About

Perspectives: Driving Social Change

Abigail Falik

Founder & CEO, Global Citizen Year
MBA 2008

Abigail Falik

“The question for me wasn't, "How can I start another non-profit?" but rather, "How do we work across sectors to change a system, engaging each in the most effective way?”

Background

I'd always worked in education and international development and had been driven by wanting to see the social impact in the work that I do. After years in the nonprofit sector, however, I felt like I needed to develop management skills and strategic frameworks that I was not being exposed to in my work. At that point, it was pretty clear that HBS was the right choice given its commitment to preparing leaders to serve across all sectors.

Driving Social Change

The HBS network has been another key factor. My professors, some of whom are now my closest advisors, have been wonderful in connecting me to other leaders across the field—people I might not have had access to otherwise. Courses like Authentic Leadership Development and the Entrepreneurial Manager helped develop my own authentic voice as an entrepreneur by supporting me through the process of rigorously assessing my strengths and weaknesses. My summer field study as an apprentice to John Wood, founder and CEO of Room to Read, provided me with invaluable insights into the opportunities and challenges of leading a fast-growing and results-oriented social venture. Ultimately, my experience at HBS brought me back to a fundamental commitment to myself and to the work I want to be doing in the world.

Impact

Going to business school was an opportunity to spend two years completely out of my comfort zone, and to be pushed by peers who had very different perspectives. The experience clarified my values and commitments while helping me develop a new set of skills which have been critical to my work with Global Citizen Year. In a sense, HBS was a catalyst that has helped me approach Global Citizen Year in a much more ambitious and strategic way—focusing on impact, scalability, and sustainability from our very inception. The question for me wasn't, "How can I start another non-profit?" but rather, "How do we work across sectors to change a system, engaging each in the most effective way? And how do we apply private sector management principles to set up and scale this kind of operation?"