“As a mentor, you might not realize how valuable your knowledge is to a social entrepreneur, but, for anybody in business, this is a self-discovery and very rewarding opportunity.” This is what Y&Y Mentor Daphne Huang would say about the Y&Y Fellowship Program to other corporate professionals looking for opportunities to give back through their business knowledge and their time.
Daphne is part of Citigroup’s Lending Product Strategy Team, working within the bank’s credit card business. In the past, she has also worked with deposit and investment products across different departments. She joined the company out of her MBA Management Associate Program at Columbia University, which was also when she was introduced to social enterprises and financial sustainability. Before Citigroup, Daphne was also part of other mentoring programs, which has been a passion of hers since her very first job.
Due to her interests in sustainability and social entrepreneurship, combined with her professional experience, Daphne saw the Y&Y Fellowship Program as a great opportunity to make a positive impact. As a mentor, she was matched with Y&Y Fellows Melissa and Larissa, founders of a sustainable fashion consulting business, Regenerate, which strives to integrate sustainable practices in the global fashion and textile industry, helping brands integrate sustainability within their core; from design, production to end of life.
During the Fellowship, Daphne helped Melissa and Larissa to get closer to their vision. She did so by helping them to set clear goals, combine their strengths and knowledge with the core challenges of the fashion industry, set a clear range of services to be provided to companies, create an effective sales pipeline, and, as a result, become more strategic on how they operate. Regenerate’s growth over the program was visible. The social business became more mature and ready to implement all these new learnings.
The impact of the program was also notable on Daphne herself. She was inspired by Melissa and Larissa’s passion and began reflecting more on the importance of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors for global companies. For her, more and more corporate professionals should understand those factors and incorporate them into their work. If they do so, and if they are connected with social entrepreneurs like Melissa and Larissa, businesses will become more relevant and aware of their role in the world.