Life after 'EBSIPE' - James Dickson

james dickson

Studying for an MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation can be an intense experience. And at the same time as pursuing their studies, our students are also thinking about what’s next – how can they apply their learning in the real world? If they have a sense, as many do, of wanting to ‘make a difference’ in the world, what is the best outlet for this?

To help answer these questions, we regularly invite our alumni back to the department to share their onwards experiences. Earlier this month, we were delighted to be joined by two recent alumni who shared their perspectives on the ‘what next’ question.

James Dickson (who joined us from India via Skype) completed his MSc two years ago, followed by an MBA at the Said Business School in the 1+1 MBA programme. James formed part of a team that reached the finals of the Hult Prize last year, with a project ‘Empower Energy’. The idea was to provide access to clean energy in the most underserved communities in India. Through funding leveraged through the Hult and other successes including the L.E.V8 programme, James and his colleagues are now putting their plans into practice.

James spoke eloquently about the excitement and challenges of social entrepreneurship in his particular setting. After a period of baseline assessments, stakeholder interviews and data analysis, the company is now establishing their long-term growth strategy. They are particularly keen to see impact in terms of economic empowerment for young female small shopkeepers who may not have had the educational opportunities they might have had in a wealthier community.

Current students in the room were keen to find out more about how Empower Energy are using energy as an enabler for other social and economic outcomes, and James was asked if, given all the challenges, it is worth trying to start up an enterprise. He reflected on how he was able to make the most of the networks opened up to him by his time as a student, and how important it is to understand yourself and your personal goals. He confirmed that he looks back at his course materials a lot, and the ways in which these have benefitted his work in India.

Check back next week for our next alumnus story.