Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Hua-Dan Project

One of goals I'd set for myself before coming to INSEAD was gain more awareness about the Social Impact sector. And as expected, the opportunities INSEAD provided were plenty!  I attended social impact panels and met two Social Entrepreneurs in Residence (SEiR).

What was even better - one of those entrepreneurs actually provided me with an opportunity to support her with her new project!

Caroline Watson, founderof Hua Dan (a social enterprise that has changed millions of lives of immigrant women and children in China), was on campus for a presentation and for the Social Entrepreneur in Residence program.

I really wanted to understand the why, how and what of her story. That was my main motivation.So I strap my son in the stroller and off we went. I enter the amphi and see a few people (surprsingly mostly partners) already seated. I asked her if it was ok to attend the session with my son (who was asleep in his stroller) and she was more than happy with the idea :).

Her story was fascinating. Raised in the UK, lived in HK and moved to China to bring about change - wow!  She was particularly struck by a drama style used by a famous artist in Brazil and wanted to use that very technique to vocalize and mobile people around social issues faced by millions of migrant women workers in China. I was struck by the potential in the methodology used and of course the impact.

When she mentioned at the end of her presentation that she is looking for volunteers, I jumped at the opportunity!

I followed up with her after the presentation by email with my CV and soon we had a call to discuss what I could take on given my constraints and availability. After two discussions, we finalized on a project - "How to position and sell to corporate clients". The deliverables were a sales pitch deck and a sales proposal document.

What I enjoyed most is the process of actually crafting the final deliverables. It was stimulating and challenging.  I had great discussions with Caroline about the potential of her business. She gave me an insight into the new business model - I learnt about the business model canvas method of brainstorming new business ideas. We also met  a couple of times over few months at INSEAD to brainstorm ideas and make sure the project was on track.

I also reached out to my mentor at Cisco who helped me think about Sales processes, pitches and proposals. He is and has always been amazing. I learn so much from even a 15 minute discussion with him! So this project was a great opportunity to put my skills, knowledge, interest and experience to an area what was so new to me.

All in all, a wonderful stimulating experience; a great opportunity to keep my professional side alive and experiment in a safe environment during this major life transition of mine.

I would highly recommend anyone who has the time when at INSEAD to utilize such opportunities. You will surely learn something new and a whole lot about yourself,

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