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Reimagining Capitalism in Practice: SE Summer Fellow Mitsushiro Mitch Hirai (MBA 2024)

By: Mitch Hirai 08 Aug 2023
Mitch Hirai (second from the right) and colleagues at GLIN Impact Capital.

The HBS Summer Fellows Program enables students to apply their classroom training as they explore career opportunities in roles or regions where compensation is generally lower than the traditional MBA level. This summer, we are connecting with some of our 75 Social Enterprise Summer Fellows, who are working around the world to develop skills and knowledge while having significant responsibility and high impact.

What are you working on this summer?

I am working at GLIN Impact Capital, a Tokyo-based venture capital firm focused on impact and ESG investments. I play a key role in supporting the leadership in two primary areas. Firstly, I am actively involved in identifying potential investment opportunities, with a particular focus on sourcing and screening US startups as GLIN seeks to expand its presence in the US market. Additionally, I reach out to US venture capitals to tap into their networks, aiming to access promising startups aligned with GLIN's mission. Secondly, I leverage my network from previous positions at BCG and Gates Foundation to explore collaboration opportunities for business development. This involves engaging with executives from diverse organizations to present GLIN as a partner for co-investment and projects. Time permitting, I also provide support to the investment and sustainability consulting teams, assisting in deal structuring and delivering projects related to materiality identification, strategy development, and ESG disclosure.

Why did you choose this internship for the summer?

I chose to spend my summer at GLIN Impact Capital due to my strong alignment with its mission and investment approach. GLIN's mission is to “reimagine capitalism for systemic change”, recognizing that traditional capitalism often prioritizes short-term economic gains at the expense of long-term societal and environmental needs, exacerbating global social issues. Simultaneously, economic progress can drive positive change for humanity. Therefore, its investment approach focuses on pursuing both positive social impact and market-rate economic returns simultaneously, aiming to contribute to a society where social issues are addressed alongside the development of financial capitalism.

Coming from a background in strategy consulting and philanthropy, I was intrigued by the opportunity to witness this approach in action. My connection to GLIN was established through HBS Senior Lecturer Brian Trelstad, who taught a required course to my section and happened to be an advisor to the organization. He kindly introduced me to a founding partner Masato Nakamura (MBA 2020) following my section event for job hunting called Rolodex (a shoutout to classmate Nahum Seifeselassie for organizing it!). After engaging in conversations with Masato, I was inspired by the mission and decided to join the team, feeling destined to be part of their transformative vision.

What are your goals for this summer?

On a professional level, my goals for this summer are to deepen my understanding of VC/PE (venture capital/private equity) styled impact investing and impact/ESG (environmental, social, and governance) advisory, bridge my background in strategy consulting and philanthropy/advocacy, and gain hands-on experience at GLIN while contributing to their mission. Additionally, I aim to learn about impact investing policy in Japan and identify areas for building a stronger impact investing ecosystem. Furthermore, I intend to continue exploring social enterprise ideas, with a particular interest in addressing talent gaps in the impact/ESG field.

On a personal level, I have enjoyed reconnecting with many familiar faces, showing my country to HBS classmates through the Japan Trek, and introducing HBS to potential applicants (especially those in difficult financial situations).

How has your MBA skillset prepared you for this role?

The HBS case method has been instrumental in honing my ability to quickly grasp the business models of startups. This skillset has proven invaluable in my role at GLIN Impact Capital, where I am tasked with efficiently sourcing and screening potential investment targets across diverse industries under tight timeframes.

Thanks to the first-year courses at HBS, I have gained a profound understanding of the social enterprise space. Courses like "Social Purpose of the Firm" (SPF) and "Leadership and Corporate Accountability" (LCA) have exposed me to the evolving role of businesses in society and the significance of ESG considerations in investment strategies. This knowledge has given me a well-rounded perspective, enabling me to assess startups' social impact potential in conjunction with their economic viability.

Furthermore, HBS has provided excellent opportunities to develop my networking skills, which have proved critical in my VC work. The HBS network has been an invaluable resource, providing me with access to a wide range of connections and valuable insights that directly contribute to my day-to-day responsibilities at GLIN.

How has the summer influenced your thinking on future involvement in social enterprise?

This summer experience at GLIN Impact Capital has been a significant confirmation of my passion for supporting impactful organizations across various industries. As a result, pursuing a career in impact investing has emerged as one of my top choices after graduation.

Collaborating with GLIN's founding partners has also been truly inspiring, witnessing their pioneering efforts in developing an impact investing ecosystem in Japan. Though my career trajectory remains somewhat uncertain, I am guided by their "first penguin spirit".

Moreover, working at GLIN has enabled me to interact with many colleagues and fellow interns (photo with some of my colleagues - I am the second from the right). I look forward to further building friendships and mentorships with them.

I am immensely grateful for the HBS Summer Fellows Program, which alleviated financial concerns and enabled me to immerse myself in the social enterprise field. The program has played a crucial role in shaping my career aspirations and fueling my dedication to making a positive impact in the world.

How can someone learn more about your organization?

GLIN Impact Capital: