Part 2:  How to Position Your Transferable Skills to Employers

Now that you’ve identified which skills you can apply in the impact sector (if you haven’t done this yet, refer to this article), it’s time to communicate them in a way that resonates with potential employers. Positioning corporate skills to appeal to employers in the purpose-driven sector requires a strategic approach that highlights relevant experiences and showcases a genuine commitment to creating positive change.

Show your understanding of the Sector

The first step is to understand what skills and qualities are in demand. Some universal skills, such as project management, communication, leadership, strategic planning, financial acuity, business development, fundraising, budgeting, and evaluation, are highly valued. Deeply understand the job descriptions and organisational culture of your prospective employers. Research the specific social or environmental issues the impact organisation prioritises. What are the pressing challenges they aim to address? Familiarise yourself with their mission, values, and projects to gain insights into their focus areas.

Where you can, use impact-driven language. Familiarise yourself with the terminology and language of the sector. Relevant terms that show you’ve done your research can be seamlessly integrated into your communications to show that you speak their language.

Display Adaptability and Flexibility

Highlight instances where you demonstrated adaptability and agility in your corporate career. How are you prepared to embrace a different work environment in the impact sector? Showcase your willingness to learn and your openness to adopting new methodologies.

Emphasise instances where you’ve worked in unfamiliar environments or navigated change successfully. This will underscore your ability to adapt and thrive in new settings, a crucial trait in the dynamic world of social impact.

Highlight Relevant Experiences

Customise your CV and cover letters by highlighting projects or roles that have direct relevance to the position you’re applying for. If you’ve managed a sustainability project in your corporate role or volunteered for a community program, these experiences should be front and centre.

Highlight your transferable skills prominently on your resume. Tailor your resume for each application to align with the job description and use a skills-based resume format to emphasise your skills over job titles. For each role in your career history, highlight key responsibilities and achievements that demonstrate these skills. 

Be sure to use keywords that align with the social sector and elaborate on the transferable skills from your corporate background that align with the potential role’s needs. How can your strategic planning, financial management, investment management, marketing, data analysis, project management, and team leadership skills (for example) contribute to the organisation’s objectives?

Demonstrate Quantifiable Impact

The impact sector values tangible outcomes. Wherever possible, use numbers and metrics to show how your involvement led to positive changes in previous roles. Did you improve efficiency, raise funds, support more businesses through investment,or expand a program’s reach? Quantify these achievements.

Elaborate on your involvement in corporate social responsibility or impact initiatives. Detail the outcome of your contributions to CSR or sustainability projects and how they align with the social or environmental mission of the organisation you are interested in. Share stories of inspiring others to create a positive impact and showcase your ability to lead change effectively. 

Show Genuine Commitment

Consider joining courses, attending webinars, or even volunteering or becoming a Trustee to gain more sector-specific knowledge. By mentioning that you have participated or become intrinsically involved in these types of activities, it shows that your transition isn’t a whim but a well-thought-out career move.

Network thoughtfully by engaging with professionals in the sector, joining relevant forums, and attending events and conferences. Ask questions, seek mentorship, and actively listen. Building authentic relationships will not only enhance your knowledge but may open doors to potential opportunities.

Practice Your  Pitch

Creating an elevator pitch isn’t just about summarising your professional journey; it’s about connecting the dots between your corporate experience and your aspirations in the purpose-driven sector. Given the limited time you often have in networking situations, a well-crafted elevator pitch is a tool to present yourself effectively and leave a lasting impression. 

  • Begin with a Strong Opening: Start your pitch by sharing a compelling statement about who you are and what drives you. This could be tied to a personal story, a specific experience, or a realisation that prompted your interest in the social sector.
  • Highlight Key Transferable Skills: Quickly mention two or three skills you’ve honed in the corporate world that would be invaluable in the impact sector. Focus on those that are universally recognised and relevant.
  • State Your Objective Clearly: Be concise about what you’re looking for, whether it’s insights, advice, a specific job role, or partnership opportunities. Tailor this depending on your audience.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice: Once you’ve crafted your pitch, practice it repeatedly. Say it aloud to yourself, practice with friends or mentors, or even record yourself. The more you practice, the more natural it will sound.
  • Adapt and Tailor: No two interactions are the same. Learn to adjust your pitch based on who you’re talking to. If you’re speaking with someone deeply entrenched in grassroots initiatives, you might emphasise your adaptability and desire to learn from the ground up. If you’re speaking with a leader, you might stress your strategic skills and the broader value you bring.
  • Collect Feedback and Refine: As you put your pitch to the test in real-world situations, gather feedback. This might come directly from asking trusted contacts for their impressions or indirectly from gauging the reactions of those you’re speaking to. Use this feedback to refine and perfect your pitch over time.

Remember, your elevator pitch is not a static tool. It should evolve as you gather more insights, experience, and clarity about your goals in the purpose-driven sector. The goal is to be authentic, relatable, and memorable, demonstrating both your unique value and your genuine commitment to social impact.

Be Passionate and Authentic

Above all else, the fact that you are willing to make this significant change tells employers everything they need to know. Go back to the “why” you uncovered (refer to this piece for more information). Express your passion for the impact sector genuinely and authentically. Showcase your dedication to making a difference beyond corporate objectives by emphasising your commitment to social and environmental causes.

If you’re the kind of person who benefits from a bit of structure and accountability, we’ve created a rubric to guide you through a career transition. If you fill it out by yourself, it might take some acute honesty and self-awareness. You could also do a mock interview with a colleague, friend or mentor.

