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How to use your master’s for social good

Do you dream of using your university learning to help change lives? Business master’s student Cristine Sousa explains one way it can be done

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Cristine Sousa

May 9 2019
university, studying,


Every day most of us will embark on the same routine: wake, go to work, hit the gym, have dinner, go to bed, sleep and repeat. Why not share your education with those who could truly benefit from them?

My journey started when I volunteered for New Generation Consulting (NGC), a pro bono student consulting group.

As a project manager for NGC based in Lisbon, Portugal, I worked with an amazing team of individuals from around the globe. Each week, this intellectually and culturally diverse group would meet via video to consult a not-for-profit outfit on its business needs. I worked on four projects with like-minded students who were also taking a CEMS master’s in international management. CEMS is an alliance of 32 top business schools across the world and 65 corporate partners. The projects I oversaw ranged from environmental missions to youth integration, and they varied geographically from Asia to North America.

Although our work was remote and completed on a voluntary basis, we were all heavily invested in the cause. We rarely met in person – but that all changed when a client, Life Projects for Youth (LP4Y), asked us to spend a month in the field to implement our work.

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LP4Y is a non-profit that helps young people facing extreme poverty obtain the skills they need to integrate into society. Currently located in the Philippines, Vietnam, India and Indonesia, LP4Y developed a unique Professional Training for Entrepreneurs (PTE) programme, providing underprivileged youth with an opportunity to join the 18-month integration ecosystem, and also offering them coaching/mentoring from LP4Y volunteers, as well as professional partners and universities.

During my month of consulting in situ, I was fully immersed and involved, travelling between the NGO’s various locations in the Philippine slums. Being able to work with these individuals and see first-hand how our project was assisting the NGO was a truly remarkable experience. It really highlighted the difficult situation that the young people were in and the opportunities that LP4Y provided.

It also allowed me to witness how much impact NGC’s work had achieved for the NGO, and it tested my own abilities to live in different conditions. This experience gave me the chance to hear the incredibly heartfelt stories of those whose lives we were helping to improve.

It was also useful to be able to to apply the skills that I was learning on my master’s course to make a tangible difference to the lives of young people.

This opportunity was life changing and truly highlighted how inspiring NGC is in providing an avenue for students to deliver real social impact while gaining consulting experience.

This journey has opened my eyes to a world in which social and financial gains can go hand in hand. It has led to my career today in Toronto, Canada, helping to run a start-up called Bmeaningful, Canada’s leading career site for social impact jobs. I am also honoured to lead the NGC team as the new president, starting this summer, and to continue supporting NGOs, social impact initiatives, CEMS students and alumni across the globe.

More about NGC and how we are making an impact

NGC is a CEMS student-run organisation founded in 2013 that provides pro bono management consulting services to social enterprises and NGOs around the world. Our goal is to develop feasible and sustainable solutions for social enterprises while providing CEMS students with hands-on consulting experience and the opportunity to give back to the local and global community.

Our consultants gain personal and professional experience in contributing to organisations that service affordable remittance, reforestation technology, digital marketplace for immigrants, augmented reality, and education, to name just a few.

Read more: How do I decide between doing a master’s or joining the workforce?


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