Exploring Career Opportunities: OCS and Social Innovation & Investment Alliance Panel

On September 26, 2023, the NYU Wagner Office of Career Services (OCS) and the Social Innovation and Investment Alliance (SIIA) hosted a Careers in Social Impact, Innovation, and Investment (SI3) career panel, highlighting some of the work professionals are doing in the social impact, innovation, and investment field. Moderated by Director of the SI3 Specialization, Andrea Armeni, the panel featured:

  • Olivia Thompson, Portfolio for Impact and Innovation Associate Director, U.S. International Development Finance Corporation
  • Dannialles Ben-Dominguez, Strategist, Capital One
  • Harmonie Coleman, Senior Community Engagement Manager, IDEO.org

The panelists shared insights on the interdisciplinary nature of the impact, innovation, and investment industry and the key skills they have developed to support their careers. 

How to Find Your Space in the Field as an MPA

In a broad industry such as social impact, innovation, and investment, there are a multitude of avenues through which students may expand their knowledge and professional expertise. While the industry is overwhelmingly saturated with MBA graduates, Olivia Thompson stressed how critical an MPA degree is in this space, sharing that the credential offers an advantage in understanding the ecosystem as a whole and how all actors within the system work together. Dannialles Ben-Dominguez echoed this sentiment by suggesting that a major asset of the MPA degree, and SI3 specialization in particular, is the ability to see and address problems through a social issues lens while still being able to communicate using business language and frameworks. In a similar vein, Harmonie Coleman noted that the balance between innovation and purpose is key – ensuring ideas are fresh while keeping in mind the people those ideas aim to serve.

Top 5 Skills You’ll Need for Social Impact, Innovation & Investment

Reflecting on their paths to where they are now, the panelists agreed on five essential skills students should develop to succeed in the social impact, innovation, and investment space: finance, writing, client relations, project management, and facilitation. For students considering which classes would be most beneficial to their careers, the panelists particularly emphasized quantitative courses, such as Corporate Finance, Financial Modeling, and Finance and Social Justice, as well as getting involved with the NYU Impact Investing Fund. Beyond these skills and courses, they recommended using books, podcasts, digital media, and informational interviews to gain knowledge and keep up with the rapidly growing landscape of the industry. Networking is also crucial, as professionals in this industry are generous with their expertise. However, Harmonie Coleman urged students to be mindful and purposeful with their networking – to make connections based on genuine intention. 

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