Next fall, I will be a full-time analyst for Credit Suisse’s oil and gas coverage group in Houston, Texas.

Now that I’ve made you scoff at my greed and selfishness, let’s talk.

Most people I’ve met have this misconception of an argumentative dialogue between business and everyone else — a continuous fight between profit maximization and the interests of concerned stakeholders. Businessmen are considered greedy and self-serving, while other parties are considered ignorant and obstructive. After a while, these misconceptions cloud our vision of people on both sides of the equation and hinder our ability to recognize the win-win scenarios we can create together.

The headlines we see every day certainly don’t disprove these prejudices: “Financial Crises,” “Fraud” and “Reckless Trading” oftentimes flood our inboxes. Going off these headlines alone, it’s no wonder the McDonough School of Business’ sigil is apparently Slytherin.

Anti-business rhetoric from Main Street is certainly returned in full from Wall Street, but that only adds fuel to the fire. By engaging in divisive rhetoric between the two communities, we make it that much harder to envision any sort of situation in which the two can work together.

Our university is not immune to these misconceptions, and the daily conversations I have are manifestations of the greater problem.

As a member of the International Relations Club, I have a lot of friends in the School of Foreign Service whom I look to when discussing international affairs. When we’re up to our noses discussing Southeast Asian water infrastructure development, or anything else that’s “so Georgetown,” they oftentimes forget that I’m in the business school; after awhile, they take a step back and say, “Wait, you’re from the business school, you don’t have a soul.”

Like Optimus Prime, there’s more to us than meets the eye.

When John Mackey, Whole Foods co-CEO and co-founder, first started as an entrepreneur, he had a misconception about business in line with the argumentative dialogue I described before. He originally believed that businesses were greedy and that profitability had to come at the expense of others. But as his venture Safer Way, which would later become Whole Foods, began to take off, he quickly realized that business is “based on cooperation and voluntary exchange,” rather than bullying or coercion.

Cooperation is the key word here. Cooperation with customers, employees, local governments, suppliers. Conscious capitalists are in touch with the needs of all their stakeholders and utilize those synergies to create value in ways that profit maximization for its own sake would never be able to achieve. That’s how Whole Foods does business, and they’ve done pretty well so far.

Many of us in the MSB have passions and interests that aren’t rolling around in a pile of money. To us, profits in and of themselves are not our goals; they are means to achieve our goals. We have dreams, business plans, political ambitions and ideas for social initiatives. We choose to study the business of competitively generating profits because we want to be able to have some idea of how to effectively market, manage and finance our goals to give them the highest probability of success. For the same reasons, many College students pursue a minor in business administration, and SFS students seek a certificate in international business development.

The sooner we start understanding each other as joint stakeholders in the problems we face, the sooner we’ll be able to sustainably solve them. So to all of you diplomats, innovators, scientists and social justice workers — let’s chat.

Ryan Cunningham is a senior in the MSB and chief investment officer for the Georgetown University Student Investment Fund. Next fall, he will be an analyst for Credit Suisse.

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