Hopefully, the areas that need more work will become clear, and you can work on building them. Revisit this rubric every few weeks as you navigate your career transition and track how your knowledge and expertise develop.


Part 1:  Identifying your transferable skills

If you haven’t already, read our blog piece about moving from corporate to social impact for an overview of the steps you can take to embark on a career transition. The below article goes into more depth about the specific hard and soft skills you may have gained in the corporate sector that can be leveraged in any industry.

The idea of changing industries completely can be daunting, from retraining and researching to connecting with new networks. But while there is certainly unlearning and relearning involved in transferring from the corporate to the purpose-driven sector, a great deal can be brought with you, including skills that you might not even realise are relevant and universal.

First, find your why

When you start to consider making a move, don’t underestimate the importance of simply asking yourself why.

Uncovering your purpose begins with understanding your own values and passions. Reflect on your personal and professional journey. Ask yourself what drives you, what brings you a sense of fulfilment, and what impact you wish to create in the world. Consider the issues, causes, or challenges that resonate deeply with you. Are you passionate about supporting communities, environmental sustainability, social justice, education, or healthcare? Here are some prompts that might help you further interrogate why you want to transition to the impact sector:

  • What are the values that guide my decisions and actions?
  • What aspects of my current role bring me the most fulfilment and align with my values?
  • What experiences or achievements have given me the greatest sense of purpose and satisfaction?
  • What are the non-monetary rewards that matter most to me in my career?

Appraising your skill set

Project Management

Corporate professionals often have extensive experience in managing complex projects, setting goals, and ensuring timely completion. In the social sector, these skills can be applied to coordinate initiatives, implement programs, and drive social change. Leverage your project management skills to streamline processes, create effective timelines, and monitor progress towards social impact goals. Consider these questions when conducting further research:

  • What are the key differences between project management in the corporate and impact sectors, and how can I integrate them? Think about the nuances of project management in the impact sector, such as collaborative decision-making, measuring social impact, and managing community engagement.
  • How will my existing stakeholder management skills have to adapt when working with different stakeholders and communities? Consider how you can leverage your interpersonal skills to collaborate effectively with stakeholders from various backgrounds, including service users, local communities, and non-profit organisations.

Portfolio management

Your corporate background can be an asset in evaluating the financial viability and scalability of impact projects. Apply your experience in financial analysis, risk assessment, and strategic planning to assess potential investments or grants. Some skills to adapt from corporate to social investing include:

  • Effective communication. You’ll need to communicate the social and environmental impact of your investments or grants to stakeholders, investors, and service users.
  • Emphasising long-term value. Impact finance often focuses on long-term value creation. Be patient and understand that social and environmental impact might take time to materialise fully. Avoid prioritising short-term gains over sustainable impact.
  • Conducting rigorous due diligence. You’ll need to incorporate a comprehensive due diligence process that evaluates both financial viability and impact potential. Assess the social and environmental risks and opportunities associated with each investment or grant opportunity.

Some questions to ask yourself while transitioning:

  • Do I understand the necessary impact metrics? In impact finance, traditional financial metrics are not enough; you need to understand and integrate impact metrics. Familiarise yourself with frameworks like the Impact Management Project (IMP) and the United Nations’ SDGs to measure and assess the social and environmental impact of investments and grants. Implement robust monitoring and evaluation processes to track the impact of investments and grants over time. Use the data collected to make informed decisions, optimise portfolios, and demonstrate the social and environmental outcomes achieved.
  • Am I prepared to align investments with values? As you manage portfolios or make investment decisions, ensure that they align with the social and environmental values of your organisation or the impact finance firm. Be clear about your impact objectives and the types of projects or ventures you want to support.
  • How can I build diversified impact portfolios? Diversification is essential in impact investing. Create portfolios that encompass a range of sectors and geographies to maximise positive outcomes and manage risk effectively.

Strategic Planning

Strategic thinking is valuable in any sector. Apply your expertise in strategic planning to the social sector by identifying long-term goals, formulating actionable strategies, and evaluating the impact of initiatives. Leverage your ability to think critically, analyse data, and make informed decisions to create sustainable social solutions. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are there existing best practices in the impact sector? Research successful strategic planning practices in the impact-driven space. Learn from case studies and success stories to apply relevant best practices to your own initiatives.
  • What impact metrics are relevant and meaningful? Evaluate the key performance indicators (KPIs) commonly used in the impact sector. Familiarise yourself with metrics that measure social and environmental outcomes to align your strategic planning with impact-driven goals.

Financial Acumen

Financial management skills acquired in the corporate sector can be leveraged to drive financial sustainability and accountability in the social sector. Apply your knowledge of budgeting, forecasting, and financial analysis to ensure efficient resource allocation, manage donor funding, support social investment processes and develop financial sustainability strategies for social impact organisations.

  • What are the key differences in financial models and reporting in the impact sector? You might want to familiarise yourself with the financial models and reporting practices specific to the impact sector. Understand the nuances of funding sources, organisational structure, donor or investor requirements, and social impact metrics.
  • Are there specific risks and compliance considerations in the impact sector I need to know about? Identify potential financial risks and compliance challenges unique to the social sector. Develop strategies to mitigate risks while maintaining financial transparency and accountability.
  • What financial tools and software are commonly used in the impact sector? What financial tools and software are commonly used in the impact sector for budgeting, financial analysis, and impact measurement? Consider acquiring new skills as needed.

