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From The Financial Crisis To Making A Social Impact After My MBA

After seeing the impact of the financial crash on society, Francesca Spoerry set about launching a career in social impact


Thu Oct 24 2019

At the end of the first year of her undergraduate degree in philosophy, psychology & business, Francesca Spoerry worked an internship for Lehman Brothers focused on corporate social responsibility. 

She worked there between July and September 2008. On September 15th, 2008, Lehman filed for bankruptcy, one of many self-inflicted wounds at the hands of the finance sector. 

After university, Francesca moved into a collateral risk role with Morgan Stanley. She was charged with ensuring the bank had enough capital in reserve should 2008 repeat itself. 

Seeing the negative impact finance and financial institutions could have on people persuaded her to pursue a career in sustainability and corporate social responsibility. 

After an MBA from Copenhagen Business School, she was able to do just that. Francesca is now program manager at The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment (GSG). 

GSG is a nonprofit intent on solving social and environmental issues through impact investing: investments made with the intention to generate positive, measurable, social and environmental impact alongside a financial return.

How you can make the most of an MBA

Francesca (pictured below, right) was after a degree with a strong combined focus on business and sustainability. An MBA prevailed because she was keen to develop a rounded business education and transition away from the large corporate world she was used to at Morgan Stanley. 

Copenhagen Business School was the only school she applied to—the strong sustainability focus, corporate social responsibility modules, and small class sizes all stood out, she explains. 


MBAs on the Copenhagen Full-Time MBA can also now personalize their degree, to specifically combine their business acumen with an area of interest. 

Alongside the core curriculum, they choose from a personalized track in finance, digitalization, entrepreneurship, or governance and sustainability, and take these classes during the final leg of their MBA. The final term track classes are taken alongside students from Copenhagen's Executive MBA students.

“It changed my career path to exactly what I wanted to do,” Francesca says. “I went from a company of more than 50,000 people, whose main purpose was to create more value for shareholders, to a startup company of five people supporting social enterprises committed to tackling environmental problems”

That was immediately after the MBA. Francesca landed a role with Green Tech Challenge, a social enterprise that helps green companies scale. She worked within investor relations and business development. 

How she landed the role is a lesson in how you should approach an MBA, she says. You need to have a proactive, entrepreneurial attitude during and after the program, and be strategic about the roles you take immediately after the MBA. 

She came across a social impact conference in Stockholm, but the cost of the ticket was too expensive for her as a student. So rather than miss the conference, Francesca contacted them and offered to work their reception, or run their social media channels, and to note take during each session. She would do it free of charge in return for a ticket. 

Lo and behold they accepted her offer, and she took the train to Stockholm to work. While she was there, she met the founder running Green Tech Challenge, and that is what led to her six months at the firm. 

She also created her own website while on the MBA. She wrote content about impact investing, and says it shows potential employers you’re serious about your career direction. 

How does an MBA set you up for career success?

Francesca is now in London, working for The Global Steering Group for Impact Investment as program manager, a role she’s held since April 2018.

She says she’s always been interested in how financial institutions and organizations can have a positive impact on the world—but before the MBA she didn’t know what the solution was to take her career in that direction. 

Complementing her finance background with the MBA has enabled her to get to where she is today, she says. 

It gave her the confidence to apply for roles within the social impact space, as well as the ability to succeed in those roles. 

“If you’ve only ever known one company throughout your career, then you can struggle to see how you can ever change, but it’s possible, it just takes more willpower,” she says.  

“Somehow just going through that transition, gaining the confidence, knowing how a business operates, through finance, sales, HR, marketing and communications, it gives you the confidence and competence to make a drastic move.” 

The year-long Leadership Discovery Process runs alongside MBA modules at Copenhagen Business School. It develops your ability to influence yourself and others, explains Francesca, and is a core part of the MBA.

You get coaching and mentoring, and you get to identify what kind of leader you are as you develop your soft skills. “Crucial to success,” says Francesca. 

“I now work for an organization looking to change the way capital is being used, and a lot of what we’re trying to do is influence others on how to think about environmental or social issues,” she adds. “You need to be able to influence them, and you get that from the MBA.”

