Formally a civil engineer, Ben Sensicle took a career break to search for a job he loved. An AGSM Graduate Certificate in Social Impact helped pave the way for his next move.
Even though Ben Sensicle enjoyed working as a Civil Engineer, he knew it wasn’t the career he wanted long term. When a voluntary redundancy for his role came up, he jumped at the chance to use the time to drive around the country, trying different volunteering opportunities along the way. It was a position with Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, OzHarvest that sparked a new career trajectory.
“I started as a driver collecting donations, but when the team found out about my project management background, they offered me a role as NSW business development manager, before I stepped into the national business development manager role,” Ben said.
It was here that Ben realised how a career in a purpose-lead organisation could fulfill his personal and career goals.
“Throughout the journey with OzHarvest, there were moments of awe as I realised this kind of role was ticking all the boxes. I thought, I'm learning, I feel like I'm contributing, and I’m surrounded by fascinating, capable people that I can collaborate with and learn from,” he said.
“I was being exposed to everything that I wanted from a job.”
Ben’s role in business development was largely operations based and required him to manage key relationships for the core part of the business – food rescue.
“The process side of things is a big challenge for the organisations OzHarvest engages with. The first step in working with them which people really get, is that hearts and minds connection to the charity. But then we also needed to work on aligning internal organisational processes with that of OzHarvest’s,” he said.
“I had to think of it as a workflow problem. How do we get people to prioritise food rescue when they have all these other things to do in their role? What can we do to make their lives easier? And how can we influence them to change their environment?”
While he was doing great things at OzHarvest, Ben’s curiosity to learn more never stopped. He knew he was on the right track with his career shift and was keen to boost his understanding in the sector which led him to the UNSW Business School’s Graduate Certificate in Social Impact.
“A colleague of mine was doing the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact and started bouncing around some ideas about what they’d learned with me. It sounded interesting, so I decided to jump in,” Ben said.
“There were lots of social impact concepts that I felt were directly applicable and relevant in my day to day at OzHarvest and things I was really interested in on a personal level.”
“It opened my eyes up to other opportunities in the sector. While my world was not-for-profit, it showed me that there is so much more out there. It’s also social enterprise, it's consulting, it's corporate responsibility and sustainability,” he said.
He said the exposure to different facets of the sector, as well as upskilling prepares participants to contribute at their current organisation or put themselves forward for the role they really want.
“There’s a whole world of doing good and the program does a very good job of showing you those doors and giving you a few steps through so you can decide which one might be the right one for you.”
Through his studies, Sensicle was able to take what he was learning and apply it directly to his role at OzHarvest, bringing about better outcomes for the organisation.
“In my stakeholder management role at OzHavest, I worked with government and corporate organisations to identify and generate different sources of funding. These relationships rely on collaboration, and the Collaboration for Social Impact subject was really helpful,” he said.
“The learnings were relevant and provided tangible models I can apply directly to any role.”
Another key takeaway for Ben was the exposure to the breadth of mechanisms that are now available to create good in the world.
“The multitude of different ways to make an impact is what excited me the most, and it helped me work out which route I wanted to head down.”
After completing the Graduate Certificate in May 2023, Ben found that new route in social enterprise as Advisory and Projects Manager at The Social Impact Hub.
The Social Impact Hub is a purpose-driven intermediary that helps social enterprises accelerate their capability and impact through tailored advisory and consulting.
“I think I've always been quite curious, but developing my growth mindset also amplified that curiosity muscle in me. I felt like I had contributed a lot towards OzHarvest, and I was excited at the prospect of being able to continue improving and making an impact.”
“At the Social Impact Hub we can jump right in, bringing existing experience through a network of experienced consultants to help social enterprises get through a challenge that might have been preventing their growth. We can help them with their business model, develop a revenue stream – or at the other end, help with impact management,” Ben explained.
As recipient of the 2023 UNSW Centre for Social Impact Board Scholarship, Ben is now able to immerse himself even further into the possibilities of the for-purpose sector, with AGSM’s specialised MBAX (Social Impact). He is confident the MBA will enable him to continue growing personally and professionally, feeding that curiosity that sparked his initial career change.
“My postgraduate studies made me realise that there are so many different ways to achieve good and you don’t have to choose one or the other. You can see this nice Venn diagram where in the middle you can run a business which can have a purpose driven objective, within a financial model where they want to grow, and earn a profit.”
And as he spends more time in the sector, he’s inspired by people’s desire to build businesses that are purpose-driven, while still having big goals to grow and prosper.