Leadership and Team Management

Effective leadership is essential in the social sector. Draw upon your experience in leading teams, motivating individuals, and fostering collaboration to drive social change. Leverage your leadership skills to build diverse and inclusive teams, inspire others, and empower stakeholders to work towards a shared vision. Here are some prompts:

  • What leadership styles and approaches are most effective in the impact sector? Explore different leadership styles and approaches that align with the values and culture of the impact sector. Consider the importance of participative and stewardship leadership in driving social change.
  • How can I inspire and align teams around the organisation’s social mission? Determine how to inspire and align teams around the organisation’s social mission and impact goals. Communicate the larger purpose to foster a sense of shared purpose and commitment.
  • How can I build and nurture diverse and inclusive teams? Lived experience is essential in the impact sector. Assess how to build and nurture diverse and inclusive teams that represent a variety of perspectives and backgrounds. Emphasise the importance of diversity and inclusion in achieving social impact. Reflect on ethical considerations unique to the impact sector, such as addressing power imbalances, ethical fundraising, and responsible data management.

Communication and Stakeholder Engagement

Strong communication skills are vital for creating impact in the social sector. Use your expertise in clear and persuasive communication to engage diverse stakeholders, convey the mission and impact of your organisation, and mobilise support. Leverage your networking abilities to build relationships, foster partnerships, and advocate for social change.

  • Who are the key stakeholders in the impact sector, and how do their needs differ? Identify the key stakeholders in the impact sector, such as beneficiaries, donors, investors, volunteers, government agencies, and community members. Understand their unique needs and perspectives to tailor your communication approach.
  • Am I equipped to navigate sensitive or controversial topics with diplomacy? Assess your ability to handle sensitive or controversial topics with diplomacy and tact. Recognise the importance of ethical communication in the impact sector. Reflect on your cultural competency and ability to engage with diverse communities respectfully. Be open to learning about different cultures and perspectives.

Problem Solving and Analytical Thinking

Problem-solving skills honed in the corporate sector can be applied to address complex social challenges. Leverage your analytical thinking to understand root causes, design evidence-based interventions, and measure the effectiveness of social programs. Apply your problem-solving skills to develop innovative solutions that drive positive change.

  • How can I apply data analysis to understand root causes and identify patterns? Explore how you can apply data analysis to understand the root causes of social issues and identify patterns that inform evidence-based interventions. You may need to advocate for evidence-based solutions and data-driven decision-making within the impact sector to ensure the most effective use of resources.
  • How can I adapt my problem-solving techniques to address the complexity of social issues? Consider how you can adapt your problem-solving techniques to address the complexity of social issues, which may require innovative and multi-faceted approaches.
  • How can I leverage design thinking or human-centred design principles for social solutions? Explore how you can leverage design thinking or human-centred design principles to develop solutions that prioritise the needs and experiences of service users. Consider the ethical implications of problem-solving in the impact sector and ensure that solutions prioritise the well-being of affected communities.

Adaptability and Resilience

The corporate sector often requires adaptability and resilience in the face of changing environments. Leverage these qualities in the social sector, where you may encounter diverse and evolving challenges. Adapt to new contexts, embrace a growth mindset, and remain resilient in the pursuit of social impact.

  • Am I prepared to embrace ambiguity and navigate uncertain social environments? Assess your readiness to embrace ambiguity and navigate uncertain social environments, as the impact sector may present unique and evolving challenges.
  • Do I have a growth mindset that allows me to continuously learn and develop? Evaluate your growth mindset, emphasising a willingness to continuously learn and develop new skills to thrive in the impact sector.
  • Am I prepared to collaborate and learn from grassroots organisations and community members? Assess your readiness to collaborate and learn from grassroots organisations and community members, valuing their expertise and insights.
  • What strategies can I use to manage and navigate stressful situations in high-impact environments? Identify strategies to manage and navigate stressful situations in high-impact environments, ensuring your resilience remains strong.


These are just a few skills you might have that you can leverage in the social sector. If you want to dig a little deeper and tailor some more research to your needs, use the framework we’ve created below (with examples).

Note what you consider your most valuable skills, and when you’re ready to start networking with others who work in the impact sector, ask them how they apply these skills to their roles. Having some more context around how your strongest talents can be utilised will equip you with the confidence and knowledge to transition sectors.




A career transition can be an intense and challenging process, but we are here to help!

Contact us on Twitter, LinkedIn or at

Have you ever found yourself in a team meeting, wholly disconnected from the company culture? Ever expected more from a company’s benefits plan? 

You may have been offered exciting new opportunities, great compensation, and promising career prospects. But what’s missing? Maybe the company’s workplace values just don’t align with yours.

As impact recruiters, we have noticed a shift in the zeitgeist, especially post-pandemic. Some people have been prompted to reassess their work and lives. For example, one in three US workers under 40 thought about changing their occupation since the pandemic began.

Jobseekers are moving away from companies or corporate cultures that don’t align with their values and turning towards the growing social impact sector. There are so many opportunities across countless industries for those seeking social impact jobs – from social investment to philanthropic leads at corporate firms – and the compromise on salary doesn’t have to cut so deep either. 

So, when do you know if your core values align with your career or if it is time to make a switch?

Weigh up your personal values 

The first thing is to think about when you were happiest in both your career and personal life: What were you doing? Were you rising up the ranks fast? Which people were you surrounded by? Were you working two jobs and volunteering at the same time? 

