My Experience - by Nathan Mah, MEI 2017

Posted on July 19, 2017

My experience working towards the Certificate in Social Impact is one I relished. In the beginning, I was ecstatic at the opportunity to work with something bigger than just my own business project. Having come from a healthcare background, I was passionate to make a difference in others’ lives, and I thought the Certificate in Social Impact would be a perfect way to make that a reality.

As I progressed through the Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation program (MEI), the Certificate remained on my mind, and by following my passions I ended up falling into a great project for the case study portion of the certificate. The same goes for the volunteer outreach MEI Legacy Project; I was working on a something I was personally passionate about, and wanted to complete to help the greater good of my classmates. This internal desire also happened to fulfill the requirements for the Certificate, and it showed me that by having a focus on helping others, you can achieve your own goals too.

A key takeaway that I gained from my experience in the Certificate in Social Impact was that social good does not always have to mean sacrificing wealth. It is often confused that social good and monetary benefit are mutually exclusive, but from several conference sessions and conversations I’ve had about social finance, I learned that they are entirely supportive ideologies. By helping the world in a positive way, we are empowering and nourishing human spirits, and that is the greatest benefit we can receive, monetary or otherwise.

I’ve always had an unconventional way of thinking, and that is reflected in my experiences in the Certificate. I try to approach every interaction from a critical perspective, and understand where the speaker is coming from before applying my own opinions. My reflections on speakers, conferences and sessions show this, and I included the talks that inspired the most thought in me.

The case study was especially important to me. In the MEI program, I attempted to start a non-profit here in Canada that is like the one I researched for my case study, OpenBiome.  In my journey, I faced major struggles, roadblocks, and found some success, but eventually, I had to change my focus. However, the conversations and relationships I made through my passion project remained, and I look at the experience as a net positive because of it. It is true that we learn more from our failures than our triumphs, and that has never been more true than through my experience in the 2016-2017 MEI program.

I want to thank the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) for supporting the MEI program in so many ways. We are entirely grateful for the support we’ve had in putting on events, making connections, providing guidance and being overall great to the people in our class. We take nothing for granted from the CSI, and hope that our work and passion towards social causes is a way of repayment for your hard efforts. I hope to remain connected not only to the CSI, but to the Smith School of Business for the rest of my career, and I look forward to the new paths we will go on as a result.

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