Designing a Career of Purpose, Mission and Impact

What gets you out of bed and off to work in the morning? For some, it’s financial necessity. For others, it could be a sense that this is the job they are ‘supposed to do.’

But what happens when the job you have provides you with a sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to change the world? To answer this question, I interviewed my friend and mentor Yasmina Zaidman. Yasmina is the Chief Partnerships Officer at Acumen. Her story proves that you can have a Soul Career® that taps into your passion and provides you with a sense of purpose.

Acumen’s mission and vision 

Acumen is a global non-profit organization that changes the way the world tackles poverty; by investing patient capital in early-stage businesses, whose products and services enable the poor to transform their lives. Acumen has invested around 132 million dollars in 130 companies worldwide, and has partnered with major corporations such as IKEA. Acumen typically invests in entrepreneurs who reflect the diversity of issues within the communities they serve. They offer programs such as Accelerator which focuses on supporting fresh start-ups and Pioneer Investing, aimed at entrepreneurs who have market experience but are now getting ready to scale. 

How Yasmina found her Soul Career® in the impact space

Yasmina’s interest in social justice started at an early age. She spent her early years in Venezuela. It was there that she first noticed the drastic difference in living conditions between the wealthy and the lower classes. She then moved to California where she learned values like social justice and environmental protection. By the time Yasmina went to college, her interest in social justice was deeply ingrained, and she decided to use her knowledge to drive social impact. 

How she started at Acumen and why she stayed there for so long

Yasmina started working at Acumen right after leaving business school. She had previously done a brief stint in corporate sustainability, but decided to switch gears when she felt burnt out. Initially, she served as the Water Portfolio Manager and worked in India and Bangladesh. She credits this experience with helping her to gain a greater appreciation of the importance of commodities like water which we tend to take for granted. She then worked in communication for six years, and finally created the role of Strategic Partnerships Officer, where she focuses on fundraising to support social entrepreneurs and building a bridge between Acumen and the traditional corporate world. 

The average person stays with one company for around 4 or 5 years. So I was surprised that Yasmina has been with Acumen for almost 18 years. When asked why she has stayed at Acumen so long Yasmina states that she loves Acumen’s dynamic nature. She joined the organization in its early days and this allowed her to actively drive Acumen’s evolution. She also credits the organization with having a diversity of skills and experiences. As a result, Acumen can blend innovation and entrepreneurial energy with a focus on accountability and traditional metrics.

Advice for those who want to make a mission career their Soul Career®

Yasmina’s first piece of advice is to reflect. Think about why this is important to you and connect your desire to make a difference to your own life story. Second, Yasmina believes that we don’t have to join a non-profit or start our own business if we want to work in the impact space. Many corporations are now trying to embed principles of inclusivity and sustainability into their practices. Third, do your homework, investigate businesses to see if they share your values. Finally, once you’ve found the organization you feel is a good fit for you, be honest with yourself about where you shine and show up ready to do whatever is needed. 

What lies ahead for Yasmina

Yasmina wants to push herself to the next level of her career. She intends to take on more of a mentoring role and wants to focus on spending more time with her family. 

That’s it for this post. You can check out the podcast on the Soul Career YouTube Channel and any podcast player.

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When we think about careers we usually think of it as something we should chase. In Soul Career you get the ability to really slow down and assess what you want.  

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We invest in a lot of things like clothing, trips, travelling and gym memberships. Why not invest in something that’s going to propel you and your professional career to places you couldn’t even dream of.”

to be added…

“Before Soul Career I assumed that jobs were not meant to be enjoyed. I thought jobs were just something that you had to do to pay the bills. But coming out of this program, I recognize that you can find something that actually suits you.”