Also, look at the leaders you most admire in the industry where you currently work, or where you are considering moving to. What skills do they have? What strong values do they uphold?

Then, identify the times you were most proud of yourself. Was it when you got a new job, you made a significant impact on someone’s life, or you got a degree? Why did you feel proud? 

Then, narrow down your values. What inspires you to get out of bed every morning? If you identify with philanthropy, community, and generosity, it looks like service to others is one of your top values. Or you may appreciate independence, accountability, and discipline, and seek out a role such as Head of Finance, which allows you to explore these values further. And if you could satisfy only one value, which job would you be in? 

This is what we would call discovering your passion.

The career with purpose graphic for impact recruitment 

Ikigai (ee-key-guy) is a Japanese concept that means “reason for being.” Iki in Japanese means ‘life,’ and ‘gai’ describes value or worth. Your ikigai is your life purpose or meaning, combining passion, vocation, profession, and mission.

At Careers4Change, we believe you can be happy in a career long-term where passion, skills, and meaningful impact intersect. You must identify your key drivers before pursuing a career in the social impact sector.


What skills are you craving to use and develop? What do or did you enjoy about your current or previous role? Are your skills more suited for a startup, large organization, or SME? 

The social sector is currently on the lookout for those with investment management, fund accounting, risk management, or financial reporting experience. Therefore, if you’ve decided your passion lies in serving others, but you have 20 years of experience in banking, you could be suitable for social investment leadership positions

Many are choosing to take their corporate learning to the social sector to leverage their skills in another way that satisfies all three parts of the career with a purpose pie chart.

Meaningful impact

We are seeing a wave of people move from the corporate sector because their personal values do not align with their day job. To find your meaningful impact, look towards the Sustainable Development Goals

Think about your volunteering experience, humanitarian work, or philanthropic projects that caught your attention. Candidates from the commercial sector that get jobs that align with their passion have often done volunteering in their target areas or been trustees. 

All your responsibilities, whether personal or job-related, may mean you don’t have a second to sit down and define your values or work out what you want from your career. But we promise, as you have your morning coffee or sit on the train to work, it is worth taking even five minutes to think through the questions in this blog. You might never look back.

While nonprofit organisations, NGOs, and philanthropic institutions might be the immediate image that comes to mind when we talk about a social impact job, the possibilities of making a positive impact on people or planet are much more diverse these days. Working in impact recruitment, we’ve witnessed social impact jobs span almost every industry and sector of the economy. So, let’s dive in. 

It depends on what impact means to you

It is easy to get overwhelmed by the buzzwords: impact investment, social enterprise, B corporation, corporate social responsibility, ESG, and the circular economy. They are helpful to understand and realise how many social impact job options there are, and you’ll find many of these terms broken down on sites like Good Finance, which provide jargon buster glossaries. 

But at the end of the day, everyone’s idea of a social impact career is different because we all have varied interests and priorities. Think about your previous volunteering experience, humanitarian work, or philanthropic projects – they’ll be different from the person sitting next to you. 

Simply put, if you are engaged in a social impact job, you will probably be working in an organisation with a mandate to deliver on one or several of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – no poverty, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, clean water – to positively impact society, spur social change, or create transformative benefits for communities or the environment.

Social motivation is crucial. Candidates in the social sector are assessed not only on the basis of their technical skillsets but also their natural intrinsic values.

The range of social impact jobs

The purpose-driven field is thriving: from frontline community jobs to impact investment to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) roles in mainstream investment firms. 

At Careers4Change, we have placed motivated changemakers into independent charitable trusts, think tanks for the UK social sector, and social investors, among others. What all these organisations have in common is that they are looking for an individual with passion and purpose – and the required skillset for their chosen discipline.

There are also many opportunities for commercially minded individuals who want to make a positive difference in society. For example, you could be a credit risk manager with a lending or investment portfolio, looking to move to social finance to address systemic inequalities. 

Mid-range manager-level roles at £40-50k in communications or operations gain a lot of traction – we once received over 650 applications for an operations manager role. There’s also plenty of interest in executive-level positions at around £80k. 

So, if you are a more senior individual searching for a second career in financial management, communications, risk, or operations, you may be just the person we are looking for.

Where are these jobs advertised? 

You can start by following various leading organisations on Twitter and LinkedIn. Our candidates have recommended: Big Society Capital, Impact Investing Institute, LGT Impact Ventures, Acumen, Key Fund, the National Lottery, Power to Change, and Locality.

For investment roles, follow Women in Social Finance; for mid-level roles try Future Impact Finance; for advice about social impact careers, check out Servane Mouazan’s Conscious Innovation; for experiential learning opportunities, try On Purpose or Social Starters; for jobs boards, look at Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), Skoll Foundation, or BWork. 

  • To see the kind of organisations active in the social sector, try out our Careers4Change social impact quiz
  • Unsure whether this career move is something you’d be interested in? Check out our changemaker profiles where impact leaders share their career journeys.
  • Wondering how to break into the space? Check out our blog


Social Impact New Year Quiz

2021 saw the social economy flourish, with substantial investment growth despite the pandemic, new deals to bridge private, government, and public sectors, and COP26, among other milestones taking place. So, let's dive in. What happened in 2021 and how will this light the way in 2022?

Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change has started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Colleen Ebbitt

Colleen Ebbitt is a Vice President, Programme Officer for J.P. Morgan Global Philanthropy, EMEA. Colleen has 15 years of experience centred around corporate social responsibility, social impact investment, enterprise development, public policy, and banking. She’s passionate about improving lives and communities through innovative solutions to social challenges. Colleen is a regular contributor to thought leadership on social impact investing and inclusive growth at global conferences and volunteers regularly at MediCinema.

Why did you want to move to a social impact role?

Being in touch with my community is a very important part of my life; I have always been very socially aware and actively volunteering. My professional and purposeful life were very separate while working as a Vice President banker at J.P. Morgan. That was until J.P. Morgan, in partnership with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, launched a social impact investment fund (Global Health Investment Fund), in 2012, to invest in late-stage pharmaceuticals to get affordable medicine to low income countries. That was the first time I saw this merger of philanthropy and investment. That’s exactly where I wanted to be. It was the catalyst that made me explore the new emerging area of impact investment and social entrepreneurship.

How did you make your first move to mothers2mothers maternal HIV/AIDS charity based in South Africa?

I became a coach for social entrepreneurs with Ashoka which happened to be a J.P. Morgan philanthropy grantee in Switzerland. I really enjoyed it but they didn’t have volunteer opportunities for impact business or finance. That’s when I started looking at impact investment fellowship programmes. I spent a lot of time thinking: Is this going to be detrimental to my career progression? Should I make money and continue to volunteer instead? If it didn’t go well, I already had eight years in banking behind me. I felt more confident because of that. I decided to take the risk.

Fellowship programmes like those provided by Acumen or LGT Impact Ventures are targeted at people who already have work experience, not undergrads or recent graduates. Within LGT Impact Ventures’ portfolio of enterprises I found mothers2mothers, a maternal HIV/AIDS prevention organisation. I had already volunteered with them through a philanthropy group called Giving Women. I loved this organisation. Plus, it was based in Cape Town and I was really interested in looking at health in sub-Saharan Africa – a hot spot for impact investment at the time. When I applied for the fellowship programme, there was another opportunity available in Colombia. But it was such a nerve-wracking transition that I really got into this ‘all or nothing’ mindset. I wanted to work for mothers2mothers. It just felt right.

What was difficult about the move?

It was an eye-opening experience. When you are coming from a corporate environment, you are made to believe that that’s the most competitive area with the smartest people. The truth was that I quickly felt out of my depth surrounded by incredibly talented people in the social sector; with their immense experience, background, and knowledge. I had enthusiasm for this area and was bringing different skillsets from a banking background. However, in terms of truly understanding the nuances of really deep-rooted social issues, in a place with geopolitical risks and cultural barriers contributing to the problems surrounding HIV/AIDS, I had a lot to learn. There were some difficulties setting up the first emerging market social impact bond. I quickly realised that some of these impact investment structures are so unique and tailored to local markets that they are difficult to scale and extremely lengthy to set up.

How does a role in a social sector organisation differ from the corporate sector?

The stakes were so high emotionally while working in the social sector. Working with HIV/AIDS, it was difficult to witness not only the hardships that these individuals faced from stigma but the hardships of living in disadvantaged communities too. Everything from poverty and inaccessible education to violence against women. Being in the field brings unbelievable highs as you see how impactful the work is in improving lives and communities. I didn’t get that from my previous job in the corporate sector, it wasn’t as fulfilling.

You are now overseeing philanthropic grants supporting more inclusive economic growth back at J.P. Morgan. How has that role differed and why did you move?

After working with mothers2mothers, I knew I wanted to stay in impact investing. I ended up working with the U.K. Government’s Inclusive Economy Unit (GIEU) as a Senior Policy Advisor. GIEU was responsible for the U.K.’s social investment strategy. I was creating social investment funds and partnering with social, private, and government sectors to design solutions to tackle social challenges such as affordable housing or access to finance for social enterprises.

I wanted to bring to the corporate sector what I had learnt while working in public policy developing the skillset to lead a strategy – J.P. Morgan Global Philanthropy allowed me to continue to work on inclusive economic growth. I had the required experience to come back into the corporate philanthropy space; with my corporate background I knew the stakeholder aspects, I came with field experience, and I had important strategy and agenda setting skills to make philanthropy as impactful as possible.

It’s incredible to be a strategic partner for organisations and fund really impactful programmes. As a philanthropic funder, J.P. Morgan had to adapt with our grant partners during the pandemic so they could continue to change lives and create more inclusive economic opportunities. The lack of travel this year has been challenging – especially when you are doing strategic planning, due diligence, and overseeing philanthropy for South Africa, Switzerland, Sweden, Turkey, and France – travel is such an enriching part of my role. But it is a privilege to work on these issues every day.

What top tips would you give to someone thinking about a career transition?

  • Get some form of experiential learning – either board, community, or volunteering experience. You can sit and read about the social impact space but volunteering or a fellowship will really open your eyes to what it would be like if you made that switch. You won’t look back if it is something you are really passionate about. If it is the wrong move, no decision is forever. Don’t overthink it.
  • Think about your values. Oftentimes people might say: I couldn’t possibly move because of how different the earning potential is in the corporate vs social sector. If you are driven by money, that’s one thing, but if you are driven by community, making an impact, or travelling, you’ll reach a different conclusion.
  • Find role models. Personally, I’d look at Jacqueline Novogratz, the CEO of Acumen. I find her story about how she got into impact incredibly inspirational and she’s helping more leaders into that space.
  • Discover opportunities. Follow LGT Impact Ventures – their portfolio of organisations is top-notch and, if they do open their applications, they’ll be on your radar. Big Society Capital is a great career site, as is Escape the City, and of course, Careers4Change. It is limited with regards to how many head-hunters are out there in the social impact space – these organisations are really valuable.

