Katie Wehmeyer will graduate from the Crosby MBA program in May 2016 with a concentration in Management. She graduated from MU with a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and wants to work in a space where she can make a social impact. Katie’s colleagues readily describe her as one of the kindest and hardworking individuals in the program. She loves exploring, whether its finding the best coffee shop in Columbia or hiking to the top of Machu Picchu.
Hola! This summer I was fortunate to be participate in a fellowship in Lima, Peru with a program called Emzingo, a newly-certified B Corporation, in their NexGen Fellowship. This program was designed for MBA students to get international consulting experience in the social sector, and it has been quite the experience! There are 12 fellows here in Peru, representing eight different countries, and distributed between five different projects for the summer.
I have spent the past two months working with an organization named Ruwasunchis. Ruwa is a small non-profit working in a community called Manchay, designed to promote youth and women empowerment through entrepreneurship. One of the programs that Ruwa has implemented is Ayllu, a social brand under which a group of weavers from the community sell the products they create. My project worked specifically with Ayllu, with a goal of enhancing their business plan and marketing strategy in a way that will allow the brand to be sustainable and continue employing weavers.
While Ruwa is fairly established, Ayllu is a new initiative and is still functioning like a brand new start up. This gives the project an interesting dynamic, and allows me to pull on a variety of courses I have taken. The MBA program provides its students with a thorough toolkit of ways to analyze and address business challenges, and I have been making good use of all marketing tactics this summer! My fellowship has made business school come to life. SWOT analysis, product positioning, marketing funnels…all of those concepts have made it to our team’s whiteboard this summer. And when I say ‘team’, I mean the two of us: Hisashi, another fellow from Japan, and myself. There is quite a bit of pressure in being in a team of two. It forces us to take on responsibilities that we wouldn’t normally feel confident in, and to find solutions in situations in which we have little experience. Both of us have found that, regardless of the amount of knowledge we think we lack, we have been able to analyze situations thoroughly and from different angles using skills gained in our MBA programs. Which is incredible, considering that neither of us have previous experience in Peru, in the social impact sector, or in trying to figure out the best way to market scarves for that matter.
Above and beyond the social sector and consulting experience, I’ve been introduced to a whole new perspective on the importance of community. My favorite part of the fellowship was feeling so accepted by the people I lived and worked with. Interestingly, both Emzingo and Ayllu mean community, in Swahili and Quechan respectively. I have felt an overwhelming sense of community this summer with the other fellows, with Ayllu’s team, and with the weavers and children in Manchay. All of my best moments this summer involved the incredible people I met in Peru. I have been surrounded by excellent examples of people loving their work, fostering empathy, and being agents for change in everything they do. This entire experience has solidified my desire to work in the social impact space upon graduating in May 2016, and to use my talents, education, and passion to be a resource to others.