I started my career as a jet engine designer – truly a rocket scientist! The GSB, as Booth was known at the time, gave me the opportunity to transition from the declining aerospace industry and broaden my career opportunities. In the decades since Booth, I worked in fields ranging from finance to tech startups, until an epiphany about the lack of diversity in tech led me to a career change to focus on broadening STEM (Science, technology, Engineering, Math) opportunities for girls and underrepresented groups. Most recently, I started a social enterprise SimplyMasala.com which will donate 100% of profits to STEM causes.
Over the past few years, I have shared my breadth of experience through mentoring both individuals, especially women, as a board member for STEM organizations and as an advisor to startups. I was excited to join BANC as I knew that the caliber of the team would be outstanding and would provide both an insightful and an intellectually stimulating experience. And, indeed it was exactly that. The team, interestingly, was largely comprised of several female engineers, who all brought their deep commitment to change the STEM equity landscape. In addition, I brought my several years of experience working in and with STEM educational programs.
Our project was to serve a Chicago STEM organization with their marketing strategy and communications plan as they tried to scale. We were able to provide solid insights into the market, their local competition, benchmarking against similar organizations across the US and customer voice on both direct service as well as the coop model. Importantly, our work suggested the need for a broader strategy reset beyond merely marketing and communications for the organization.
As we all know, non-profits are stretched very thin and are truly challenged to step back from their day- to-day mission work to focus on the broader strategy questions. While our work was well-received by the client, the BANC team was concerned about the ability of the organization to absorb and act upon our recommendations. Indeed, it was quite challenging to get engagement with the management team throughout the project despite their desire to do so, given their many priorities. I was happy to hear that the BANC Nonprofit Relations Committee is now putting a greater emphasis on management availability during the client selection process.
Despite these client challenges, the experience of working alongside Booth alumni, engaging intellectually and debating with the team was truly the highlight of the experience. I would definitely engage in future projects and recommend BANC as an avenue for skills-based volunteering, which is often more satisfying than many other volunteer opportunities.
In future, I hope that BANC expands beyond the Chicago area to locations with a concentration of alumni, such as New York. BANC programs can be a superb avenue to build a Booth community for alumni from varied backgrounds looking to have impact in the community.