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Meet The MBA Fighting Poverty At The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation

Kathryn Svobodny's MBA from the University of San Francisco plugged the gaps in her business knowledge. After graduating, she launched a career in global policy at The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

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Fri May 22 2020

BusinessBecause

The University of San Francisco champions nonprofit organizations 

USF SOM has a history of encouraging people to work in the nonprofit sector. The MSc of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) has been around since 1983, and was the first of its kind in the US.  

Though degrees like USF SOM’s MNA are valuable for candidates specifically looking to enter the nonprofit space, an MBA is just as useful—as Kathryn can attest. She now has the business background to move into more prominent and influential roles within the Gates Foundation. 

What is important, Kathryn says, is establishing a strong network that opens doors to more opportunities when you enter the job market. “USF SOM has a great network, particularly in the local Bay Area,” she says. “Anytime I was interested in a position or company, there would be somebody at USF or an alum who I would be put in contact with.” 


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The MBA gave her opportunities within other nonprofits, before she eventually settled into her role at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Kathryn says she secured an internship as a program manager for the Beneficial State Foundation during her second year on the MBA. This then led to a full-time position for the same organizations State Bank as an operations and IT analyst.  

She worked her way up the ranks over the next six years, continuing to strengthen her network. Kathryn’s drive paid off in July 2019, when she joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. 

Ultimately, working for nonprofits is challenging––tackling worldwide calamities head-on––but the reward of seeing the impact your job has on the world is worth it, Kathryn emphasizes.  

As investment tycoon Warren Buffett once told Bill and Melinda Gates: 'Don’t just go for safe projects. Take on the really tough problems.'  


The lead image in this article is credited to Kjetil Ree under this license