The Ideal Job: Putting Your Professional Knowledge to Use to Make a Positive Impact
This summer I had the wonderful and kind-of-unexpected opportunity to work in an impact investing company called Creas S.A. I say “unexpected” because to be honest,
three months ago I wouldn’t have believed that I was going to be writing this post: one week before the summer break I still didn’t have any internship lined up!
Although travelling and relaxing was also a very good alternative for the summer, I knew that I wanted to leverage on the opportunity that INSEAD gives to try something different to my career, and impact investing was my very first option. Thus, one month before the end of P3 I started to send emails to all the companies and the INSEAD Alumni I could think of.
There were no opportunities available… and suddenly, the bell rang.
For those who don’t know about impact investing, the term refers to the activity of investing in companies, vehicles or funds looking for both financial return and positive social, economic and/or environmental impact. When I first heard about it at INSEAD (I also took the “impact investing” elective), I was very excited: it could be the ideal job for my long-term career!
Since college, I have always pursued to use my professional background to have a greater impact on society. This could be a great field to do so. However, I couldn’t help being suspicious about the honesty of the decision-making process. How important was making an impact? What can be considered as impact? It was definitely worth testing it during the summer.
After having an interview where both parties felt “the fit”, I was invited to spend six weeks at Creas, in Madrid. Creas is the first Impact Investment Fund in Spain under European regulation. Its current new fund called “Creas Impacto” invests in companies with an innovative approach and a sustainable revenue model to address social problems such as climate change, elderly situation or education.
Besides, Creas spends part of its time trying to promote impact investing in Spain, where the industry is still in its early stage contrary to other European countries. Indeed, thanks to Creas and other participants, Spain recently joined the Global Steering Group for impact investing, an important signal for the market.
As Creas is very small, my tasks were very diverse and I tried to help in anything the teams needed me to. Thus, I had the chance to take part in the whole process of a deal: sourcing by analysing market opportunities and doing some research about trends, making early contact with potential deals, having dealflow meetings with the team and the Investment Committee, doing some company valuation and preparing presentations and reports for internal and external use.
To give a specific example, I worked on the evaluation of a potential energy-related deal. Thanks to my professional background in the industry, I leveraged more resources and knowledge to analyse the strategy of the company and identify the risks of the deal.
I truly enjoyed my time at Creas and the internship was over faster than expected.
I realised that, although private equity might not be one of my passionate professional career choices, it becomes appealing when combined with social impact.
Besides, I could see how committed Creas is to making a real social impact: they invest a great part of their time trying to analyse, measure and enhance the impact of their investments in many different realms (customers, environment, employees, unserved population, etc.). All the decision-making is very social impact-driven. My internship confirmed my belief that business has a lot of potential to create a sustainable change, contrary to one-time donations. Looking for profitability does not make it less social, but more sustainable.
As a result, I can only be very thankful to Luis, Javier, Emilio, Francisco, Lara and Lorenzo for making my internship at Creas possible. It has been a pleasure meeting such amazing professionals and wonderful people. I also wanted to extend my acknowledgements to INSEAD for awarding me the Social Impact Award that made all the summer arrangements easier.
There are many ways to have a social impact through your job. It can be indirectly (through your clients, customers, employees, etc.) or more directly, such as working for an NGO, in impact investing or in a company with a clear value proposition for an unserved market (i.e. INSEAD alumni-founded PeoplePods, check out the podcast on social ventures). Both are more than necessary.
If you want to have a social impact career, I suggest that you think about the kind of impact you want to have and what you are passionate about. Once you know, it will probably not be easy; but do not despair. It will take time. It took me time to find my internship. Have trust! Because you will end up finding what you want.
There is still a lot of room for businesses to be a Force for Good and help create a more sustainable and fair world. Be part of this change!