This summer I was a part of the founding cohort of Quarterbacks and served as Zambia Business Development Manager for Spark Ventures, a Chicago-based nonprofit with international partnerships that provide children in poverty with nutrition, education and healthcare. I was specifically worked on identifying a new business that a Spark Ventures partner organization could begin to operate in order to fund its philanthropic mission, and develop the corresponding business plan.
Becoming a Quarterback and working with Spark was a great experience since it provided me with a radical departure from my previous professional background in management consulting: instead of working for a large, multinational, Fortune 500 company, Spark Ventures provided small, vibrant, entrepreneurial environment focused on an exceptionally noble cause. I was given a lot of autonomy on how to manage the engagement, and I also had the fortune of working with a group of talented individuals.
…I had the opportunity to manage people…
For the first time, I had the opportunity to manage people, two undergraduates in Chicago and one in Zambia, to help me gather information and conduct the necessary analyses during the entire duration of the project. This was 3x the level of responsibility I had previously had! I also worked closely with the Director of Partnerships and indirectly interacted with the CEO.
This engagement was an invaluable experience not only in terms of the role within the organization and the opportunity to become a better manager, but also a great exposure to how the nonprofit world is structured and how social enterprises work. I was quite impressed with how resource efficiently Spark Ventures operates and how they leverage volunteer talent.
There was something exhilarating about the experience of working in this kind of an environment, and tackling such an open ended and complex problem. I had the freedom to structure analysis how I saw fit, and had the opportunity to perform due diligence in an area of the world and a problem type to which I had had relatively little exposure in the past.
Ultimately, I learned that it is very motivating for me to work on social impact related problems and I received robust feedback on my performance during the engagement.
Ultimately, I learned that it is very motivating for me to work on social impact related problems and I received robust feedback on my performance during the engagement. This has reinforced my desire to become an entrepreneur in the future as the most efficient way of having an impact and changing the world for better.
About Alejandro Correa: Alejandro was a founding Quarterback, participating in the program during the summer between his first and second years at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Alejandro is a passionate problem solver who loves tackling complex challenges in unconventional ways. He enjoys meeting talented people and believes in the power of social entrepreneurship to change the world. Originally from Mexico, Alejandro grew up living in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Spain. Before joining Spark Ventures, he worked six years as a management consultant for A.T. Kearney in Mexico City and New York. Alejandro received a B.Sc. degree in Physics Engineering from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and is continuing to pursue an MBA at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He is also a karate black belt, an architecture enthusiast, and an aspiring marathoner.
About Quarterback Reflections: Quarterback, a social enterprise startup building the leadership of the impact economy, is participating in global Pro Bono Week 2013 (#PBW13). In celebration of the pro bono ethic, alumni of Quarterback’s founding cohort are sharing reflections on their own high-impact, intensive engagements as part of the Quarterback program.