Part One: Big Strategy for Small Businesses

When I started my senior year at Boston College, I was hit with the difficult task of answering “what do I want to do when I grow up?” I knew I enjoyed analytical problem solving, working collaboratively with a team, and the ability to learn about many different industries and strategic business challenges. I also knew that I was passionate about having an impact on my community and I felt empowered by BC’s mission to create “men and women for others.”

 

My senior year, I attended information session after information session and tried to convince myself that just about every company was the company for me—from investment banking, to sales and trading, to management rotational programs, and just about everything in between. However, the company that stood out to me was L.E.K.—I remember hearing associates who were only a year or two older than me talk about how their work at L.E.K. changed the airline industry by developing the strategy that resulted in us now having to pay baggage fees, etc. (thanks L.E.K.). But, what stood out to me even more was how many of the associates talked about the opportunities they had through L.E.K. to give back to the community.

 

Low and behold, I started at L.E.K. the next fall. A few months into my first year, I got an email from another associate saying that he was starting a non-profit called Main Street Partners to partner teams of top-tier young professionals with small business owners to help stabilize and grow their businesses, and in turn grow the community. He was looking for a team of associates to help strengthen a local mom and pop café located in a low-income neighborhood in Boston. The business was started by a Marine Corps veteran whose dream had always been to run a local café. He had the passion and the drive, but he did not have the business acumen needed to successfully run the business. I was so excited when I saw this email—it was the perfect opportunity to cross my passions—using my problem solving skill set and having a meaningful impact on my community. I ended up working with the business owner for several months to develop his pricing strategy—something he had not given much thought to, but ultimately ended up having a dramatic impact on his business.

 

After that project, I was hooked. I ended up working with several other small businesses throughout Boston. It was an incredible way to use the business skills I had been developing at L.E.K. to have a meaningful impact on my community. It was also a great way for me to step-up into a management role—after a couple of projects, I was able to become a project leader and manage a team of my peers to help a small retail store in Roslindale. I reached out to the co-founders to see if there were other ways for me to get involved with the organization, and they suggested joining them for several months. L.E.K. understood that I was curious about exploring the social sector and allowed me to take a sabbatical to work with Main Street Partners (MSP) full-time for several months. During that time, I was working directly with potential partners and funders to help grow the organization and to support full-time staff. I returned to L.E.K. for several months—and then when MSP secured funding, the opportunity came up for me to join MSP full-time.

 

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