Good Profiles feature members of our Good Generation who are either out there in the field doing interesting work or still in the trenches of schools and institutions waiting to make their mark on the world. Have your own story to tell? Know someone who would be great to be profiled? Please sign-up or leave a note here!
What do you do for a living nowadays?
I work as a consultant in Boston for FSG, a nonprofit strategy, research, and evaluation consulting firm. I’ve been with FSG since 2009. During my time at FSG, I’ve worked on a range of projects with corporations, nonprofits, foundations, school systems, and other public sector entities. FSG started out as Foundation Strategy Group more than 10 years ago, based on the concept of bringing more strategic thinking into the social sector (particularly the philanthropic sector). Over time FSG has broadened its scope to work with cross-sector players in addressing complex social problems in education, global health, and global development. Most of my work has focused on FSG’s U.S.-based clients, primarily in education and economic development.
Is “doing good” a key reason why you chose this job?
FSG’s mission is to work across sectors to help organizations solve complex social problems. This mission was a primary driver behind me joining the organization. FSG’s work is connected to impact through the clients we serve and through the articles and research we publish about concepts like shared measurement, collective impact, and shared value. “Doing good” can span all sectors, and it’s been inspiring to see that play out in real-time on a daily basis.
What do you love most about your job?
I enjoy the supportive environment in which I work, where other like-minded people are focused on serving clients and driving toward greater social impact. I prefer collegial and team-based work environments, so this job has been a great fit at an organization that has me working in teams on a daily basis. The idea of collective problem-solving is energizing, and the variety of work is also exciting. I’d say the best experiences are when we get direct feedback from clients on how our work has directly led to change.
What would you wish were different about your job?
Anyone I’ve ever talked to who’s passionate about the social sector wishes they could do more with the limited time they have. I’ve always found that a challenge, to not get spread too thin in my commitments. I’m still learning the importance of setting time aside to think creatively and be more proactive in how I manage my time.
What were some of the most important experiences that you’ve had that led you to where you are today?
One of the most formative experiences for me was during an undergraduate summer internship for Cancer Research UK’s national events department in London. My mother is a breast cancer survivor, and I’ve always been drawn to this issue because of its deep personal connection to my family. While working there that summer, a light bulb went off for me: I could apply my skills to have some small impact an issue that I cared about. Once I realized that there was an opportunity to build a career (and not just do it as a hobby or for a few hours a month on the side) in working on addressing social issues that I cared about, then it never really appealed to me to just have a job for the sake of making money.
How did you get this job?
I learned about FSG through a friend of a friend at Kellogg. I didn’t know much about the world of nonprofit consulting before I went to b-school, but once I started to learn more I realized how much of a good fit it could be given my prior work in the social sector. Given that I came to business school from a nonprofit background, some people encouraged me to go get for-profit experience with a large company before I continued down the nonprofit path. While I saw the merits of that, I ultimately decided against that advice because I had the opportunity to do what I really wanted to do right out of b-school in going to work across multiple sectors at FSG.
If you had to make trade-offs, do you think they were justified or should it be different for others in the same situation going forward?
I also knew that my client work at FSG would give me an outlet to advise for-profit clients, so it didn’t feel like I was losing the opportunity to get exposure to social impact through the lens of the for-profit world. I’m a strong believer in the power of companies impacting social change while simultaneously pursuing profit, so I see many opportunities for other people who want to pursue their “do good” passions from inside companies. In fact, I think the world needs more and more people who can impact change across sectors, be it for-profit, nonprofit or public sector.
If you had to do it all over again, knowing what you know today, what past choices would you have made differently with regards to your career?
I’m an optimistic person, so I don’t spend a lot of time replaying my decisions and thinking how I’d do them differently. However, one thing that I would encourage anyone to do as they build their career in the social sector is to maintain a strong network of mentors, advisors, and colleagues who can be resources for you. I feel blessed to have close friends and colleagues, but I do think there are some relationships that I could have cultivated more intentionally over the years to keep those ties strong over time, particularly in earlier stages of my career.
If you did not have this job and time/money were not a constraint, what would you ideally like to do?
If I wasn’t working in the social sector, I’ve always thought it would be fun to travel around the country and write a travel blog or series of short stories on the lives of people I interact with through my travels. Getting paid to travel around and see unique places would be an enjoyable job, but if that’s all I was doing, I would probably get restless and start to wonder what kind of impact I was having in the world. Retaining some connection to serving others would have to be a priority.
Finally, what advice would you have for others in the Good Generation who are interested in your job or career path?
For those of you in undergrad or grad school considering a career in the social sector, never underestimate the importance of internships. That was my first door opening to working in the social sector, and it was a fairly low-risk way to try out certain jobs before you take the plunge into the social sector. The other big piece of advice for anyone in the Good Generation is to stay connected to impact through stories from the direct beneficiaries of your work, and/or by getting “on the ground” as much as possible to touch and feel the results of what you’re working on.