One Year On: We meet back up with career changer Nick

Nick Feneck joined us in summer last year to support social entrepreneurs in Hyderabad along with a team of international volunteer Consultants, and he was very much seeking a career change from the professional services sector. We meet back up with him to discover what he’s doing now and how he feels looking back at his 6 weeks in India.

Tell us about yourself, what career were you in before you did _SocialStarters and what prompted you to seek a career in a purpose driven start up?

Before SS I was working in corporate consultancy. I found it intellectually stimulating but it lacked the impact and purpose I was looking for. I also didn’t want to be just another a cog of a machine, I wanted to see the impact of my work on a daily purpose.

What were the top 2 things you learned on the Immersion Programme in India?

1) Communication is vital

Not just understanding different working customs but also how and why people communicate as they do working cross-borders. Having patience, showing respect, empathy and relationship-building: these are more important and prevalent in places like India than I was used to in the UK.

2) Where there are problems, there are opportunities

One of the thrills of working in an emerging market is the very real challenge of working on social issues. I’ve never been more impressed by everyone’s commitment and dedication to these challenges: poverty, hygiene, gender equality, these issues are deeply rooted and cannot be changed overnight. However, locals and expats alike address these challenges using innovation, technology and ‘jugaad’ (Indian hacking!).

How did the programme affect the way you viewed your career?

It made me realise just how important purpose and vision is to a career. There has to be some deep underlying passion behind doing what we do. It also reaffirmed my belief that you surround yourself with the best people (colleagues, friends, clients), and it makes for a stimulating and engaging working environment!

After completing the programme over a year ago now, what’s changed for you, if anything?

I’ve recently joined a global startup competition called Seedstars  and are currently touring Asia and its ecosystems finding the best early stage startups. _SocialStarters certainly led me to this position!

What advice would you give to anyone trying to get a career in the world of social impact or start-up?

Hustle and hustle hard!

Go out your way to meet people, to impress them, to nudge them to the point where they feel duty-bound to go for a coffee with you. Startups have changed the modus operandi of working: its no longer about long-term, structured career progression. They want quick growth, facilitated by low cost/risk hacks – so you should demonstrate you can do the same!

What would you say to someone thinking about travelling with purpose and looking to volunteer?

Do it!

Immerse yourself fully in the program and challenges. The more you put into it, the more you get out.

_SocialStarters is a great experience that has shaped my understanding of what I enjoy and what I’m good at – and this can only be done by working ‘in the field’. It is as much a personal as it is a professional journey.


We’re on the search for our next cohort of volunteer Social Impact Consultants for 2017. If you think this is you, drop us a line NOW to and tell us why you think you’d make a great Social Impact Consultant in either India, Sri Lanka or Brazil. Our team will be on hand to make recommendations, answer questions and help you ascertain which career break might be right for you.


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