What skills do you need to make a living while making a difference?

February 21, 2019

Make a Difference

Have you ever thought of turning your passion into a career, but were unsure of where to start? For the past four months, Amani Institute has hosted panels across India, (as we do in other parts of the world): in Delhi, Pune and Bengaluru. We explored this topic from a wide range of perspectives. The social impact sector globally is changing rapidly and includes many different types of organizations from consulting to impact investing to large non-profit organizations as well as social businesses. This means there are a multitude of opportunities for those with established careers in the social sector as well as those looking to make a career transition.

Recently in Bengaluru, we were privileged to have one of our faculty members, Rizwan Tayabali (CEO of Make a Difference), an apprenticeship host, Shantanu Paul (Change Manager at Ashoka), and an Amani Fellow, Bhairavi Prakash (Founder of Mithra Trust) contributing to our panel discussion, with Roshan Paul, Amani Institute’s CEO and Co-Founder as the moderator.

Here are some of the highlights:

What are some of the skills lacking in the traditional education sector that are needed in impact work?

“As a founder, you’ve got to be certain about what you want to do and have data to validate this. You’ve also got to have a network and support system. We’re not taught to ask for help or advice, but it’s important.”- Bhairavi Prakash

“Empathy. Empathy is spoken about a lot, but is misunderstood. I understand it as not only stepping into someone else’s shoes, but also be willing to understand perspectives that are very different from yours. “- Shantanu Paul

“You may notice that what has been mentioned are more personal traits, or what we call soft skills or human skills. It’s actually what sets apart those who are successful.“ – Roshan Paul

How do you see the social sector in India changing?

“Technology has enabled small changes, it doesn’t have to be something big that will change the world but lots of small things. The way that we innovate today includes more access to people like women in India who didn’t have access before. You have to just start doing, at Amani we call this rapid prototyping and it lets us keep trying new ideas.” – Bhairavi Prakash

“The world is vastly different than it was. So, the skill sets we need are vastly different than what we needed 20 or 30 years ago. The traditional NGO model once demanded that you needed to learn one technical skill and keep implementing it. Today, the skills that are required to adapt to this constantly changing world mean that you need things like critical thinking, adaptive and  distributive leadership: taking others along with you.”- Shantanu Paul

“India is the fastest growing social economy in the world. With the 60,000 crores (roughly $84 billion USD) of private money expected to come into the Indian social sector in the next five years, there are new expectations. There will be an increase in foundations, intermediaries, in management of distribution of money and monitoring of what happens with it…..If you’ve been working in the corporate sector, your skills are transferable to the social sector, they may just be called by a different name. But, people want domain experience to make these skills transferable. “- Rizwan Tayabali

At Amani Institute, we are constantly evolving to adjust to this fast changing world and helping people adapt, not by merely reacting, but by proactively building skills they will need. Through our Social Innovation Management Program and customized trainings for organizations, we help thousands of people acquire these in-demand skills such as empathy, inclusive leadership, and effective communication. We also contribute knowledge to continue growing the purpose economy. In 2019, we are excited to host more events on demystifying the social impact sector across India. Save the date for our event in Delhi on April 24th in collaboration with The University of Chicago and Arthan Careers.

Learn more about Amani Institute’s work and our Social Innovation Management Program at


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