Amanda works on a range of impactful projects around infrastructure, inequality, oceans and data. She founded the Impact Management Project after working at Bridges Fund Management and Volans, and is a non-executive board member for Bethnal Green Ventures.
I studied policy at LSE in 2009, just after the financial crisis. It was clear that the same type of thinking taught for making policy decisions was also applicable for private sector decision-making by stakeholders – which urgently needed to start taking all stakeholders into account. Also, for the social and environmental challenges we face, the roles of investors, business and finance dovetailed nicely with policy analysis. While studying, a small group in my class began the Network for Impact Investing and Social Enterprise (NIISE), which brought in interesting speakers and inspired many of us to work in social impact. I also participated in the first LSE cohort of the Tate International Social Entrepreneurship Scheme in Mumbai, India, which showed first-hand me how corporates have a serious role to play in creating positive impact in the areas where they operate.
While at LSE, I did an internship at Volans (a think-tank/consultancy) on valuing natural capital: showing how I could apply MPA content in the professional world, bridging academia and practice. The internship turned into a dynamic and full-time role; I focussed on the changes big businesses could drive, and how they might work more closely with emerging social entrepreneurs.
When I first worked in impact there was plenty of hype: this brought a lot of talent to the field, and helped me make some of my closest friends and colleagues. But the buzz started to frustrate me. Even though we were all dedicating ourselves to ‘impact’, few people were actually delving into what that meant. So when I moved into impact investment Bridges Fund Management, I started examining the question of ‘what are we talking about with impact, and how are we analysing it?’. I found there was a real need for more substance, and for tracking our expectation and performance. In finance, for example, there’s a convention that helps professionals talk openly about risk, return, liquidity, volatility… where’s that shared understanding for impact?
That’s how the Impact Management Project was born: an initiative aiming to build global consensus on how we measure and manage impact. I support engagement there, as well as helping generally businesses and investors do more good in the world through Heliotropy. I’m also on the board of Bethnal Green Ventures and serve as a monitoring and evaluation advisor to the Board of Private Infrastructure Development Group. I now have a portfolio of projects that allow me to work at both conceptual and practical levels. For example, currently I’m interested in our prevailing investment models, and whether or not they’re fit-for-purpose in a world of rising inequality – I can bring attention and research to this topic while still working on other projects.
If you’re thinking of entering the field of impact, I’d advise you not to wait for the ‘perfect role’, especially in a world where CSR is likely to get swallowed into core business. Get started, use your influence however you can: listen, learn, and constantly check your assumptions. It is on every one of us to work with rigour, accountability, and transparency. No-one ‘owns’ impact: we’re all learning as we go and working to advance best practice. The mentality needs to be one of asking ‘what role do we have to play in understanding these positive and negative impacts – and how can we all do more good and less bad?’
Amanda is happy to connect on LinkedIn.