“Although only a child, I knew that it was not just that so many of those near me were inflicted with such hardships. This principle is what led me to my studies and has shaped the impact that I hope to make.” Natalia Arjomand
Natalia joined SecondMuse as a consultant with experience in sustainability, shared value, strategy and finance. At SecondMuse she has worked closely in systems transformation focusing on the power of social innovation to change the world. She is passionate about the transformative power of business for social, economic and environmental good. Prior to SecondMuse, Natalia was a strategy consultant at Deloitte in the Energy Management and Sustainability group. Natalia began her career working at Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital after receiving her B.S. in Finance.
In today’s blog, we invite you to meet Natalia and her path to SecondMuse, her passion for collaboration and how her unique upbringing has given her perspective when it comes to justice.
Natalia, how did you find your way to SecondMuse?
I first heard about SecondMuse while in graduate school through my mother, who at the time was doing some work with Chad and Todd, the two co-founders of the company. I was completing my MBA and Masters in International Development and was very interested about their collaborative approach to development, including both the private and public sectors in discourse and action. A few years later, I reached back out to Todd when I was looking for my next career move and he asked me what my dream job would be. I started telling him about my graduate thesis on shared value (at the time this was a term recently coined by Michael Porter) in the cosmetics industry. I could see he was getting very excited and to be honest I found it somewhat surprising. I paused halfway and asked him why he seemed so interested and he shared that just that week they received a proposal from a cosmetics company to help them with their corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy however no one on the team had experience in the industry. So immediately I offered to support on the proposal and it became a trial run for what working together would be like. Although the project never came to fruition, this was the start of my working relationship with Secondmuse and two months later I joined the team full-time.
What is one thing that people might not know about you already?
Many people don’t know that I didn’t learn to speak English until I was 10 years old and it is actually the third language I learned. I was born and raised in a very small town in Brazil with both of my parents coming from Iran. In fact, they were the first Iranians to ever live in the town I was born in (their arrival made the local newspapers and led to an invitation to the mayor’s home for dinner!). I spent the next 15 years of my life in the United States living in Florida, New York and Washington DC prior to moving to my current location in Montreal, Canada. Being raised in a town surrounded by poverty then, later in life, working on Wall Street, I saw first hand the extremes of wealth and poverty that surround us in society. As a member of the Baha’i Faith, I believe in the elimination of extremes of wealth and poverty and from an early age this was a principle that resonated very strongly with me. Although only a child, I knew that it was not just that so many of those near me were inflicted with such hardships. This principle is what led me to my studies and has shaped the impact that I hope to make.
You mentioned the impact you’re hoping to make. What does that impact entail?
I truly believe that business can be a force for good and has a role to play in helping solve today’s social, environmental and economic challenges. The only way to do this is if the private sector incorporates better business practices into their core. This includes thinking about how to better treat your employees, how to engage with the local community, and how to respect the environment throughout the entire business lifecycle. Honesty, integrity, generosity, should all be qualities that are present in our economic life. Both within SecondMuse and the companies that we help accelerate, I want to support efforts to make change responsibly. This past year I’ve had the opportunity to be more involved with the B Corporation movement and have seen first hand so many different ways in which businesses integrate doing good for the world with doing good for their bottom line. Besides helping the private sector think about its role in society, my next few years are fully devoted to raising my 2.5 year old son and our new baby which will be blessing us with his arrival in late Spring!