How to Start a Career in Social Impact

With the need to address key issues ranging from sustainability to equality taking centre stage, empowering the youth of today to actively participate in these causes has become more important than ever. A joint effort by the Yunus Business Centre @ Sunway Education Group (YSBC@SEG), Sunway Environmental Society and Sunway Social Innovators Club, the “How to Start a Career in Social Impact” webinar held on 24 June 2021 to showcase the possibilities of a career in social impact. Participants consisted of students, youth and interested members of the public and industry.

The speaker of the webinar was Mr. Saqib Sheikh, a Sunway University media lecturer and serial social entrepreneur, whose many initiatives include Urban Hijau, an urban permaculture farm located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the Rohingya Project, a blockchain-based financial and inclusion start-up for Rohingya and other stateless people worldwide.

With the tagline of “Passion isn’t logical, it is personal”, Saqib emphasised that passion lies at the core of such a career. Hence, anyone aspiring to tread this path must first form a personal connection to the cause they will be associating with to ensure commitment for the long run. For that, one must be first willing to involve themselves in the field through volunteering, activism and NGO work, among others.

Saqib also highlighted that embarking on a career in social impact required the coming together of traditional business skills (such as financing, business planning, and human resource management) and new approaches to enterprise (including community involvement, sustainable supply chain management and how to ensure the outcomes benefit the stakeholders).

Besides sharing useful pointers in kickstarting a career in social impact, he laid out the many hurdles one may face in this career path and how to navigate them effectively. Interestingly, while the career path is unorthodox, it provides the opportunity to take on a plethora of roles and challenges, to move between constantly evolving social issues and to build a varied career.

Given his considerable experience, he also used the opportunity to shed light into ways of maximising social impact efforts. The end goal after all is about contributing to a wider purpose, something beyond oneself.