We asked six of our 2019/2020 Executive MSc in Social Business and Entrepreneurship alumni about their experience with the EMSBE programme and we will be sharing their inspirational stories on our blog for the next five weeks. Cara Middleton (Grobler) is next in our series of interviews.
It’s almost 7 months after my last class in the Masters program and almost 7 months in a new city with a new job on a different continent. The Exec Masters at the LSE broadened my perspective and created the enabling environment to allow for such a big change, even during a global pandemic.
Before starting the programme, I was working for a global fintech innovating a borderless credit model providing post graduate student loans. With a background in asset management across retail and institutional investors, I joined the start-up fintech as employee 60 in investor relations and left 3 years later when they had over 200 employees. I worked as a Capital Markets associate and later as Product Owner, working with a team of developers and capital markets to automate and innovate in managing retail, impact and institutional investors. This was my first exposure into the world of social impact, the differences and nuances of impact investors and the realisation that financial return alongside social change was possible, as were the array of opportunities to attract different types of capital.
Based on the nature of the fintech I had exposure to understanding the differences in the top MBA, Masters and Law programmes around the world and the opportunities they offered. The founders all came from top MBA programmes as did many of my colleagues. I wanted to pursue a similar route yet wanted a top programme that would provide in-depth academic rigour and practical knowledge in the field of social impact, giving me the best chance of pursuing a career in a field I was most passionate about and saw the greatest opportunity in. The Masters at LSE seemed like the perfect combination and I am relieved and happy to reflect that I would have made the same decision today.
The Programme is unique as it allowed me to work full time yet I was able to travel to London frequently for quality time with classmates and professors, it also gave me access to a network and opportunities that the LSE was and is so well positioned to provide. The classes were diverse, stimulating, thought provoking and due to the academic rigour and practical application, it instilled a level of maturity and confidence that was the catalyst to new career opportunities.
The masters at LSE, the momentum of class and projects and my ability to approach questions in interviews as a result, greatly contributed to me being offered two jobs during Covid, both offering visa sponsorship to move from South Africa. Currently I am an Investment Manager at IDH Farmfit Fund, a blended finance fund backed by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, two international banks and 3 multinationals to catalyse commercial investment into agricultural value chains and unlock the provision of long-term financing to smallholder farmers and agri SME’s. The long-term aspiration of the fund is to prove smallholder farmer finance can be a new asset class and I am so excited to be part of a dynamic team in the Netherlands striving to make that happen.
There are many key learnings, both academic and practical, from the programme that I continue to use in my day-to-day job. The masters at the LSE provided the platform for me to actively pursue a career that strives to create meaningful social impact, a privilege that I am incredibly grateful for.
Cara Middleton (Grobler)