Towards the end of last year I decided to make a career change from consulting into the world of Social Investment. It was when looking for job opportunities that I saw the position as a Sankalp Unconvention Summit (SUS) 2014 volunteer advertised. It appeared to be exactly what I was looking for: an inside view of the key issues and developments in the sector and an unparalleled chance to meet leaders from across the world in social investment and enterprise.
So I duly sent in my application form, had a couple of Skype interviews and found myself selected as one of 20 volunteers from across the world, India to Cameroon, Portugal to the US, flying out to spend a week in Mumbai supporting the summit.
I was excited, but a little bit apprehensive as just a week before I flew I was asked to be one of the two emcees for the summit along with another volunteer, Shruti. Seeing the size of the main room didn’t serve to quell my fears – a mere 900 people expected. But I was fantastically well supported by the Sankalp team (and PronounceNames.com which just about saved me from any embarrassing mispronunciations) and genuinely enjoyed the experience. When not engaged in their roles, the volunteers were free to do as they pleased, and I loved being able to talk to other delegates and find out more about their amazing experiences.
So did the Sankalp Unconvention Summit live up to my expectations? Without question. I got to hear captivating discussions between leaders in the fields of social entrepreneurship and investment, both in India and globally, and to engage with fascinating people who are at the heart of developing this nascent ecosystem. As I now work for Social Finance, a social investment intermediary based in London, I have even been able to carry some of these new connections through to my professional life.
Ultimately though, what made the whole experience so special was the opportunity to meet my fellow volunteers and the Sankalp team. There aren’t many circumstances where you get the chance to work with such a diverse set of people who share a common interest, and as our celebratory night out in Mumbai was testament to, it’s a situation worth making the most of.