Student Assistant Positive Change Initiative
Student, Master in Global Business & Sustainability
Educated in Vietnam and Rotterdam, and with French family roots, Audrey Paré and her ambition embody what it is to be a global citizen. When she first started her bachelor studies in International Business Administration (IBA) at RSM, learning about segmented marketing and branches of finance did not appeal to her. But learning about social enterprises caught her attention and aligned with her interest in social issues and social sustainability – and naturally she joined the Positive Change Initiative Team. Audrey told us about her ambitions and motivation as a master student in Global Business & Sustainability.
What makes you so passionate about sustainability?
“I’m interested in sustainability and positive change in general, but I really like what we’ve learned about social enterprises in our business courses. I’m mostly interested in social issues such as inequality and social exclusion due to gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or other status.”
Where does that interest come from?
“I’ve always tried to find a way to help people; helping the most vulnerable groups of society or people who have experienced trauma in their lives really affects me. I guess it’s also because I’m really privileged, and I’ve had everything to have a good life. I have a good education, I’m able to work and have a loving family. But having everything is no reason to be unaware of a different kind of life, and what you might do to help those who struggle. That’s what made me join Enactus. I was able to join a start-up that helps migrant women with social inclusion, to help them launch their catering businesses.” Enactus is a global organisation that invests in student social innovators.
What did you learn and what did you enjoy?
“I realised that it’s not easy to help a group; there was a language barrier and we students were not always available to meet up. However, we did conduct interviews and got to know the women and their personalities better, and that was really amazing. Other business students in the group were all from different backgrounds and we used our pooled experiences to help them optimize their marketing and strategy plans. We also went to a few catering companies and got to see the results. What I enjoyed most was getting to know different cultures and working in a team.”
What are you working on in the Positive Change Initiative team?
“I’m working on the SDG Ambassador programme. I help with organising workshops and communicating with the ambassadors. For example, this week I joined a brainstorming session to identify which stage the ambassadors are at, and what they need at this point. I also work on the RSM Hummingbird Fund, which aims to provide some financial support to student initiatives that are non-profit in nature. I’ve pitched the fund and I am marketing it to find students that are interested in applying for the grant. I’ve worked with colleagues on the criteria that judges should use when assessing applications, and how to monitor the way that students will use the money.
“I really like it because I meet a lot of people, it’s really diverse, and I have a bit of responsibility. I can initiate some projects, and the team is really nice and friendly. We have ice-breaker sessions in the morning so if you run into a problem you won’t get stuck on it.”
What do you hope the SDG Ambassadors get out of this programme?
“Some SDG Ambassadors have already shown that they really like working on their projects and that they get inspired and have some collaborations with NGOs. Hopefully they’re forming friendships or partnerships. I would love it if some of their projects are still ‘alive’ by the end of this academic year and that they continue working on it or pass it on to next year’s ambassadors.”
What would you like to achieve?
“I’d like to figure out what I want to do next year”, she answers with a laugh. “I would like to find a meaningful job that fits with what I want to do. First, I’ll need to discover what it is I want to do; I’m trying to do that through networking and meeting really interesting, open people. The lectures in my master programme and working with the Positive Change team are really helping me find my way. I’m enjoying my life in Rotterdam a lot and I continue to be happy and develop personally in this city. For now, I’m just really grateful for that.”
Do you have any advice for students to help them see business from a different angle?
“Personally I think a big part of studying business is to do something else alongside it – even better if it’s with associations that aren’t too business-oriented, for example Enactus or Erasmus Sustainability Hub. Also meeting students from different backgrounds or from other disciplines is valuable.
Audrey is interested in doing a traineeship after she graduates, perhaps at the European Commission, or at an impact hub or social start-up. She’s particularly interested in project management and is open to taking on new challenges.