An MBA Fellow’s Account of the Inspiring Capital Purposeful Growth Fellowship

Written By: Camila Magendzo

Inspiring Capital’s Purposeful Growth Fellowship is a thought-provoking, action-oriented, customizable learning experience for leaders who want to accelerate the movement toward Inclusive and Sustainable Capitalism. The Fellowship provides knowledge, tools, guidance, and community during a fully virtual, 10-week program. Ideal Fellows come from diverse ages, industries, and backgrounds but share the desires to better align their professional work with their personal purpose and uniquely contribute to Inclusive and Sustainable Capitalism.

Today we are interviewing Rachel Haynes, a second year MBA student at North Carolina State University, who is looking to enter the tech industry after earning her degree. She shares with us how the Inspiring Capital (IC) Purposeful Growth Fellowship (PGF) helped her clarify her impact and prompted her to reflect on how she plans to align her impact with her purpose as she makes a career transition after her MBA.

My name is Rachel Haynes and I’m from Cary, North Carolina. I’m currently a second year MBA student at North Carolina State University, concentrating in Marketing and Innovation Management. Prior to starting my MBA, I was completing my undergraduate degree at the University of Wisconsin in International Studies, Economics and Chinese. Because I was studying Chinese, I spent some time living in China where I became really interested in consumer behavior especially in the international market. I ended up pursuing an MBA to further my understanding of consumer behavior and marketing. It’s been an incredible experience so far. After my MBA I’m hoping to enter the technology industry in a marketing role.

The Inspiring Capital Purposeful Growth Fellowship is a community driven experience in which you are prompted to reflect on the history of your impact and the different areas in which you want to have impact in your work and life moving forward. By using tools provided to Fellows by Inspiring Capital, you learn to be more intentional and aligned to the impact you want to generate to, ultimately, live out your purpose.

The combination of community and individual reflection was a powerful pairing of the Fellowship to help the learnings stick.

All three speakers that spoke during my time in the Fellowship were fantastic. They all brought a distinct perspective and a unique story to tell. Although they had a range of different passions and interests, they all spoke around the topic of purpose and shared their purposeful life and career journeys with us.

My favorite speaker was Jerry Colonna, the CEO of Reboot and a certified professional coach. Prior to establishing his coaching practice, Colonna was a venture capitalist focused on technology-related startup investments. He talked in depth about the concept of authenticity and the idea of removing the mask that we are socialized to form in order to fit in to society. One question he posed to the audience during his seminar, which I wrote down, was “How do you benefit from the systems that you want to change?” When thinking about impact and purpose, this question made me reflect and acknowledge the systems I am an active part of and benefitting from. For example, I believe it is crucial to make sustainable choices that protect our environment. However, while I understand that there are many businesses that have a substantial carbon footprint and violate worker labor issues, I do have a history of purchasing fast fashion and contributing to these enterprises.

This question that Jerry Colonna presented made me consider my post-Fellowship decisions and even wonder on a larger scale about the systems that we, as a society, benefit from, but are collectively looking to change.

Inspiring Capital then gifted us his book, Reboot: Leadership and the Art of Growing Up, so I am excited to dive into it and continue to learn his teachings.

Once a week there is an hour-long community virtual gathering via Zoom, which is either a discussion with your cohort members or a seminar led by a guest speaker. The rest of the week depends on how much you time you want to put into it. IC provides you with a robust online platform filled with guided content that you can explore, as well as a workbook that you are given at the beginning of the Fellowship, filled with reflection topics and useful tools surrounding purpose and impact. Personally, I put in 1–2 hours a week to work through and reflect on the content we were given access to. I then made a concerted effort to attend the weekly community gatherings because I was deeply interested in hearing others’ experiences and impressions of the independent assignments for that week.

I saw this Fellowship as a great opportunity to network with like-minded people who are living in various different areas across the country, work for a wide range of companies and attend a variety of distinct academic programs. I made a big initiative to get to know the people in my cohort, which was comprised of folks going through their MBAs. I come from a very traditional MBA program, so a lot of the conversations I had with individuals were very different from conversations I had ever had before. It was incredibly interesting to hear other people’s perspectives and gather insights and tips from them. For instance, during one of our cohort discussions someone recommended a book called Design Your Life, which I ended up purchasing after the meeting.

Being able to interact with such a wide range of diverse individuals and bounce ideas off of each other helped me reflect more deeply on my purpose and the impact I’m looking to have in the world.

Throughout the Fellowship, I was continuously prompted to reflect on my historical impact. I wanted to understand where my impact had been in my life so far and why that was the case. I became more conscious of the fact that for the past few years my impact had been mainly focused on building inclusive communities.

Once I was able to clarify my impact, I was then able to reflect on the ways in which I wanted to further align my impact with my purpose in my future career.

I plan on working in the tech industry after completing my MBA, which is an industry that definitely needs more work on the inclusion front. In order to build more inclusive communities, I plan on making an intentional effort to have an impact on my team, but also within the company as a whole in terms of employee research, employee resource groups and actively advocating for people from underserved communities.

The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis have exposed many of the problems we as humans face, and how we haven’t yet found a way to live sustainably, in terms of business, our healthcare system, and the environment among others. For this reason, now is the perfect time to go through this Fellowship.

One of the key things I took away from the Fellowship in terms of how to apply what I learned to the New Way of working and living is to prioritize taking care of yourself and being your authentic self, so that you can show up better for other people.

One of the speakers who led a seminar during the Fellowship talked about how showing up is sometimes enough to make an impact. As a part of the Millennial and Gen Z generations, I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to contribute to the New Way of working by filling in the current gaps in our society through innovation.

My favorite memory of the fellowship was Nell’s meditations before every speaker series or discussion session. Her voice is absolutely magical and every meditation she led was different. People had always told me to try meditating because of its positive effects, but I had never really felt the impacts before. However, Nell’s meditations really helped me feel grounded and present in our conversations. Everyone in the Fellowship had busy schedules, so it was a nice moment to just breathe, pause, and take a moment to take care of ourselves before engaging in discussions. I ended up making meditating one of my purposeful habits.

I know that a lot of us feel incredibly busy right now, and I admit I was busy when I went through the Fellowship as well, but I still felt like I got so much out of it. I encourage anyone to join a professional development opportunity like the PGF, even if you think you don’t or won’t have the time. The community is very supportive and willing to give you whatever you are willing to put in. I think it is important and beneficial to take some time, even if it is one hour a week, to reflect and think about yourself and your purpose instead of working on your finance homework. Overall, it was an awesome experience, and I was able to truly clarify my purpose, which I am very happy about given I am in the last year of my MBA and looking to make a career transition.

IC is a NYC-based B-Corp building healthier, fairer, more inclusive, equitable, just, and regenerative teams and organizations, one T&D Fellowship at a time.