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The humanitarian sector has developed and become more professional, and its needs continue to expand. To consolidate this growth, the sector can rely on the skills acquired at business schools. Several NEOMA alumni have chosen this path. Here is their experience.

“My job is fundraising”

While the humanitarian sector’s activity is focused on people, money remains one of its most useful tools. “My job is fundraising and diversifying the revenue resources for the NGO. It’s very business oriented. You shouldn’t delude yourself. If you don’t raise the funds that you need, there are real concerns about how long the organisation will last. It’s not that much different from what I’ve done up until now,” said Marine Gall (MBA FT Class of ‘89), general delegate for Aviation Without Borders, who worked for a long time in the private aviation sector.

Fundraising in the humanitarian sector is not informal. Sanda Escudé (CESEm Class of ’12), who is responsible for fundraising and marketing at the Doctors of the World NGO, says that fundraising and its use is strictly governed. Depending on the source, money cannot be allotted in the same way. Whatever it is, the donors and investors want the money to be used efficiently with respect for the regulations and visible results.

”We need HR, accountants and managers”

Thus, “the majority of NGOs operate like companies, sharing support functions, especially when there is public institutional funding, with funders that will have reporting requirements,” said Thibault Carrère (MiM Class of ’20), head of the international development project for the Chaine de l’Espoir organisation.

“The only difference is that NGOs do not think about turnover and profitability, but the value added to development. Apart from that, we need HR, accountants and managers because there are HRs, accounting departments and teams to be managed,” said Vincent Javary (MiM Class of ’19), head of financial support for the Acting for Life NGO.

“Knowing how to sell”

Another advantage that a business school graduate can offer to the humanitarian sector is knowing how to sell. “That helps a lot in the field when dealing with people who don’t speak the same language,” said Aurther Lanternier (CESEM Class of ’16), mission head for SOS Christians of the East.

Just like “financial management, project management, and volunteer management. I have management skills due to my time in business school,” said Arthur Lanternier. Marine Gall, general delegate for Aviation Without Borders, also observes that skills acquired during her studies and career are very useful. “I oversaw a lot of airport operational management, and I learned about crisis management and operating contingencies. That gave me a lot of knowledge for later on and certainly for my current job,” she said.

The humanitarian sector has become more professional

Since the humanitarian sector is developing, it’s becoming more professional. Marine Gall said that “before, people used to work seven days a week. Now, they do different hours.” “The donors require that accounts are balanced, which pushes the sector to be more organised, where transparency and professionalism have become requirements,” said Claire Hoang Sperandio (MiM Class of ’96), director of human resources at the International Committee of the Red Cross. “It’s the same thing for the communities that we provide assistance to, because we believe that we also have to be accountable to them.”

Moving towards skills patronage

Another change that’s been observed in the sector, which is similar with the world of private business, is digitalisation. “We really need to become digitalised, whether it is fundraising with CRM or managing databases, we need to optimise our data,” said Marine Gall.

For her, one of the keys to developing the humanitarian sector would be skills patronage, meaning having company, along with tax exemption, provide an employee who can help with a general interest project. It would be a great way to have the two worlds of humanitarian organisations and private companies overlap.


Article appeared in the June 2022 issue of NEOMA Alumni Mag