association MBS Helps e.V. It was founded in 2012 by then Bachelor student Sally Menken and offers students from all programs an option to do good during their studies.

“I originally wanted to study something in the social area, but in the end, I decided on the Bachelor study program at MBS,” Sally says. “However, I wanted to commit to social work at the same time. I had heard that many universities have student initiatives for that cause. There weren’t any at MBS when I arrived.”

MBS Helps

The Birth of MBS Helps

What would have been more logical than founding one? “My fellow students and I were privileged in a way: We could afford to study at a private university and had no other existential worries. It was a matter of conscience for me that we should give something back to society and stand up for people who are less well-off and are dependent on the help of others.”

The name for the student initiative was found quickly: MBS Helps. The focus was on planning and performing charity events: “I thought: young people love events. I was sure I can find some others to join me quickly. I convinced some fellow students by pointing out that during their work for MBS Helps, they could apply the theoretical knowledge acquired in the studies directly to practice. For others, I used the bait that social commitment looks good on the CV and could pay off during job applications,” Sally remembers her recruiting strategy. “I quickly assembled the first ten people that were needed to establish the association and we were ready to get going.”

A Night Into the Wild

At first, that meant: many meetings, a lot of bureaucracy for founding a registered association, and waiting until they could continue. In early 2013, it was finally time for the student association MBS Helps e.V. to organize its first charity event: “A Night Into the Wild” – A charity fashion show with a subsequent after-show party in the renowned Munich club P1. Local and regional labels were there to present their current spring collections; celebrities from Munich, many sponsors and more than 500 guests attended the event. The student association collected more than 15,000 Euro for the Armich Hayil primary school in Ethiopia. The donations were used to finance the construction of a water line and sanitary facilities.

Munich AIDS Concert

The fashion event drew the attention of the Munich Chamber Orchestra (MKO) to MBS Helps. The ensemble holds an annual Munich AIDS concert for a local AIDS aid organization. The committed students gladly supported the MKO and organized the raffle at the event: just a few weeks after their first event, they were already busy finding prizes. A short time later, at the 8th Munich AIDS Concert, the students sold tickets to the guests, collecting more than 26,000 Euro. It was a successful start of their cooperation with MKO, which continues to this day.

“I am very proud to see that MBS Helps has become a fixed part of the Munich AIDS Concert and is organizing the event’s raffle for the fourth time in 2017,” Sally rejoices. “I am particularly happy that there are new students every year who want to show social commitment and continue to bring life to the idea of MBS Helps.”

MBS 25 Years 25 Profiles
Sally Menken (6th fr. r.) and the theam of MBS Helps at the 2014 Munich AIDS Concert.

A Touching Moment

In 2013, Sally organized her last event with MBS Helps: At the MBS Graduation Gala, the association had a raffle to the benefit of the NGO “Organization for Social Services for AIDS” (OSSA), which supports HIV orphans in Ethiopia.

The actual highlight of Sally’s social commitment followed a short time later: “I traveled to Africa to hand over the donations we collected at the fashion show – our first event. I visited the village on a day when the children were not in school. Still, they all came to receive me and to show their gratitude and thank me. Many of them walked for kilometers to see me. It was a very touching moment and the greatest reward for the association’s work,” Sally happily remembers her trip to Ethiopia.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree at MBS, Sally continued with Master’s studies and started her professional career. She remains in contact with Ethiopia: “I have become the ‘godmother’ of one of the children I met during my travel. We exchange letters and I support my ‘godchild’ with course materials, money for school lunch and a savings book. I hope she will have a better future because of it.”

What about her plans for her own future? “Maybe I will found a company someday. I already have some experience as MBS Helps was like a little start-up for me.”