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For-Profit Lessons For My For-Purpose Role

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Lauren Weinstein was recently hired as a Program Officer for the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation to be a part of a team that focuses on recruiting, training and retaining leaders. Her primary job will be to help recruit and place talent within the Jewish sector by managing a database of jobs in CareerHub. She will also be helping to support partner organizations as they build out their talent pipelines.

Prior to Schusterman, Lauren spent seven years working for Accenture, a management consulting firm.

You might think that the profit-driven corporate world of management consulting would have little in common with the nonprofit Jewish sector. But as I make the unorthodox transition between the two, I have a strong suspicion that many of the lessons I learned at Accenture will guide me in my new role. Here are just a few:

Take Good People on Any Terms

When I joined Accenture nearly 10 years ago, I attended a community meeting in Philadelphia where the former CEO, Bill Green, shared a message: “We take good people on any terms.” He was referring to the idea that a company should invest in smart people who don’t necessarily have the relevant experience. Not everyone starts as an expert; it takes time to learn and it’s okay to learn on the job. As long as you are smart and motivated, you can do the job. Since then, I’ve taken Bill Green's message and made it my own. I am excited to be part of Schusterman's efforts to help build a strong talent pool within the Jewish ecosystem, regardless of where an individual has worked before.

Strike a Balance between Participant and Observer

When I lived at a girl scout camp in Mexico (as part of a project reviewing the operations of the World Association of Girl Guides & Girl Scouts), I was representing Accenture and I was observing how the staff and employees led their programs. I was expected to report on what I could see as improvements in the way the girl scout camp was run. I had to abide by the somewhat stringent dress code and rules (e.g. signing in and out of the camp) and there was a fine balance between being an outside observer and immersing myself into the culture (by taking part in programs and sing-a-longs). Similarly, at Schusterman, I anticipate that just as consultants serve their clients by knowing their work culture and environment, I will be acting as a champion for multiple grantees, getting to know them intimately enough to be able to match them with the individuals most suited for supporting their missions.

Deliver the Outcomes

Accenture is made up of incredibly diverse sets of teams, all serving different clients in a variety of ways. I learned that each project team and client had its own way of operating; its unique systems, processes, culture and approach to doing business. At the same time, no matter what team I joined, I found my place as an analyst, as a consultant or, later, as a manager. What I learned over the years is that even though teams or clients may vary in culture, all have a core commitment to effective leadership structures, quality deliverables and constant accountability. In my new role at Schusterman, I am excited to find my place in another new culture, form relationships with new partners and work to support the vision of the Foundation.

Maintain a Coaching Mindset

During my time at Accenture, I realized how important it was to take the time to mentor and help other people navigate their careers; their successes were my success. I spoke at International Women’s Day events; I wrote articles in company newsletters and I made the time to connect with anyone inside and outside of the company who was interested in corporate social responsibility and international development, two hot topic areas I know a lot about. I met many people who struggled to define their career path and identify their strengths/passions/interests. Some were skill building at Accenture but didn’t quite fit with the culture. Others were looking to re-position themselves or seek a promotion in the organization. These same themes apply to Schusterman's young adult network, many of whom are actively seeking meaningful careers. While I have stepped out of the for-profit world, I know that the lessons I learned there will carry over to the for-purpose world. I am really happy that I get to continue helping people take crucial next steps in order to advance themselves and their careers. 

Meet Lauren!