Our Fellow’s Purposeful Growth Journey During a Summer with Inspiring Capital
Written By: Camila Magendzo
The Inspiring Capital MBA Impact Fellowship is a professional development opportunity that provides knowledge, tools, and community for MBAs committed to using their business education as a force for good seeking to grow purposefully into a high-impact professional. Topics covered include latest thinking and practice in social and environmental impact, as well as the skills and personal development tools required to navigate a successful purpose-driven career. The program is fully virtual, designed to complement any summer internship, regardless of location, industry, or project assignment.
Today we are interviewing Matt Milner, a 2020 Inspiring Capital Impact Fellowship alumni. He walks us through his summer with Inspiring Capital, how he grew purposefully and the tools he gained throughout the Fellowship that made him rethink the multiple ways in which he can generate impact.
Tell us about yourself! What is your name, university and program that you attended, your IC Impact Fellowship year and your professional career?
My name is Matt Milner. I’m currently pursuing my MBA and Masters in Education at Stanford University. I am in my second year of grad school, and I was an IC MBA Fellow this past summer 2020 when I was simultaneously working at the Gates Foundation as a Summer Associate.
What was your background before the IC MBA Impact Fellowship? What led you to pursue this Fellowship opportunity?
Before returning to school, I worked in management consulting for a number of years in Australia and then in Europe. Both my parents are teachers, so I have always been very interested in the education space. After my time in management consulting I pivoted and ended up working in early childhood education in Australia. While I was there, I realized it was something that I’m really passionate about. I applied to graduate school because I wanted to learn skills around education, social impact, design thinking and leadership.
When I was looking for a summer internship, I wanted an opportunity that would allow me to continue to build a number of those skills, and help me work out where I wanted to fit in within the social impact sector. I came across the IC Fellowship when Nell (Founder and CEO of Inspiring Capital) came to speak to us a Stanford. I was really struck by her passion and the way she thought about impact over a broad spectrum. I was excited to meet other people who are also passionate about working in this space. It was a great summer and I’m very glad that I did it.
Inspiring Capital defines purposeful growth as “growth that helps you understanding how you are uniquely positioned to contribute to a fairer, healthier, more sustainable way of working and living,” how do you feel like you grew purposefully this summer?
The biggest thing I took out of the Inspiring Capital Fellowship was this focus on personal growth. I now understand the importance of putting yourself first and having things sorted out on a personal level, in order to be able to have the biggest impact on others around you and on the world.
This Fellowship was really about digging into what gives me energy, what I want to do and how I can show up as my best self at work.
Focusing on myself first was something that in the past I wasn’t very good at doing. A number of the activities we did throughout the Fellowship helped me dig into why this might not have been the case in the past, and how to try and focus on this in the future. I’m definitely still on a learning journey there, but that is kind of the point!
Referring to IC’s My Why Dashboard, how did that way in which you mapped your personal impact change after going through the Fellowship?
I don’t think I necessarily changed where I was situated on IC’s My Why Dashboard, but I did gain a new way of thinking about my impact. Coming into the Fellowship, I put a lot of emphasis on the job aspect of my impact. I had an idea of the job that I wanted to have in the future and the impact that it would drive. However, until I achieved that ideal role, I didn’t feel like I was having any impact because everything I was doing was about driving towards that.
I left the Fellowship with a broader understanding of the current assets and resources I had available to create impact in the present moment. This could be the job or employer you choose, the time you decide to spend volunteering or the way in which you choose to spend your money. I left with a set of tools to think about my purpose and the impact I wanted to have, and how to achieve this even if in the short-term I wasn’t working in my ideal role.
While I continue to work towards this job I have in mind, there are still a lot of other impactful things I can do. My thinking also changed regarding my focus on family and friends along the bottom of the dashboard, and how this can also be an important part of the impact that you’re having. You can have a lot of impact on your community, your friends, family and the people you are mentoring at work. This is all part of your broader impact journey.
I ended up leaving the Fellowship with an awareness of the multiple different ways in which we can generate impact and a really useful framework like the My Why Dashboard.
How did your IC Fellowship experience further your professional development? What were your key learnings and takeaways from the Fellowship that you will take with you along your Purposeful Growth Journey and onto your purposeful career path?
One of my key takeaways was around understanding what gives me energy and how I can bring my whole self to work. By understanding this, I can help a broader range of people and do better work. However, this starts with a focus on mental wellness and health, which can many times fall off my priority list when I get busy.
Throughout the Fellowship we also did a number of personality tests and exercises to understand our tendencies and what drives us, personally. It was really eye-opening to self-reflect in this way and to understand what I had to work on, or what strengths I should be capitalizing on.
I also learned so much from my cohort and the IC team. The Inspiring Capital team was amazing, they really put a lot of effort into the Fellowship especially when it came to adapting it to a remote format and dealing with challenges COVID-19 imposed. It was great to spend time with all of the other fellows throughout the summer. Having a group of incredible human beings who were willing to lean in and support each other, and who were passionate about the topics we were discussing was awesome.
It was also great to learn so much about social impact more broadly. We dug into the UN Sustainable Development Goals, learned about Donut Economics and delved into multiple articles and podcasts throughout the summer. It was overall a super powerful summer, especially in a crazy year like this one.
Regarding purposeful growth and professional development, what you would tell an MBA interested in the IC MBA Impact Fellowship?
It was an incredible Fellowship and an amazing opportunity to learn about the social impact sector, focus on yourself, and to meet other passionate people.
In my MBA and my internship with the Gates Foundation, there is more of a focus on professional career development, but this fellowship really gave me the opportunity to focus on my personal development. I grappled with questions like: “Who do I want to be as a person? What are my values? What drives me?” It really changed the way I now think about a number of things. It was an amazing opportunity that I would highly recommend.
The IC team really takes the time to meet you where you are and supports you throughout the whole summer. I remember having a few calls with Nell and Sarah throughout the summer just to catch up. It is a big time commitment, so you do have to be cognizant of this when you’re thinking of building your summer, but I would highly recommend you take this opportunity.
Inspiring Capital is a NYC-based B Corp that offers learning and development services for professionals and organizations. Inspiring Capital’s mission is to guide people to meaningful lives. IC exists to give others the permission, invitations, tools, guidance, inspiration, and accountability that we all want and need to grow purposefully toward our wholehearted potential. So that, together, we can build healthier, fairer, more inclusive, equitable, just, and regenerative teams, organizations, societies, and economies.
Learn more about Inspiring Capital here.
Learn more about Inspiring Capital Impact Fellowship here.
Interested applying for the Inspiring Capital Impact Fellowship? Click here!
Watch an Informational Webinar on YouTube to learn more about Summer 2021 IC MBA Impact Fellowship details, logistics and program adjustments here.