Want to know more? You can follow Colleen on LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!

Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Chris Colwell

Chris worked in commercial banking for 10 years and decided to pursue a more rewarding role which aligned with his aspirations to support the third sector. His day-to-day role as an Investment Manager is to support both new and existing clients from the initial stages of investment, to assessing business plans and financial forecasts, to managing the ongoing client relationship while acting as the client’s main point of contact.

What inspired you to move to the social sector?

If I think about what I was doing day-to-day in my previous job, I wasn’t making a tangible difference. In my current role, I’m seeing the explicit changes I am making to disadvantaged communities and that’s very inspirational. I was already involved in local community projects but I wanted to make a bigger difference on a day-to-day basis. There’s something very rewarding about giving a grant to a community or project, and then seeing the end results: the number of jobs it creates, or how many local people it helps.

How did you make your first move?

I’d seen the opportunity on a LinkedIn advert. Originally, when I looked at the job description on a speculative basis, I felt underqualified regarding the charity and non-profit aspect, but I decided to apply. The lesson here is that we tend to put ourselves down and it’s easy to be put off by reading a job description by thinking that we don’t tick certain boxes. In reality, I was blinded to the fact that I had lots of relevant experience that would be valuable to Key Fund.

Sheena, the Founder of Careers4Change, got in touch with me.  She assured me that much of my experience did align nicely. For people moving from the corporate sector, the likelihood is that you don’t have experience in charities or non-profit organisations but, you will have other experience that would apply, and dynamic diverse teams are crucial. As corporate individuals, we are used to analysing business plans and accounts – a skill which we can bring to the social sector. You can leverage these skills for the next stage of your career.

When you made the move, what was really difficult?

On my first day, they gave me six files and said: where you were working previously, would you have been looking at any case studies or proposals like these? The answer was no.  It was a big move away from the practices and parameters I was used to while working at a bank. Looking at all the social elements takes some getting used to. When you are working at a bank you are looking at accounts and profits, in a social organisation you are looking at how certain investments will make a societal difference. It is something I had never had to consider before.

How do you think the social sector differs to the corporate sector?

The main difference is the type of colleagues and clients you are working alongside. They are hospitable, generous, and caring; people who don’t have money as a motivation, but want to make a real difference. Everyone who is working in this industry is concerned about seeing first-hand the changes they are making to society, and bringing their values to work. We have to ask ourselves: why are people working in the social sector? Why have they chosen that path instead of working in traditional business?

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

An important part of my role is seeing my clients and the projects in action ‘on the ground’, across a range of geographical locations, as I can truly see the impact they have on their communities. You feel more connected to the people you are working with and can see the impact for yourself.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

I can’t think of anything; it has been a really good move for me. Although, more recently, Covid-19 has had an impact. A big part of my role was being very mobile and spending three to four days visiting clients across a wide area, and we can’t do that anymore. Usually, we deliver the initial investment but we also have a relationship-based model so we work with the clients throughout the project, between five to ten years. I look forward to returning to visit my clients in the near future to see the direct impact our funding is having.

Do you have any top tips for anyone thinking about a career transition?

You can gain a lot from looking at social organisations’ websites and their case studies to get an idea of the sort of work they are involved in. Check out Key Fund, the National Lottery, Power to Change, Locality, and Careers4Change. Use LinkedIn frequently. You could follow some inspiring leaders such as the CEO of Key Fund, Matt Smith, who was just awarded a CBE.


Want to know more? You can follow Chris on LinkedIn and Twitter. Check out Key Fund.

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!


Women in the social sector should be celebrated for their achievements this year; from the WISE 100 women working in social enterprise and impact investing to those encouraging female entrepreneurship and playing vital roles in post-pandemic recovery. Gender lens investing is expected to continue its rapid growth, and from an economic perspective, it is becoming ever-more apparent that reducing gender gaps in labour force participation could substantially boost global GDP.

However, recruitment is still subject to bias and we want to highlight how important it is that employers recognise the cost of poor recruitment processes. Mikki Draggoo, Corporate Relations Director of the City & Guilds Group, while working on research with Business in the Community (BITC), said: “The gender gap exists even at the start of women’s careers.” This is of particular concern since the pressures of the pandemic have highlighted how disproportionately responsibilities at home fall on women, and many are even considering leaving the workforce altogether.

Social Sector Recruitment

Over the past several years recruiting in the social sector, the feedback from clients about female candidates has always highlighted their passion for the cause. Women generally think carefully about what particular meaningful impact they want to make, are driven by their vision, and very well prepared for interviews and tasks.

It is, however, mostly the more junior roles that attract more women and at mid management level (i.e. Operations Manager, Media Manager, or Programme Manager) there is a definite swathe of women coming through. However, as you reach Director level and above, there are far fewer women, particularly at CEO, CFO, or Board level.

This trend could be attributed to a significant number of male candidates having earned major salaries in the city previously, having the flexibility to move to the social sector, and taking the salary hit. This is less often the case for women, many of whom had jumped off the career ladder to have children and had returned to the workplace later with a lower salary expectation.

Also, women are still the primary caregivers so will not necessarily want to take on a senior job where they would have to balance major responsibilities at work and home. What many don’t realise is that social sector jobs can be more flexible than mainstream jobs, particularly since the pandemic – travel was often a barrier for those who had young children.

