The first time I came across the concept of ‘Theory of Change’ was in Garth Yule’s social entrepreneurship class at the Sauder School of Business. Inspired and stirred, I immediately saw opportunity to marry my penchant for quantification with my need for purpose. Little did I know that this would be the moment I discovered my true path.
The seeds of this drive to be an agent of deep-seated change, however, were sown in a place and at a time far removed from where I am today. I witnessed first-hand the impact of unsustainable businesses on the environment and society first as an apparel designer and then as an entrepreneur in India. My work across product life-cycles and supply chains in different contexts, pushed me to question prevailing systems and traditional profit-focused business models.
Making a difference is within reach for all of us.
Experience supporting local artisans in the course of my entrepreneurial experience reinforced my belief that making a difference is within reach for all of us. I also began to fathom slowly the extent of the need to nurture and guide visionaries, social entrepreneurs and organizations that are at different stages of their journey towards greater corporate social responsibility. A key life goal for me is to optimize businesses to be more sustainable and purpose-driven.
Junxion, as a certified B Corp, a forerunner of this much-needed shift toward social impact and innovation, and an instigator of the dialogues of the future, is an organization that reflects my own innate drive to make a difference. From supporting the work at Adidas to pioneer sustainability reporting in the sportswear industry, to building a comprehensive strategy to translate Imagine1day’s ambitious dream of granting Ethiopian children unrestricted access to quality education, to our current work supporting one of the world’s leading impact evaluators, Junxion is truly driving the change I’m keen to see.
Junxion’s President & CEO, Mike Rowlands, embodies Junxion’s characteristic visionary meets changemaker meets brilliant strategist meets skilled marketer. And he wears each of these hats gracefully and effortlessly.
So, when Garth highlighted a vacancy at Junxion, I jumped at the opportunity. I still recall my first interview with Mike, over the telephone that, a few minutes in turned into a decidedly un-interview. After a scintillating conversation about topics ranging from why responsible business should be more than just a branding strategy to how companies can contribute to protecting endangered marine species by reducing their plastic use, I knew I was in the right place, with the right people. And that the kind of conversations that really need to take place, here and now, have only just begun….
When we posted a Consultant position on our website this fall, we were inundated with all manner of CVs. A handful stood out, but honestly, my shortlist was really short: I knew after the first interview that I wanted Menaka Premkumar to join Junxion Strategy.
Yesterday, a month or so after she joined the company, Menaka and I popped outside for a quick breath of fresh air. On our quick walk, while we bantered about nothing in particular, she shared an opinion that I’ve always believed should be a mantra of HR: ‘hire for attitude and train for skills.’ Little did Menaka know, that’s exactly how I felt after our first conversation. First, though, a little about Menaka….
Sometimes, you catch a rising star.
She’s a rising star. Sometimes you just meet people you know are destined to do something amazing. It wasn’t merely that she’s worked in small startups and multinational companies. It wasn’t merely that she speaks five languages. It wasn’t merely that she no sooner completed her MBA than she turned around and started teaching at a local college. No, beyond all these things, she was profoundly humble about her accomplishments: The small startup? Her own Soirée Couture. The multinational? FedEx—where she was awarded an exceptional customer service award. The languages? Yeah… she kind of forgot to put those on her CV!
Already, Menaka’s making an impact with our clients…. Reframing the half-century story of a sustainable architecture firm. Refreshing the strategy of a national social services agency. Researching the opportunities for the next era of a leading impact evaluation firm. Watch this space…. I think she’s going to do some amazing things.
Helping leaders build the success stories of the next economy.
From her cover letter: “I feel very strongly about conservation, social justice and bringing about a change in business philosophy beyond purely financial gain to a greater common good.” Yes, so do we. In fact, we’re dedicating the next era of Junxion to that, exactly, as we focus our work on helping leaders to build the success stories of the next economy. Yes, hire for attitude—or values and worldview—and train for skills. Of course, her BA in Psychology along with her MBA from UBC’s Sauder School positions her pretty well to teach us a few things.
Welcome aboard, Menaka. We’re excited and lucky to have you!