HOW OUR JOURNEY BEGAN…
180DC Lund started with a question: How can we make a positive difference in society while using the underestimated and idle potential of students? To answer this question, we must take a step back, namely to Frankfurt am Main, Germany. This is the place where I, Frank Schönberg, did my bachelor’s in Economics and Business Administration and where I was part of the 180DC Frankfurt Branch for over three years. Within this time, I enhanced my soft and hard skills, made friends for a lifetime, and helped social organizations to overcome their obstacles to increase the created social impact.
You may now ask yourself: what is 180DC then exactly? It is the world’s largest consultancy for non-profits and social enterprises with over 150 branches in over 35 countries with Lund being now one of them. This means that we are part of a large global network that supports us, on the one hand, but being mostly independent in our operations and organizational structure as an individual branch, on the other hand. Therefore, I exported the idea of 180DC from Frankfurt to Lund, where I am currently doing my master’s in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development, because I wanted to enable students to make the same positive experiences that I have made. At the same time, I saw the great potential for 180DC to flourish in the sustainability and innovation-driven area of Skåne, the south of Sweden. Thus, Lund constituted the perfect location to establish a new branch of 180DC. I pitched the idea to my program and beyond, through which I got myself a competent co-founding team consisting of seven Board Members: 1 President, 2 Marketing Directors, 2 Consulting Directors, 1 HR Director, and 1 Legal and Finance Director. We conducted market and competitor analyses, set up finance, recruiting, and marketing strategies, and came up with an organizational structure that is adapted to the unique Swedish culture. In December 2019, after a multi-stepped application process, we finally received approval from the Global Team for the establishment of the Lund branch which is when our exceptional growth and success story started.
WHAT WE ACHIEVED SO FAR
Within this first semester operating, we attracted many students from different study backgrounds, out of which we picked 10 Consultants via a multi-stage application process. Moreover, we successfully conducted two projects with one NGO and one renewable energy start-up and gained the official legal status as a non-profit organization under Swedish law. On top of that, we managed to establish a partnership with one of the world’s best and largest consultancies which provides our Consultants with various workshops and fruitful mentorships. Moreover, we became part of AF, the Academic Society in Lund, which recognized us as an official student association and provided us with a get-started fund to cover our running costs for the first semester. To maintain long-term financial stability, we have now established a collaboration with Lund University’s Sustainable Future Hub.
Even though we had to face several challenges along the way, with the Covid-19 pandemic being one of the major ones, we managed to steer our organization in the right direction, adapted to the fast-changing environment, and undertook several preventive and reactive measures. For instance, we moved all our operations to an online format which includes board meetings, jours fixes, workshops, team meetings, and mentor sessions while trying to keep up the motivation by including social events, alternating online formats, and sessions for the people to socialize and connect. Despite these circumstances, we decided to increase our social impact and to offer this unique 180DC experience to even more students by drastically scaling up our branch’s operations. In our current second semester, we are conducting four projects as compared to two in the prior semester with 16 instead of 10 Consultants. The clients are two health-tech start-ups, one environmental start-up, and a big Swedish NGO. In times of global crises such as the current pandemic, social commitment, entrepreneurship, and taking action are more important than ever, which is why we are proud to contribute by helping social organizations to overcome their challenges and thrive despite their current hardship.
GET ACTIVE! USE YOUR POTENTIAL! JOIN 180DC!
The world needs you! – It does not matter what you are studying or where you are from, every individual has her strengths and we can help you to improve and use them for the greater cause. One of our key values is diversity because we are convinced that heterogenous teams exhibit enhanced problem-solving capabilities while offering increased personal development opportunities for the individual. This is why in our first semester operating, our organization consisted of members with 9 different nationalities, coming from 6 different study backgrounds of which 78% were master and 22% bachelor students while maintaining a gender balance with 56% female and 44% male students. This is important because we are more than just an organization or a network, we are a community consisting of individuals with diverse experiences that are yet united and driven by the same set of values, headed by social impact and sustainability.
With this being said, I would like to come back to the question stated at the beginning of how we can make a positive difference in society while using the underestimated and idle potential of students. The answer is 180 DC Lund! And by this, I do not only mean the organization itself but the mindset, values, and idea behind it. To make a long-lasting positive impact, we need to rethink society and our human behavior. At 180DC we combine a unique learning experience for students with helping social enterprises to become better at what they are doing so that they can in return help even more people or protect the environment more efficiently – a sui generis win-win-win situation! Therefore, if you are a social organization in need of a student that wants to contribute to a better world, do not hesitate to contact us because we look forward to welcoming you onboard along our journey towards a more sustainable future that has just begun!
Second year master’s student in Innovation and Global Sustainable Development at Lund University. The author holds a bachelor's degree in Economics and Business Administration from Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany. Frank is the Co-founder and President at 180 Degrees Consulting Lund.
Hi everyone! My name is Jessica and I am an International Student at Lund University from Italy. I am currently studying the second year of the Masters in Economic Growth, Population, and Development at LUSEM. Last semester I joined 180DC Lund as a consultant, and now I am currently part of the board as the HR Director.
I am writing this post to give you an idea of what it means to become a consultant for 180DC and the opportunities that 180DC offers to assume more responsibility and become a member of the board.
MY TIME AT 180DC AS A CONSULTANT
In March 2020, I joined the first project cycle of the Lund branch of 180DC. At the time, like many of you reading this blog post, I was not completely sure of what it meant to be a consultant. I joined 180DC Lund to gain insights into consultancy, learn from the organization, and work towards making a positive social impact.