What else is holding women back?

There are many more factors at play. LinkedIn’s studies revealed that women are 16% less likely to apply for a job that they’ve viewed than a man.

This is because women seem much keener to tick all the boxes on a job description and hesitate to apply if they are missing a detail, which I have noticed is often not the case for men. The majority of the senior roles draw on multiple skillsets and women are very detailed in their approach, often trying to find out exactly what is essential and desirable for a role before applying.  Plus, in many first interviews I have noticed women point out the skills they don’t have, rather than focusing on what they do.

After finishing a recruitment process, half of young women who had bad experiences say it “knocked their confidence – but just a third of young men say the same”. A fifth of young women said this put them off a company entirely. A further 11% said it put them off an entire industry, meaning that valuable talent is being lost regularly.

These statistics show why women tend to go for fewer senior roles. Is it a lack of belief in themselves and their capability to deliver in a senior role? Is it a case of male leaders feeling intimidated by strong female empathetic leadership styles? Are women emulating men instead of adopting their own style? Or is there a lack of women at the top helping other women?

Additionally, the recruitment sector has less gender equality at the top. In March 2020, an analysis from recruitment and talent management PR and communications specialist, BlueSky PR, found that 26% of recruitment firm directors are female, highlighting a ‘severe’ gender imbalance.

Head of Practice at BlueSky PR, Vickie Collinge, said: “These are the individuals that should be guiding businesses in regards to diversity and inclusion and helping them attract from more diverse groups.” This is why Careers4Change is proud to be women-led, encouraging equity and diversity in all our recruitment practices.

So, how can companies encourage gender diversity when recruiting?  

Firstly, request a balanced candidate pool when the shortlist is delivered, make sure there are female interviewers on a panel so the decision making over candidates is not skewed, and allow candidates some flexibility on when the interviews will take place to account for other family or personal commitments.

And most importantly, have an inclusive job description:

  • Point out that applications from all genders are welcomed.
  • Think about the job title. Use terminology which encourages women to apply, not words that have “masculine” connotations. Software like Textio can help you highlight so called “gender-specific” words.
  • Avoid any negative language like “only apply if”.
  • Keep your paragraphs and sentences short and remove jargon.
  • Make the job description about the candidate, not solely about your company.
  • Underline the flexibility of the organisation towards working patterns. Flexible hours can make the role more attractive.
  • Include a salary. It is important to be transparent.

Alongside a myriad of challenges, 2020 will be remembered as the year of strong female leadership. From innovative impact investors to engaging social enterprise leaders, the social sector has greatly benefited from having women at the helm. While we take today to reflect on and celebrate female-driven leadership, let’s be wary of the work we have to do going forward. Remember that many women in the past have been unfairly overshadowed by their male counterparts. This needs to be addressed – starting with recruitment.

Pursue Your Purpose, Make Your Mark. 

Careers4Change has started this series of changemaker profiles to inspire and encourage those who are considering a career change to explore the options in the social impact sector and find their purpose.  We are keen to reinforce the message from social and impact investor leaders that impact entrepreneurs are at the forefront of rebuilding the economy post-pandemic and purpose-driven businesses are the future.

Naila Mir

Naila has 20 years of experience centred around sustainable business, corporate social responsibility, employee engagement, partnerships, and strategic communications. Her purpose in life is to make a difference to people’s lives, and support, empower and enable young leaders to reach their potential. Beyond her business life, she has contributed to mentorship programmes, advisory roles for sustainable projects, and connects like-minded, purposeful individuals around the world. This inspired her to create P3 Collective, a not-for-profit network geared towards helping young people achieve their purpose and collectively make a social impact.

What inspired you to change careers and move from Unilever?

I was with Unilever for more than 15 years, I joined when I was 25, in Pakistan. The objective of my career at Unilever was to get to a certain point where I could run my own business. My time there was up. I’d had a great journey and achieved everything I could, from running big campaigns across 100 countries to business partnering on communications and sustainability. I left Unilever to pursue my own purpose which coincidentally meant helping other people discover their purpose, assisting them on their journey, and helping companies become more like Unilever.

I was lucky to be at Unilever because that is where I started my sustainability journey. I realised that the three things that I loved doing when I was younger are what I ended up doing as an adult; being a business woman (my Dad always created businesses), teaching (I had an imaginary classroom), and helping people (I used to help a lady who was visually impaired). Those things have lived with me and I have always followed my heart, and what makes me happy.

What steps did you take to move sectors and grow your network?  Did you reach out to anyone in particular?

My ambition was to focus on making a business of my own – sorting a plan, structure, name, and the correct environment. However, I did a makeup course first, it was something I had always wanted to do and never had the time to. My plans for the future involve ethical makeup too. Afterwards, I started reaching out to my network, looking at hybrid business models, and searching for consultancy platforms that I would want to work with. Most of the projects I have worked on have come through networking. I believe strongly in building and maintaining relationships, networks, and collaboration.

What did you find really difficult about your career change?

It was the fear factor. What am I going to do?  What if I don’t get a job? What if I don’t get paid as much? I’d left Unilever without a job but, I knew I had enough to survive three to six months.  I had to shift my mindset to: I’m stable, I have three months’ salary, I have six sisters, so six houses, and if worst comes to worst, I’ll rent out my house, be a bartender, and wait on tables. It would pay my bills and I love meeting people. My mindset had to change. And it did. I knew I’d have six months to explore the opportunities that I couldn’t when I was working nine to five.

