Expanding the Realm of Possibilities

Posted on July 12, 2018

For better or worse, human beings remember novelty far more than repeated experiences. We grow from endeavors which push us outside the boundaries of our comfort zones, forcing us to adapt to new environments. Along a similar vein, it is the moments of “aha!” and “I cannot believe I’d never viewed it in this light before” that dramatically stretches our realms of possibility, permanently changes our worldviews. In my experience, the greatest value I received from my participation in the Centre for Social Impact’s (CSI) certificate program stems from these “aha!” moments, moments where I challenged my conventional views of business and opened myself to entirely new business models and paradigms with which to approach people, planet and profit. 

One of these game-changing moments occurred when I found myself directing questions to Walt Macnee, Chairman of Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, speaking about the ways in which a for-profit entity may leverage their existing infrastructure to drive missions of social change, or in this case, easing an individual’s access to capital by improving the social security infrastructure of an entire country. Before discussions such as this, which occurred during the Centre’s 2016 Social Impact Summit, I thought that businesses only sold products for profit and that missions pertinent to human well-being and societal improvement were left for governments and NGOs. 

My participation in the CSI’s certificate program had me engage with individuals far different than myself, whose lenses of viewing the world were tinted far differently than my own. This instilled both a sense of openness as well as cultivated a thirst for more that many certificate students carry with them. This thirst for more knowledge and insight is what inspires you to speak with individuals such as RBC’s Head of Impact Investing, musicians such as Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, and IBM Canada’s leader of their Women in Technology Initiative (WIT), all of whom I met through attending CSI conferences. 

In some cases, the conversations you have will ignite such a spark in you that you simply have to jump aboard and help advance the mission, which is exactly the position I found myself in as I joined IBM in my third-year summer after speaking with one of their leaders at a CSI event. 

This is the brilliance of the social impact program: that you cannot imagine the directions in which it will guide your growth. This is due to how, when you are surrounded by peers and leaders with such a passion to bring about profitable, social change, you really can do no wrong. This is why I feel that my enrolling as a certificate student was one of the best decisions I made during my time at Queen’s, and I recommend it to anyone looking to expand their worldview and realm of possibilities.