Student Reviews

Copenhagen Business School (CBS)




CBS: efficient international network

CBS has always been ranked among the best universities in Europe and this means that it has become a sign of professionalism and success. The academic level is great thanks to the good teachers and the atmosphere is proactive and challenging. Lots of events are planned every week and this helps you to find your own way. CBS is not only a business school, it is a great and efficient international network.




Good academic career

I did my Bachelors at CBS and their academic excellence and career opportunities led me to pursue my Masters in Accounting, Strategy and Control. I was very lucky to go on an exchange in Singapore for one semester it boosted me to get a career in a global firm. I like that it is super modern and has all the facilities for the business student in 2019. Especially, I liked the library and Bitlab where I spent most of my time studying. However, note that it is very demanding and studying here is no joke. Everything is very competitive and you are among the most excellent business students in the country. The interaction with international students helped me to see different perspectives in business and culturally and I was lucky to make friends from any part of the world. CBS is like a brand in Denmark. Every serious business company prioritizes us over any other Danish university and also it is free for European citizens. Overall, I have a very satisfying experience at CBS and I'm looking to continue my academical career even further.




CBS is one of the best!

All I have to say regarding my experience at CBS is that it is AMAZING. Having been tutored by world-class academic staff, I can definitely support that I am receiving the best of quality regarding my studies in Digital Marketing. Staff is very friendly and easy to approach. In addition, the facilities we enjoy are top class and meet any demands. Keep in mind that, EU citizens do not pay any fees. Student life might be non-existent here, but the location of the University in The very center of Copenhagen has a huge variety of choices to offer to students regarding their entertainment. Accommodation might be a problem, but early research of the market can be very useful. In addition, the University promotes diversity. In CBS University you can meet people from the whole world which is quite interesting. I definitely suggest CBS for any student who he's interested in pursuing a career in marketing or business.




The ideal business school

I have been enrolled in this university for 2 semesters. What I took from this experience is that there is nothing better out there for those looking for professional growth while being guided by some of the top-notch professors in Scandinavia. They have a really strong focus in technology and digital transformation and they are up to date to guarantee you land a job in the modern fast-evolving world. They also embrace diversity which means many students come from any part of the world and it takes the entire learning experience to another level. You simply learn from every other student cause everyone has different experiences and background which makes you open your mind and see the world from a different angle. In Denmark, even businesses prioritize people who graduate from CBS as it's commonly perceived as the most prestigious university for business graduates.

José Pedro



A Place of Personal Growth

In CBS you can expect an environment of proactive thinking and growth. The university staff is always open to help and to debate. The teaching methods balance theoretical knowledge and practical skills enabling the student with capacity and confidence to enter the job market successfully. The existence of students from all over the world stimulates discussion and promotion of different cultures, ideas and perspectives. I highly recommend this university for students in business-related areas.





The environment here is really great. Despite the well organized buildings and libraries, there are also places for students to just stay and relax also even study in the corners of each campus. The professors are mostly really nice and try to interact with students a lot. So, to sum up, the environment is really nice for studying here.




Quality education

Quality education where it emphazises the importance of academic. No finger to put on this aspect of the school. However, sometimes the administration and IT can be lacking a bit, but in general a really good choice for education!




Best Time!

Classes are challenging and conducted in a professional manner. CBS offers a wide range of possibilities to develop outside of the classes! Libraries and other facilities on the campus are very well adjusted to the student needs.




A heavily theory-based curriculum combined with an ever-stimulating environment

I am currently a Master student at CBS, but I have also completed a Bachelor's Degree in this university. I am quite satisfied with my studies and the teaching level. However, when compared to other business schools, it becomes apparent that most courses at CBS strive to find a good balance between theoretical insight and real-life examples. Compared to my exchange university, the projects that I have found myself writing at CBS have a far less practical application and also leave little room for creativity. If the teaching is heavily theoretical, on the bright side, the university arranges a number of events throughout the year to encourage students to apply their knowledge, in the form of career fairs, case competitions, and other events organized by student associations. In my experience, teachers are very easily approachable and happy to answer your questions. A foreign student like me will find a more international environment at Master level, since the number of international (or at least non-Scandinavian) students enrolled in the Bachelor programs is quite low. However, all communication (both oral and written) from teachers and the university offices is always in English. Administrative offices, student guidance services, the career center, and the international office are definitely worth a mention. All of the requests that I have had throughout the years have always been met with kindness, promptness and efficiency.

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