3rd Edition of ‘Demystifying Social Impact Careers’ Conference Held in Mumbai

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Mumbai, February 24, 2020: Aiming to challenge and debunk the myths and widespread false notions surrounding career prospects in the social impact sector, the third edition of the ‘Demystifying Social Impact Careers’ conference series, a collaborative initiative launched by Arthan, Amani Institute, and The International Innovation Corps, was held on February 21, 2020, at ISDI – School of Design & Innovation, Mumbai. After the overwhelming success of the previous two editions in Delhi (April 2019) and Bengaluru (September 2019), this time too, the Conference was curated with insightful conversations explaining the transformation of the social impact sector in India and opportunities it presents.

The day-long conference had specially curated discussions, round-table sessions, and conversations around career prospects in the social impact sector, learning from the past and paving the way to future solutions. It also allowed interactions and multiple networking opportunities, in the course of the event. The list of speakers include eminent names and representatives from the social impact sector, corporate sector (CSR) and investors, including – Luis Miranda, Centre for Civil Society; Deval Sanghavi, Dasra; Amit Chandra, Bain Capital; Chetna Sinha, Mann Deshi; George Aikara, United Way Mumbai; Smita Deorah, LEAD School; Devangana Mishra, Teach for India; Aarti Wig, Yunus Social Business; Anshu Bhartia, UnLtd India; Ganesh Raja, Kotak Education Foundation; Gaurav Gupta, Dalberg, Mary Ellen Matsui, Atma; Jaspreet Gurm, TechnoServe, Sharon Buteau, LEAD at Krea University, amongst others.

There were many interesting takeaways from the day. The first session titled ‘The Long Conversation’, presented by Roshan Paul (Amani) included Deval Sanghavi (Dasra), Luis Miranda (Centre for Civil Society) and Chetna Sinha (Mann Deshi). In this session, the speakers interviewed each other about their social sector journeys. Chetna stressed on the need to listen to the people one is serving and to ensure that we should not design ‘poor’ solutions for the poor. Deval narrated his travel journey across the states in India and conversations within the family. Luis talked about the impact one individual can create even while working for the corporate sector by talking about one of his friends who helped reduce plastic waste in an FMCG company. This session was followed by three parallel panel discussions, that participants could choose from based on their interest.

Panel 1: Making a living while working in social impact, moderated by Satyam Vyas (Arthan), included Devangana Mishra (Teach for India), George Aikara (United Way Mumbai) and Smita Deorah (LEAD School). The discussions centered around transferable skills, ways to find the right opportunities, how founders should let go of the organisation as it scales and attracting people from the tech background to the social impact space.

Panel 2: Beyond CSR: The rise of corporate purpose was presented by Roshan Paul (Amani). Ganesh Raja (Kotak Education Foundation) shared his experiences of working with the communities and how one had to live like the people they are intending to serve if their challenges are to be truly understood. Gaurav Gupta (Dalberg) spoke about how one should focus on the problem that needs to be solved and design for it instead of getting into the discussion of sectors.

Panel 3: Learning from Mistakes: Building a career in the impact sector was moderated by Shehzia Lilani (Amani). Gayatri Divecha (Godrej Group), Jaspreet Gurm (TechnoServe) and Sharon Buteau (LEAD at Krea University) spoke about some of the key mistakes people make while transitioning into the sector and stressed on the importance of understanding that working in the social impact sector does not mean easier workloads and seeing immediate change. Time, effort, and resilience is needed to work in this sector and most importantly, having an open mind to understand the multiple layers of problems that exist before coming up with solutions.

Lunch included discussion tables on topics such as Social Finance by Ashutosh Tyagi, AI for Social Good by Nikhil Velpanur from Wadhwani AI. Mridhula Sridharan (Arthan) and Arjun Sashidhar (Amani) moderated a table on Transferability of Skills from Corporate to Social Sector. Anshu Bhartia (UnLtd India) spoke about gender while Mary Ellen Matsui (Atma) led discussions on Grassroots Social Change. Shriya Sethi (IIC) spoke about working with Governments in the social sector.

The day ended with ‘Walk Your Talk’. This session, moderated by Mahamaya Navlakha (Arthan) included 4 speakers who shared their personal stories of change in a TED talk format. Amit Chandra (Bain Capital) spoke about striking a balance between taking advice and following your heart. Mary Ellen Matsui (Atma) spoke about the mental health challenges entrepreneurs face and the need to address this. Sophy Sivaraman (Indian Documentary Foundation) spoke about her journey from corporate advertising into the impact space and the importance of believing that things can change for the better. Sujata Sahu (17000 ft Foundation) talked about the importance of an idea that moves you, and the need to build practical models to achieve goals.

The event saw a turnout of more than 130 participants and 25+ speakers from the sector who shared their experiences during the day. Attendees went away with a greater understanding of what to expect from the impact sector – in terms of the variety of work opportunities and how to navigate them.

After three successful editions, Demystifying Social Impact Careers hopes to travel to more cities across the country to pave way for more people to transition to the growing social impact sector in India.