The project cycles at 180DC last for 12 weeks. After the consultants are selected, the board members and the consultants meet for the kick-off event where they get the first opportunity to get to know each other, find out the different teams and projects, and get to know the mentors who will support the consultants with their projects. Our consultants are advised and trained by employees of one of the leading management consulting firms in the world.
I personally really appreciated the opportunity of having professionals helping me and my team in every step of our consultancy project. Our mentors really listened to our questions and ideas and made sure that we had the best tools to complete our project and present it to the client.
The client for the project I worked on was Hello World!, a Swedish non-profit that aims to make digital creation easily accessible to all young people regardless of their background. They do so by organizing coding workshops and summer camps for young students. My team included five consultants, all of us being Lund University students from different countries and study backgrounds. I enjoyed working in this multicultural team immensely – it provided a great way to learn from each other and to strive together to deliver the best results for Hello World!.
My team was faced with the challenges of having to switch to full remote work as well as changing slightly the goal of the project because of the global pandemic. My team and I met in person at the Kick-Off event in March and then never met in person again! We had to get to know each other and learn how to work together over Zoom. It was hard at times but we made it work and managed to deliver our results on time.
The client was very happy and impressed with the quality of our work. I myself was very impressed with how well we handled the challenges that came with working remotely in a team, having to communicate with the client and the mentors via Zoom, and having to readjust the goals of our project because the needs of our client changed due to the pandemic.
BECOMING A BOARD MEMBER
After the Spring semester, I joined the board of 180DC Lund as the HR director. I find this opportunity to be a a great way to challenge myself and get started with a position that allows me to develop skills that I have not previously worked on.
I love being part of the board because we get to see all the projects take off, from the moment we contact the clients and recruit the consultants until the final presentation of the project results. I am looking forward to following the current projects and taking part in the recruiting process for the next consulting cycle when I might meet some of you reading this post!
I hope my story inspires you to join 180DC as a consultant and to even apply for a board position. We are always looking for bright and passionate minds. Don’t worry about being inexperienced about consulting, I was too when I started! 180DC gave me and my fellow consultants all the tools necessary to provide the best deliverables to our clients.
I assure you that if you get out of your comfort zone and try it out you will have an amazing time. I learned a lot about the world of consultancy as a 180DC consultant. Now as a board member I am learning how a student-run organization like 180DC works and how it feels to be on the other side doing the planning, recruiting, organizing events, and finding clients. This all happened during very peculiar times: a global pandemic. However, being part of 180DC Lund both as a consultant and now as a board member in such a difficult time has taught me that teams can work efficiently – even remotely.
That’s it from me.
I hope to see many of your applications in the spring consultancy cycle!
The writer is currently studying in the Master programme of Economic Growth, Population, and Development and has a B.A. in Economics. Jessica has recently joined the board of 180DC Lund as the HR Director.
My name is Manuel and I come from Colombia. As you might already know, I am one of the Marketing Directors at 180DC Lund. But what you might not know is that I am an engineer, a chemical engineer to be precise, and I am studying my master's in Biotechnology. Engineering everywhere!
So, how do I manage to do marketing for a social enterprise with no formal education in marketing? I will tell you!
ENGINEERING OFFERS A DIFFERENT APPROACH
Having a formal engineering education can help to gain that ‘outsider view’ and to come up with different ideas. We engineers are very good at approaching problems logically. Putting it simply, we usually tackle the problem using the “scientific method”.
First, we observe in order to get a picture of what is happening and formulate a hypothesis on why this is happening. Then we make an experiment to solve the problem and lastly, we analyze the results of the experiment. If the results give evidence that the experiment does not work, we adopt a better hypothesis and make another experiment. This goes on until we see good results.
Taken to the context of my Marketing Director position, I develop a marketing strategy and evaluate the effectiveness of it. If it does not work as expected, I change what is considered to be the problem and do it again until the strategy works nicely and effectively. The most appropriate expression for this approach might be “learn from your mistakes”. As a result you will create something amazing!
In a marketing position it really helps to be someone that likes to socialize with other people. Being outgoing and having it easy expressing yourself is handy when communicating your ideas. I have noticed that when writing or creating visual content, there is always a piece of my personality in the result.
Why does it help to be social? Doing marketing is about constantly communicating ideas to people, appealing to their interests, and trying to catch their attention. Making an image or a text ”‘scream” to catch people’s attention is a really interesting and elaborate activity. If you are outgoing and feel comfortable communicating with others, this might come more naturally.
The hard and key aspect for me is expressing something as simple as possible but yet in an attractive and meaningful way. You probably have heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” – well, it is very accurate when it comes to marketing.
TEAMWORK IS THE KEY
Working in a team is the best way to get good results, and currently I work along with Anna. She is a really good writer, read her last post here, and her expertise is in communication. Having someone with this background and experience in the team helps me to spot those undetected mistakes. The so-called cross-checking is crucial when striving for nice content.
A team is essential especially when producing content that represents the values and ideas of an enterprise. People will remember 180DC Lund partially from the way we market this organization, and it is essential that everyone working in it can stand behind our communication. In a team it is easier to come up with new and creative ideas, to innovate.
Going out of your comfort zone and area of expertise might be scary at first but it is the best thing you can do. You will get valuable experience and knowledge while also being able to bring new ideas to the table. It will help you tackle any situation that might come up in the future. Applying to be part of 180 DC Lund and developing my skills in different positions has been one of the most enriching experiences for me so far.
Manuel Alejandro Ruiz Mejia
Master student of Biotechnology at Lund University. The author holds a Bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia. Manuel is one of the Marketing Directors and was a former Consultant at 180 Degrees Consulting Lund.