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 am a recovering brain scientist turned career coach and social entrepreneur. Right now, I am partnering with Dr. Mark Albion, former Harvard Business School Professor and Co-Founder of Net Impact to grow More Than Money Careers. More Than Money Careers is a for-profit social enterprise that helps students and professionals Get Clear, Get Connected and Get Hired for well-paying career opportunities that match their values.
More Than Money Careers offers an online library of modules and online training programs that university staff can use as they work with students and working professionals to get hired for career opportunities in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Social Enterprise, and Sustainable Business.
We are in our first year of operations, and thus far we have 13 campus partners: Brown University, Carlson School of Management (University of Minnesota), Darden School of Business (University of Virginia), George Washington University School of Business, Kenan-Flagler School of Business (University of North Carolina), Lokey Graduate School of Business (Mills College), Ross School of Business (University of Michigan), Seattle University, Smith School of Business (University of Maryland), Terry College of Business (University of Georgia), Texas State University, Yale School of Management, and Zicklin School of Business (Baruch College).
Is “doing good” a key reason why you chose this job?
One of my passions is helping emerging and established professionals make informed career decisions. I am dedicated to helping leaders get clear, get connected, and get hired for career opportunities that pay well and honor their values.
The good news is that well-paying values-driven career options have grown over the past 20 years. Whether in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainable Development, Impact Investing, Education Reform or Clean Tech, there are many opportunities today that pay well while contributing to solve the social and environmental challenges we face. Importantly, and instead of having to become a social entrepreneur, emerging and established leaders can now get hired by sustainable businesses or social enterprises. This is a big difference from even just 5 years ago.
For 7 years, I was a career coach at a variety of career centers. First at Brown University and then at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, most of my work centered around helping students (liberal arts undergraduates, PhD candidates, MBA students) align their values with their paychecks. Throughout my experience as a career center staff I have developed a process and resources that help students and working professionals successfully compete for career opportunities in CSR, social enterprises and sustainable business that best fit them.
When I met Dr. Mark Albion in 2008, we started discussing how we could combine his inspirational and aspirational messages with my ‘in-the-trenches’ coaching approaches, and in 2010, More Than Money Careers was born.
What do you love most about your job?
The vast majority of career center staff have the best intentions when it comes to helping students translate their education into a career that makes a difference. Unfortunately, career centers are severely underfunded and understaffed, which lead career center staff not to have the time or resources they need to be up-to-date about newer career trends such as careers in CSR, social enterprise, and sustainable business.
What would you wish were different about your job?
I think as most social entrepreneurs, I wish I had 50 hours in my day so that I could accomplish all I want to do professionally while still having enough time for my 6-year-old daughter and my husband, and some time to spare for some hobbies.
I love the flexibility of being an entrepreneur, but I wish I didn’t have so much on my plate!
What were some of the most important experiences that you’ve had that led you to where you are today?
I’ve always been interested in how people make decisions. I grew up in the projects, and there you see a lot of people doing things that they know are wrong. Everyone knows it’s wrong to do drugs, yet people do drugs. Everyone knows it’s wrong to hit kids or their spouse, yet there is a domestic violence. Why do people do things they know are wrong? If they could remember that what they are doing is wrong, would they decide to stop doing that? Driven by these questions, I worked my way through college, graduating with a degree in experimental psychology and went on to earn my PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, focusing my research on brain plasticity or how our brain rewire itself as a result of experience.
After finishing my PhD I became a postdoc at Brown University, where I realized that instead of being a theoretical researcher, I wanted to use my knowledge about the brain to help others make better decisions. More specifically, I wanted to help people make informed decisions about their careers. I started volunteering at the Brown Career Center under the mentorship of Bev Ehrich, Ron Foreman and Kimberley Delgizzo. They hired me after 8 months, and ever since I have been helping students and alumni find their path to meaning and money through sound career decisions.
Since 2004 I have been helping liberal arts students, PhD candidates and MBAs secure well-paying values-driven career opportunities in sustainable business, social enterprise and corporate social responsibility (CSR).
By co-founding More Than Money Careers with Dr. Mark Albion, I am now dedicated to sharing the knowledge and best practices Dr. Mark Albion and I have optimized and created with universities so that their students and alumni can secure well-paying career opportunities that are part of the solution to the social and environmental challenges we face.
How did you get this job?
Well, I must say that I did the opposite of what many people would have done in 2010. At the height of the Great Recession, I left my cushy job at a top career center to build a social enterprise. As the Echoing Green Team would say, that was my ‘Moment of Obligation’. I felt that if I didn’t try to build this social enterprise then, I would always be wondering whether I should have.
I was very fortunate to have been a career coach for the MBA Entrepreneurial Management Academy what at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business. Throughout my years there, I learned valuable entrepreneurship and social innovation frameworks and best practices from Dr. Don Kuratko (Dr. K). I apply many of these insights on a regular basis. I am also very fortunate to be partnering with Dr. Mark Albion, whose experience as a serial social entrepreneur has been invaluable in keeping me sane throughout this adventure. I am most fortunate though, to have a husband who has a very stable job and who has a seemingly infinite amount of patience to provide feedback and support when needed.
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?
Being an entrepreneur is a tough tough adventure. Before launching a social enterprise or a new nonprofit, be sure to do your research. It is a lot easier to get hired or build a partnership with an existing social enterprise or nonprofit than it is to build a new one. Websites such as Give2Get Jobs, the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, the William James Foundation, or Idealist.org have databases of social enterprises and nonprofits that will help you identify possible for-profit or nonprofit entities before you launch your own.
We tend to believe that we are the first ones thinking about these issues in a certain way. However, chances are that others have not only thought about it but attempted to do something about it. Leveraging technology to conduct research and build partnership will lead to greater impact than re-building the wheel by starting a new entity.
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 would probably have completed a PhD in Counseling Psychology instead of a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Don’t get me wrong, understanding how sets of interdependent brain networks influence one another to lead to specific perceptions and actions is pretty cool and was lots of fun. But that knowledge is probably less useful that counseling techniques when it comes to my current occupation.
If you did not have this job and time/money were not a constraint, what would you ideally like to do?
Professionally, there is not a better way for me to have an impact than the one I am pursuing now. But if money was not an issue and I could do whatever I wanted, I would probably watch TED Talks nonstop.
Finally, what advice would you have for others in the Good Generation who are interested in your job or career path?
My advice for the Good Generation is to focus on your next career move. No one can plan for their whole career in advance. By focusing on planning for your next career move, you can get clear, get connected, and get hired faster for opportunities that best fit you.
I wish that everyone could go through our online modules so that they can get clear, get connected, and get hired for well-paying values-driven career opportunities in CSR, social enterprise or sustainable business.
Not seeing these opportunities from your current vantage point doesn’t mean that these opportunities don’t exist. Our process and resources, shared through our multimedia modules will enable you to not only learn about values-driven options currently available, but also to get clear about what career options best fit you for your next career move, and how to get hired for opportunities that best fit you.
I hope that in the future, through our modules or through our campus visits, Mark and I can make the process of securing a well-paying values-driven career opportunity easier and faster for emerging professionals.