Social Impact Careers: Do Good and Live Well

Thomas Nugent

Thomas Nugent - BusinessBecause

Thomas Nugent is the Deputy Editor for BusinessBecause.

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Do you want make an impact in your career? Are you motivated by purpose as well as profit? If so, then a career in social impact may be for you.

Whether it’s with a nonprofit, an NGO, or a multinational company with a strong focus on corporate social responsibility (CSR), there are an increasing number of career opportunities for professionals wanting to make social impact.

What is CSR?

Companies who invest in CSR integrate social and environmental concerns in their business operations.

By practicing corporate social responsibility, firms can better understand and address the impact they have on all aspects of society; including economic, social, and environmental.

What are social impact careers?

Social impact careers, meanwhile, extend across industries and functions, giving you a wide remit to make a positive impact from within the company you’re working for.

You could be working for a nonprofit focused on bringing clean water to disadvantaged communities, or a startup disrupting the oil and gas sector and supporting our need for more clean energy.

You might also enter a larger, more established corporation in a CSR role. That might be in a role as a lead for Spotify’s Social Impact Global team, or as part of the investment team at BlackRock, which recently announced that it was making sustainability its new standard for investing.

When it comes to sectors, you could end up in sustainable marketing, helping to fight overconsumption, or in supply chain ensuring every stage from product source to consumer is as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.

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You could work in urban planning. Your career in social impact could see you working on making cities more sustainable, diverse, and inclusive, and connecting local communities together for social good.

How can you start your social impact career?

Many of these jobs require not just an understanding of how a business works, but the soft skills required to influence across organizations and to build a professional network—whether that’s a network of investors to help a sustainable startup grow, or a network of experts who can help assist with the successful operations of an NGO.

If the array of social impact careers on offer seems tempting, and you think it might be for you, a postgraduate business degree could help you get there.

An MBA or business master’s will give you a strong, generalist set of skills that you can apply across industries. If you want to specialize your career in a certain area, you might also consider a specialized MBA or specialized business master’s.

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For Timothy Llewellyn-Davis, an MBA from Barcelona’s Esade Business School was a way to swap his biotech career for a post-MBA career in social impact as an analyst at Oryx Impact, an impact investment firm.

It was after studying a module in sustainable investment on the MBA, he says, that he was inspired to make the switch.

His move is a common one among business school grads, explains Lisa Hehenberger, director of the Esade Entrepreneurship Institute and the Esade Center for Social Impact.

“We’ve realized that students are really interested in these concepts. They’re asking how they can apply the skills developed at business school to have a positive impact.”

After an MBA at HEC Paris, Hilary Matson left a role at Amazon to launch her own sustainable travel company.  An MBA, she says, can give you the space to explore social entrepreneurship, draw up a sustainable business plan, and lean on the experience of professors and alumni who have extensive startup experience.

Whichever path you choose for your career, if it’s social impact you’re after, then an MBA or business master’s degree could open doors to new opportunities.

Thomas Nugent

Thomas Nugent - BusinessBecause

Thomas Nugent is the Deputy Editor for BusinessBecause, with responsibilities supporting the Editor with content and SEO strategy, alongside editorial team development.

Thomas is an experienced writer who has written articles covering business education, management, careers, and the future of work.

He launched and edits the BusinessBecause Insights series, which explores the latest research and trends from the business school classroom, drawing on the expertise of world-leading professors to inspire and inform current and future leaders. The Insights series has covered things like the sharing economy, working from home during COVID-19, the future of the office, NFTs, and ESG investing.

Thomas earned an MA in English from the University of Aberdeen before completing an MSc in Journalism at Robert Gordon University. He joined BusinessBecause in October 2017.

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