MBA sparks Manita’s rewarding not-for-profit career

14/04/2016
It takes an average of 1.5 years of research and contemplation for someone to decide to study a degree. For Manita Ray (MBA 2009), her decision took a lot longer but accelerated a unique career in the not-for-profit sector once she made it.
 
 
“I was researching for years before I decided to do my MBA. It was actually one of my old managers, a Melbourne Business School alumnus, who pushed me over the line,” Ray says.
 
“He said, ‘Manita, with your skillset, an MBA will push to that next level’, and it has.”
 
Ray is now the Australian National Manager for Pollinate Energy, a social enterprise that aims to improve the lives of India's urban poor by providing them with access to clean, sustainable and affordable energy for cooking, lighting and power in their homes.

 
Manita Ray (MBA 2009)

The organisation is making headlines after being selected as the Australian representative in the global finals of Chivas Regal’s ‘The Venture,’ an international competition designed to find the people and ideas that will change the world.
 
Ray said the social enterprise is “grabbing the opportunity with both hands” and hopes to win and use the $1 million prize money to expand and kick off more seed funding ventures in India.
 
“It’s a really exciting time at Pollinate, and I’m so thrilled that Pollinate Energy is involved in the competition but use my MBA and environmental engineering background to make a real and tangible difference to people’s lives,” Ray says.
 
“I remember, when I started my MBA, it was taboo to actually want to pursue a career in the not-for-profit sector. It was very much a case of doing your MBA to become a management consultant, but that wasn’t me.”
 
That perception has very much changed with many MBS students completing internships and securing jobs at not-for-profits, such as The Salvation Army and Social Ventures Australia, Save the Children, Streat and Social Traders.
 
“It goes without saying, but charitiesand social enterprises are businesses, and they need talented, highly skilled people with the business expertise and soft interpersonal skills that an MBA at Melbourne Business School gives you,” Ray says.
 
She is proud that Pollinate Energy is now giving Master’s-level students like her the opportunity to break into the sector through the Pollinate Energy Fellowship and Young Professionals Program.
 
“I was MC-ing a recruitment event while studying at MBS, when I was approached by Graham Brown, who at that time was the head of the Nossal Institute for Public Health. I had introduced myself to him at another event, and he knew that I wasn’t interested in the jobs on offer that night, so he basically created an internship for me. He wanted someone with an environmental engineering and business background and didn’t think he would find anyone.”
 
Ray credits hard work, a passion for using her business skills for social good and her MBA for getting her to where she is now.  
 
“I feel like I’ve won the jackpot. I’ve got a beautiful, healthy daughter and son and my dream job at an organisation that is solving real issues and making a social impact.”
 
For more information on the Chivas Venture or Pollinate Energy please contact Manita on manita.r@pollinateenergy.org.