Include Social Enterprise in your Career:

Cristina Lopez, MBA ’98, got her start in social enterprise as a summer fellow with the HBS Community Enterprise Program. Though her current role in Investment Management at Wellington keeps her busy on the for-profit side, her social enterprise interests remain active through various HBS alumni activities. Prior to this role, Cristina worked in private equity in Latin America.

How were you involved in social enterprise at HBS?

I was a member of the Social Enterprise club. My main social enterprise activity was my summer internship with the Community Enterprise Program. It was a fantastic experience. I worked with a fellow HBS student to help a community development venture capital fund get off the ground. I was very interested in economic development and innovative financial tools to promote economic development, so it was a perfect fit for me. The summer challenged my assumptions about applying private sector practices to the social sector, making me realize that there are many subtle, but substantive, differences between organizations that need to be taken into account when developing a business model.

Why did you decide to become involved?

I knew that I wanted to incorporate social enterprise-type organizations and missions into my career, so becoming involved in with social enterprise at HBS was a wonderful way to explore my interests and meet others at HBS with similar interests.

How are you involved or planning to be involved in social enterprise now and in the future?

At the moment, I am not involved with a social enterprise organization either as my employment or on a volunteer basis. Unfortunately, my work life has not allowed for it. I am involved with various HBS alumni activities associated with social enterprise, which I find useful to hear what fellow HBS grads are doing in social enterprise and keep up on current thinking and developments and track the progress of various organizations. In the future, I plan to become involved in social enterprise both on a volunteer basis and as a full-time endeavor.

What advice would you give to current students about pursuing social enterprise?

Now, while you are at HBS is a wonderful time to explore your interests. There are so many interesting organizations and people who come to campus – take advantage of them! And there is such great discourse on social enterprise topics. It may feel overwhelming with all of the other activities and speakers on campus, but your time on campus is unique and limited. Once you leave campus, it becomes more difficult to keep up on the breadth of social enterprise topics, especially if you do decide to work in the private, non-social enterprise sector.

This profile is part of a semester-long series intended to highlight the lives of HBS alumni working in the social enterprise arena. Each featured alumni is a participant in the Social Enterprise Club’s mentorship program, a pilot initiative launched this year in the Boston area. This program, currently facilitating 20 mentor/student partnerships, will be rolled-out nationally this fall.