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Monica Rao '10

What is your current job?

I currently work as Operations and Finance Manager at the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN). We are a small non-profit that focuses on regional economic development for the Philadelphia area by supporting and advocating for small, locally owned businesses. My general responsibilities are running the day-to-day operations of our organization- managing the office, writing and managing the organizational budgets, and managing cash flow so that we can meet our expenses. I handle everything from our hiring process to financial reporting.

Why did you choose this profession?

It's possible that this profession chose me- I have always worked on the administrative end of non-profits and small for-profit companies, but SBN introduced me to the financial management side of the organization. I love how this job has given me a lens to understand how organizations are structured and how they run.

What more do you wish to accomplish in your professional career?

I have enjoyed the management aspect of working at a non-profit, and I hope to continue to make this a central part of my career. It's important to me to work for a mission based organization where I can wake up every day and know that what I'm doing has a distinct and vital end goal. What's great about working for a non-profit is that if you ever feel lost, you can look back at the mission and be reminded of why you work this hard every day. That being said, I've realized that organizational development fascinates me much more than program work, and if operations is my strong suit, that's how I'd like to contribute!

Tell us about a decision or change you made that turned out to be a positive career move.

I don't take a ton of chances, and it was difficult to make the decision to move to Philadelphia and start paying rent before I had a real income. However, I learned that it's about showing up- employers want to see your face and know you're committed before even considering you as a candidate. Making that first risky financial decision was the best thing I did for my career. The second best thing I've done so far is take on as much responsibility as I could at my job- more than I was expected to. When I've been able to prove that I can do more than what is expected of me, I've gotten more training opportunities, more interesting work, and more respect in the workplace.

How has Haverford influenced your professional career?

I've been surprised at how much of what I learned at Haverford I'm able to apply to my job. Namely it's data analysis and research design- employers are consistently impressed when I'm able to run a few simple correlations. Leaving college, I thought that I could only apply my Psychology degree if I worked in a lab, but that's really not the case! Now I hope to incorporate that analytical aspect to my career as much as possible. Above all, though, Haverford taught me what critical thinking is, and I am so thankful at the amount of exposure I got to this in numerous fields through my liberal arts degree. The times I've been most successful are when I've asked the right questions. A well placed question turns heads!

The Climbing Stone, by Peter Rockwell '58, is located outside Magill Library.

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