“I get my mind blown every time, and every single day. I’m learning so fast and so much”
Brittany Lane (FMS ’15) chatted with us recently about her new position as Editor at Unreasonable Group in Boulder, Colorado. We wanted to know more about what makes Unreasonable Group such an inspiring and exciting place to work. Brittany shared insights about life and launching her purpose-driven career after FMS and graduate school:
Tell us about your new position
I love my job. Unreasonable Group works to drive resources and knowledge to entrepreneurs in emerging markets. I focus on our blog at unreasonable.is and edit everything that comes my way. I also pitch ideas for content and have great conversations with current thought leaders and mentors that are connected to Unreasonable Institute and Unreasonable Group. We are planning to feature more writing from the entrepreneurs who have graduated from Unreasonable Institute as well.
What has been the most exciting part about working with Unreasonable and professional life in the impact space?
For me, the people are the most exciting part. I’ve heardDaniel Epstein and many others at Unreasonable believe that business is really just about people, not the strategy or the marketing, and that holds really true for me. The variety of people who are interested in Unreasonable and have worked with us in the past or that do work with us now is fascinating. These are people from all over the world, and people from all sectors. Having conversations with such bright minds is great. I get my mind blown every time and every single day. I’m learning so fast and so much; it’s really rewarding work.
How are you directly applying some of the skills learned through FMS?
Without FMS and CSIL, I wouldn’t have discovered Unreasonable. I definitely wouldn’t have gotten this position if I hadn’t gone through the program. I highly encourage the training, and FMS Fellows have the opportunity to place with Unreasonable East Africa, which would be awesome.
For me, coming from a policy study background, the most important thing was being introduced to this whole world of responsible investing and social enterprise. It gave me notions of business for good and an introduction to the general ecosystem. Through FMS training, I learned who the key players are in this space, how investment plays into it, about the lifecycle and different levels of startup. To be able to speak the language of whatever industry you’re in is a really important baseline. Especially for me working with words on the journalism side of things, language is really important. Plus the connections were amazing.
It was the PERFECT introduction and launching point for me. Without the FMS training experience I don’t know what I would be doing right now. I was studying policy but realized traditional development work wasn’t for me. This is a fresh and energetic approach to solving big and seemingly impossible problems.
What are you most excited to learn in your current position?
I’m most excited about how I can grow within Unreasonable and position myself as a leader as the company grows. Learning how I can improve in my role and continue to spread the culture of giving is very important to me. I just started and already I’ve learned so much, I’m just excited to see what’s next.
What are your top three recommendations for someone looking to start a purpose-driven career?
Take some time to really know your values because they are your distinct compass
Subscribe, Follow, Share, Tweet as much as you can about this field and its language. It’s ever-evolving and the time is ripe for you to actively participate.
Surround yourself with people who share similar values and see how you can support each other.
Like many of our alumni, Brittany joined FMS looking for a change from her previous field of work and study, and now directly credits her FMS training as the launchpad for her current career path.
If you are looking for a way to launch into the field of social enterprise and impact management, be sure to apply before September 4th at go.miis.edu/fms and start your purpose-driven career. After all, what are you waiting for?
Follow Brittany: @brittanylane515 | Follow Unreasonable: @unreasonable | Follow FMS@FMScouts
From social worker to Director of Global Engagements at the fast growing startup MovingWorlds – Nafessa Kassim’s career path has been anything but a straight line from A to B. In this interview she talks to FMS Program Director, Erina McWilliam-Lopez about how she combined her passion for enacting positive social change with her entrepreneurial savvy to take on one of the greatest barriers to sustainable development – access to human talent.
Tell us about your role at MovingWorlds
As the Director of Global Engagements I wear many hats – especially since we’re a growing company. My job is to make sure that people and organizations are prepared to have high-impact Experteering engagements. This means ensuring that Experteers and Host Organizations establish clear expectations for success that lead to long-term and culturally respectful social impact. I do this through the following activities:
Developing and delivering online training and resources that support synchronicity between the Host Organization and the Experteer.
Overseeing all matches. While our matching site does most of this automatically, we curate all opportunities and oversee all matches for quality.
Creating and building partnerships with different Host Organizations and Partner Organizations, like Frontier Market Scouts.
Project management of our corporate clients who are focusing on Corporate Volunteerism. I am currently working with Microsoft and its MySkills4Afrika program.
What is MovingWorlds all about? What need is it fulfilling in the world?
The World Economic Forum, ANDE, and others have indicated that a lack of access to human talent is one of the leading barriers to progress in development.
MovingWorlds functions like a short-term Peace Corps experience for skilled professionals focused on tackling this talent gap. We help social impact organizations working on last-mile challenges, and which have employment generation potential, with the necessary talent to overcome barriers to scale. We do this by harnessing the desire of people to travel the world in more meaningful ways and connect them to organizations that will provide them free accommodations and immersive experiences in exchange for their time and skills.
Since managing international, skills-based volunteering engagements can be tricky, we have developed an online training and facilitated planning process to ensure these Experteering matches can happen at scale, be culturally inclusive, and create a sustainable impact.
Talk about your own professional background – how did you end up where you are today?
My path started as a counselor and case manager for sexual assault survivors, and then arrested youth in the juvenile justice system in San Francisco. In these positions I worked to support my clients and advocated for their rights as individuals and as a group. Working with high risk populations provided me with an incredible amount of humility, admiration for people’s strength and endurance.
As time progressed I wanted to expand my experience in human rights issues to the worldwide context and accepted a fellowship with the American Indian Foundation in India. There, I worked with communities who were HIV positive. My work included running an HIV positive person’s community center with career and personal resources as well as fieldwork in the slums to raise awareness about parent to child contraction. During my time in India, I was also able to develop a sustainable livelihood program for HIV positive, widowed women.
My experiences in India exposed me to extreme levels of poverty, various types of human rights issues, and the challenges of international development work. I was also deeply inspired by the passion, drive, and endurance of the people and communities that were focusing on a holistic approach to development. It also exposed me to innovative solutions to drive social change. One such project was working with an incredible local team to co-produce, co-direct and perform in a play about domestic violence in South Asia.
Inspired by my field experience, I returned to the US to attend Columbia University where I pursued a Masters in Social Work with a focus on International Social Enterprise and Administration as well as a Master’s in Global Public Health. The two degrees were my attempt to develop skills to create holistic impact, hence the focus on social and programmatic skills.
My interest in holistic development deepened throughout grad school and led me to co-lead a research project in Aceh, Indonesia. The project evaluated microfinance programs implemented post-tsunami, in an innovative way by evaluating the impact of microfinance with social indicators and comparing it to the financial indicator evaluations, to identify if a holistic impact existed or not; this research was recently published.
All these experiences enabled me to work as a consultant for international programming, international corporate volunteerism, and ultimately led me to MovingWorlds. I was the first employee at MovingWorlds for a position that was never publicized. After meeting the founders, I helped highlight risks areas and proposed solutions – they offered me a full-time position shortly thereafter. I was drawn to MovingWorlds not only because of its status as an emerging social enterprise, but more so because of its mission – to empower local organizations to solve last-mile challenges and create jobs, which, from my experience, was something that I knew was critical to creating sustainable change.
As a professional, you facilitate “Experteering” experiences- tell us about it, and what is an “Experteer” exactly?
Experteering is the combination of expertise and volunteering. We call “Experteers” people who volunteer their skills overseas with social impact organizations for any length of time.
Typically, Experteers are skilled professionals that work on very specific projects that are initiated locally. The goal of any Experteering engagement is to leave a sustainable impact by addressing a challenge, and also building the skills of the team they support. At MovingWorlds, we help enable this by sourcing specific projects, providing training on best practices, and facilitating a holistic planning process.
Talk about any emerging trends you see, or stories that are unfolding as MovingWorlds evolves
A strong trend that we are seeing is the individual and non-traditional pursuit of learning and skill building. A lot of Experteers are using international service as a way to build their profiles and prove their passion for globally focused careers. In our own experience we see global service as an important vehicle for building 21st Century leadership. In fact our Experteers have ended up at organizations like the Gates Foundation, industry-leading agencies and have even received promotions after completing international service experiences. This is because employers are looking for people that can operate in ambiguity, show genuine curiosity, and have a proven record of taking initiative and delivering results.
I also find it interesting to see how traditional work paths are adapting. Now, more than ever, you are seeing large companies work with small but innovative companies, and traditional development organizations work with corporations, all to pool their best assets and create a world-wide impact. A great example of this is outlined in Forbes. As people work towards creating social impact around them, the players are focusing less on their differences and more on their commonalities and unique expertise, and when brought together they are stronger than ever.
What’s on the horizon for MovingWorlds? Any new and exciting updates to share?
Our team has noticed that the number one reason people don’t go Experteering is time away from work. Based on the success of our international corporate volunteering programs, we’ve realized that employers face massive gains by enabling their employees to go Experteering. As such, we are going to roll out some campaigns soon to help any employee at any company make the case for more time off to go travel the world. We like to say that for the price of a conference, we can connect people to the leadership development experience of a lifetime, one that builds a better world in the process.
The latest FMS Global Impact Chats webinar session featured sustainable supply chain management specialist and FMS alum Ben Couch. Click here to view a video recording of the presentation.
There is so much opportunity for improvement in the way we produce, process and distribute goods around the world, between small business loans in emerging markets, to biofuels, to smarter technology for distribution. – Ben Couch
The most recent Global Impact chat session featured guest Ben featured shared insights from his FMS experience and highlighted how it connects to his current role with Traditional Medicinals ™ Inc. Ben Couch is a supply change management and social projects specialist for Traditional Medicinals ™ Inc., a medicinal tea company headquartered in Sebastopol, CA. One of his company’s top ingredients comes from the desert in northwest India and the company is partnering with Gravis, a local NGO in Rajasthan, India, to develop a social business model. The goal for this model is to improve the livelihood of their farmers and at the same time the quality and security of their ingredient supply.
FMS Global Impact Chats are webinar sessions to enable community building and idea sharing focused on professional development, tools, and trends in the social impact space. Stay tuned for real-time FMS updates on twitter: https://twitter.com/FMScouts