Sarah Minahan took the skills she gained from the Master of Management into the world of consulting, where she now works as a Human Rights and Social Impact Consultant.
Sarah’s goal was always to help people. With this in mind, she completed an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Science, but some time spent travelling after graduation made her realise that she might be on a different path.
‘Originally, I wanted to be a doctor, or physio, some type of healthcare practitioner, but after graduation I spent a few years travelling overseas and working in hospitality. I met a lot of different people, from different backgrounds with different jobs. It was a chance to learn about the world beyond school, and about business in general. I discovered a lot about myself. I realised I wanted a career that was more around building relationships, and addressing major social problems - I wanted to start a social enterprise. Still helping people, but in another way.’
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With that in mind, Sarah decided to pursue the Master of Management (MM) at MBS.
‘I had just started working in HR when I commenced the Masters, so in the end I actually transferred from the HR specialist course to the more generalist option of the MM, as that allowed me more flexibility and breadth in terms of the classes I could choose. I did HR units, but I also got to take classes in areas like Finance, Project Management, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship. I also took Sustainable Business Practices, which was a real highlight, as it resonated with me how many of the issues we normally consider social or environmental can, and need, to be reframed as business issues,’ she says. ‘I also took part in the Global Business Practicum, which I did with PwC in Hong Kong. It was my first taste of the consulting world, which helped set me up for what I do now. We worked on a case for the Hong Kong government, looking at the potential of social impact bonds to address complex issues.’
Now, Sarah works with KPMG as a Human Rights and Social Impact Consultant, taking the lessons she learned through her studies and using her skills to solve real-world business problems.
‘At the moment, much of our day to day work is driven by a piece of legislation that has just come into effect here in Australia: The Modern Slavery Act. It requires companies with a certain revenue threshold to publicly report how they are addressing modern slavery within their operations and supply chains. It’s new territory for a lot of businesses, so we’re helping them to identify where they can strengthen their humans rights risk management, things like how they engage their suppliers, the types of policies they have in place, and how they train their staff. More broadly than this modern slavery work, our team also conducts social impact assessments and supports clients to develop their sustainability strategies. I love the multi-stakeholder engagement it requires, and turning qualitative data into a strong business case to operate differently.’
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It’s work that has opened Sarah’s eyes to the variety of ways we can tackle social and environmental issues and has inspired her thinking for the next step in her career.
‘I love what I’m doing now, but I think in future I’d still like to start my own social enterprise. That was the original dream, addressing social issues at their root cause. In particular, I think there are ways we can tackle issues like domestic violence and homelessness. I want to look at the lead indicators for women — and men — who might be at risk and see what we can do to address the precursors to situations that become violent or render a person’s housing insecure. I think, for example, if you can support financial literacy education, that can prevent someone slipping into a situation where they are at risk of experiencing not just domestic violence or homelessness, but things like substance abuse and mental health issues as well.’
Banner image by ANGELA BENITO on Unsplash