What differences are there between your previous job and your current job?

The biggest difference was my own change in mindset. The advice I give to students is: If you are going to be happy and follow your purpose, and be successful while doing that, you need to change the way you look at things. Tell yourself: I’m not going to fit myself into a job, I’m going to look for jobs, projects, and roles that fit into my purpose. This is my mantra. It means you are pursuing your own happiness and defining what success means to you. I didn’t make money my driving factor, I made purpose my driving factor and because of that, I get the jobs I want and get paid for the value I give.

What part of your role is the most rewarding?

When I know people are coming to me for my expertise and something that I love doing. That means I’ve created value. What excites me is when my projects get scaled or my idea is picked up and it goes global or company-wide. The current organisation I’m working with value my business partnering style and agile approach, and it’s great when it is adopted. I’m not interested in being a millionaire, I’m interested in executing great projects, creating an impact, and bringing others with me in the process.

What part of your role is most challenging?

I was the challenge. I had to build confidence in myself and my value. I had the experience, know-how, and portfolio of projects to prove the impact I’d made. I am confident in the right environment – put me in front of 1000 young leaders, or people who are purpose-driven, I can talk for days. With an older generation of senior leaders who think differently, I won’t express myself as well.

Also, we have the tendency to be envious of each other. We can go on LinkedIn and see a 20-year-old involved in an innovative project and think: Why am I not doing that? Why am I doing things slowly? Why am I not getting noticed? Remember, you are as great as anyone else but we need to learn to reach out and collaborate. Share your ideas. I stuck with my values and purpose, and I am now influencing others to collaborate, be better human beings, and respect inclusion and diversity.

What top tips would you give to someone thinking about a career transition? 

Discover your purpose and what makes you happy. Define your journey and idea of success. Then, look for a role that fits you. What do you want?  Be clearer about what is in it for you. Nobody can define your success but yourself. Purpose is not only about sustainability. You may be a graduate looking for a role that’s purpose driven but, you also have other pressures and expenses, so you want a job that pays well. There’s nothing wrong with that. Try and find projects that are going to be your success rather than just a company’s success. What is the company going to do for you?

I believe that everyone can be a Malala Yousafzai & Greta Thunberg. If empowered and guided, every individual has the potential to do good, make the world a better place, and make a positive impact in whatever they do, or wherever they work.

Want to know more? You can follow Naila on LinkedIn and Instagram. Check out P3 Collective

If you have a career transition story you would like to share, get in touch!

According to the Deloitte survey on 2021 Global Human Capital Trends, it is now necessary to make “a fundamental mindset shift: from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving.” From our learnings through this period, we must now build back better in 2021.

Many are hoping that 1 January 2021 will be drastically different to the unexpected challenges and losses which we tackled in 2020; a major health crisis, recession and a high unemployment rate. While the pandemic focussed people’s attention on social inequalities, it also triggered a shift in perspective and the need to develop resilient businesses and communities to tackle future challenges.

Firstly, the world of work in the social sector completely changed, not allowing for office camaraderie but, instead virtual meetings enabled more people to be part of the conversation. We listened to different perspectives and remote tools opened up access to disadvantaged populations. Organisations also started to consider proactive action to improve their talent pools, empower females in their workforces and introduce inclusive tech-based initiatives.


“Disruption. Unprecedented. Crisis. Sustain. Survival. Recovery. Growth. Transform. Adapt”

—– People Matters


At Careers4Change, we have weathered the storm, despite it being incredibly challenging, and look to 2021 with hope and anticipation of better days to come. We have found ourselves in a pivotal position to support change and facilitate social sector organisations during this time to be innovative and impactful in their endeavours through delivering resilient, motivated, agile talent.

More than ever, we have encouraged the transition of human capital across sectors. We are uniquely positioned to break down barriers between the sectors so that they can collaborate to achieve greater impact more rapidly; we assist commercial sector leaders and players to move into the social sector but also to transition from the social sector into corporates as intrapreneurs.

We have reviewed our purpose too, along with many companies during this pivotal year, realising that social impact investment is #nevermoreneeded and to focus our efforts on their recruiting processes. We are inspired by the interest that mainstream investment firms are showing in reshaping and transforming their investment agendas, paying particular attention to measuring the impact of their investment decisions, with impact-weighted metrics. Covid-19 has demanded these changes and we look forward to recruiting for these organisations that will lead the way to a new frontier for capitalism and society over the next decade.

We also have shared our mission and vision with other recruiters, during conversations about creating inclusive cultures within organisations and building diverse teams. We have attended talks hosted by BAME Recruitment, Charity So White and Diversity Forum, and joined the Black Young Professionals in their newsletter. By creating a space where people feel listened to, 40% of Careers4Changes’ candidates placed this year were from BAME backgrounds.

We encourage you, during this year’s Christmas period, to make time to have difficult conversations with family members – listen to their points of view and be willing to change yourself too. Encourage your family members to see that, by promoting equal access to opportunity regardless of background or previous experience, organisations have the potential to be more resilient, solutions-focussed and creative.

We have read and screened thousands of CVs this year, seen an enormous amount of talent and experience, and will continue to successfully place purpose-driven individuals, who have both a passion for social change and the necessary skillset, in organisations with a social mission at their core in 2021.

We wish you a safe, peaceful and restorative Christmas!