What do I need to know?

I’m often asked by college and graduate students what skills they should try to acquire if they are interested in “base of the pyramid” (BOP) investment. Many of these young people are already social entrepreneurs looking ahead, while others have been pursuing technical interests (finance, technology, housing, etc.) and trying to figure out what else they need to build a “doing well by doing good” career.

That choice of words “doing well by doing good” is deliberate. While there may well be a tide of young people willing and able to strike out for remote terrains in the name of worthwhile cause. Whether or not you question the validity of asking talented professionals to live on below market salaries so that they can help improve the living conditions of the poor and disadvantaged, the fact is that investment skills are scarce and the social finance world competes with vastly better-compensated mainstream banking and investment sectors. The reality is that we need to bring social sector knowledge and financial skills together in new and dynamic ways.

The “Top 5 Skill Sets” list is not intended to provide a single pathway to the impact investment world. There are any number of ways you can acquire a broad-based collection of skills and experience, and how you choose to do this should be a reflection of your personal passions, interests and opportunities. The Top 5 list is a reflection of my own background as well as of the types of experience I’ve come to value in hiring and pulling teams together for social impact investment work.

Please note that these skill sets are expressed in the context of “how do I prepare” for a social impact investment career. We’ll be touching on the “how do I hire” aspect of skill sets in the near future and welcome insights from existing social impact investors in the interim.

Check out the Top 5 Skill Sets list now!


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