Stepping Outside to Create Change Inside — Ashkaan’s Story

Mark Horoszowski

Mark Horoszowski is the co-founder and CEO of MovingWorlds.org, as well as an adjunct lecturer on Corporate Social Responsibility at the University of Washington Tacoma's Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility.

Facing the familiar faces of co-workers in a corporate boardroom in Seattle, Ashkaan had a moment’s flashback to the busy outdoor classrooms in Costa Rica he’d just left. After six months supporting a rural school in Costa Rica to improve its educational outcomes, as well as the community with a solar electrification project, he was back in his old corporate setting. But he knew he was not the same person — and this was no ordinary presentation.

As with many Experteers, Ashkaan’s international skills-based volunteering experience wasn’t a complete break from corporate life. Rather, it was a chance for him to build on his professional experience through a stretch assignment and explore what it means to be a global citizen and a purpose-driven leader. Yes, he wanted to return to his promising career when it was over, but he also wanted to do more…

As Ashkaan started his presentation to his company’s leadership, he shared how he had grown both professionally and personally through his time in Costa Rica — and then went a step further.  He laid out an opportunity he’d identified for improved employee volunteering that would deepen his company’s social impact, and increase the professional development of employees taking part.

People like Ashkaan are sometimes called social intrapreneurs, corporate changemakers, and/or internal impact makers. Like their better-known counterparts, social entrepreneurs, social intrapreneurs start world-positive initiatives. However, rather than starting a new business, they drive change from within their current workplace, using market-based approaches to create shared value. Most commonly social intrapreneurs are in large corporations, but we also see them in startups, universities, public sector institutions, and even NGOs.

Ashkaan was always interested in the intersection of business and social impact. That’s a big part of why he went to work at West Monroe Partners, a management and technology consulting firm that follows the 1-1-1 model of responsibility: donating 1% of “treasure, talent and time”. In fact, the company goes a step further, allowing employees to make a global impact through the competitive Fischer Global Service Fellowship, which rewards selected West Monroe employees with six months of paid time off to volunteer with the organization of their choice.

Ashkaan worked hard to earn the fellowship, and in 2017, was accepted by West Monroe. Looking to be more than just a volunteer, Ashkaan also applied to be a MovingWorlds Experteer. His main goal was to follow best practices to make a sustainable impact. He also wanted to connect with what he described as “a group of peers you learn with, and that you can lean on throughout your placement”.

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Once accepted at MovingWorlds, Ashkaan engaged in training, mentorship, and coaching to not only make an impact while Experteering, but also to grow as a purpose-driven leader in the process. In his own words:

All the way through my placement I was prompted to reflect on and capture my learning, with a capstone project that I could present back to my company.

After a transformative six months in Costa Rica, Ashkaan returned energized to continue contributing to the greater good. And he proved his skills and dedication as a social intrapreneur as soon as he was back in his normal workflow: sharing his experience back to senior leaders and putting forward ways in which the company could deepen their social impact.

Ashkaan has impressed everyone at MovingWorlds with his energy and commitment to creating shared value. Now that he’s returned home, we’ve enjoyed following Ashkaan as he continues to embody what it means to be a purpose-driven leader. In our last catch-up with Ashkaan, he shared that he’s on a mission to deepen the impact of the Fischer Fellowship at West Monroe, and to raise his colleague’s awareness of skills-based volunteering.

“It’s great to be able to come back from my time with MovingWorlds and talk to my leadership about what I gained in the field. I would never have had the opportunity to do something like this without the Fischer Fellowship, and I wouldn’t have gained what I did without MovingWorlds. What’s powerful is that this field placement is far from a career-limiting move. It’s a platform for someone to gain visibility across the organization. To have that opportunity, as well as a life-changing experience in a completely new context, is incredible. I want the program to grow, and I want West Monroe to make it as effective for the organizations we support as we can.”

Join Ashkaan in pursuing social impact alongside your professional growth by applying to Corporate Impact Team if you’re looking to grow as a social intrapreneur, or our Institute if you’re looking at a career transition. You can also learn more about all MovingWorlds programs here.

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