By Max Lynch (Gabelli Business School class of 2019), Fordham Social Innovation Collaboratory Associate.
On Monday the 19th Fordham hosted a panel session focused on the global need for good economies. The session was titled, “WANTED: A Better Economic System” and was organized by Fordham Changemaker professor Dr. Michael Pirson. The session explored what panel presenters David Levine, Christian Felber, Hunter Lovins, and Brent Martini think of both our current economy and our future economy as it relates to social justice and global sustainability. To learn more about the panel focus and presenters, click here.
Being an undergraduate Fordham student who hopes to spend a successful life’s work in social innovation, I wanted to take advantage of having an amazing panel of social innovators before me by asking one key question. My question to the panel was; is it possible to pursue a successful life in social innovation right out of college, and how much of a risk would that be?
When I talk to my friends about careers in social innovation we all come to the same conclusion. We are under the impression that we must first pursue traditional field experience before we shift into social impact work. For example, I am an Applied Accounting and Finance major hoping to one day be an impact investor. To get to this position, I had this idea in my mind that it is almost required to spend 2-4 years in traditional finance roles before proceeding into impact investing. To me there were many advantages to this approach, but also one big disadvantage. I would have to sacrifice my passion in return for higher income and more reputable field experience (assuming I work for a major firm like JP Morgan, as so many people at Fordham often do). None of this was what I wanted to do, but I felt that it was a requirement. This example can be related to any other field, and presents a major challenge to today’s generation of Changemakers.
My question awarded me and possibly many others with just the response we were hoping for. Panelist Hunter Lovins took charge on the response, saying that yes, of course there will be risk, but the current need for social innovators is greater than ever before, and the momentum is just getting started. In example she pointed to three initiatives to look into; Bank for the Common Good, Global Alliance for Banking on Values, and the New Resource Bank. These three banks are contributing to the integration of our economy and social impact, and are also prime examples of businesses looking for Changemaker employees. After her response, Professor Frank Werner approached me in vigorous support of Hunter Lovins’ response. He motivated the importance of today’s generation of Changemakers to the world and enforced that the risk of pursuing a career in social impact right out of college would be well worth the effort.
To have two credible figures, one being Hunter Lovins and the other Dr. Werner respond in full support of pursuing social impact right out of college was extremely empowering. It helped me have more of a direction when thinking about my future, which can so often feel like a dark abyss. It motivated me to continue my hard work for social innovation initiatives at Fordham, as I know that the skills, experience, and knowledge that I pick up now will come of great use after college. Lastly, it made me comfortable with both being different and with going against the grain of traditional career paths. Apple achieved tremendous success by being different, and I believe that I and anyone else with that very belief can do the same.