When I applied to the Kinship Conservation Fellows program, I had niggling notions that my career needed a better grasp of economic tools and I wanted to understand how they could be used in conservation. But I was conflicted about their usefulness. I wondered whether sustainable development was truly achievable and if so, what does this mean for conservationists, the environmental economists and, of course, nature?
For some time, I had been wrestling with the idea of pursuing an MBA course and realized Kinship would be a fitting bridge to making this decision. Besides, the Kinship program promised additional leadership skills and, because of the length of the program, a time to reflect and recharge. Kinship was at once a formative and transformative chapter in my life. From the faculty to my fellow Fellows! The faculty broached a wide array of topics covering globally-pressing and cutting-edge issues. But perhaps most beneficial for me were the informal networks and conversations between the faculty and the other Fellows. We formed an incredible bond.
A key element that stands out for me was the “against-the-grain” opinion provided by some of the more seasoned faculty members about the usefulness of a conventional MBA program for a person at my career point. Being in the program provoked my thinking and enabled me to believe in the power of a type of self-learning, with an emphasis on business training for conservation. Another important element was the Gallup StrengthsFinder report, which was an eye-opener. Ultimately, I was able to return home with a greater understanding of myself and more concrete knowledge about what I needed to do to steer my career in the direction I had always desired.
The Kinship Fellows program motivated me to develop my finance skills. I have since taken several finance and financial accounting courses that have been hugely beneficial--from developing business plans for innovative community projects to planning my personal investments. I also directly apply the critical impact assessment knowledge and insights gained from the Kinship program in my day-to-day biodiversity and social impact assessment work. Further, I am still in touch with my colleagues from the program. We developed a paper together on biodiversity offsets in protected areas, which we presented at the World Parks Congress in Sydney (2014), and was recently accepted for publication in Biological Conservation Journal.
The self-learning from the leadership component has furnished me with greater soft power that I put to use every day, both professionally and socially. Being forever a part of the Kinship Community is terrific and I am positive that we’ll keep generating great ideas, publications, collaboration and positive vibes to keep the conservation agenda burning!
"I directly apply the critical impact assessment knowledge and insights gained from the Kinship program in my day-to-day biodiversity and social impact assessment work."