Using research to mobilize organizations – The story of Andres Olivares

(Photo: Andres (first from left on bottom row) with his team members)

Social impact can be achieved in various ways. Andres Olivares, who graduated from MUWCI in 2011, illustrates how he used his academic background to assist investors with making informed decisions on social impact investing.

“I have always wanted to work on something that had a broader impact,” reveals Andres. “I am currently working for an organization where I research companies. I analyze different types of indicators such as their services, the gender pay gap, how many women are there in the workplace, whether they have any policies against child labor, etc., and score these indicators. Based on the scores, I recommend to investors which companies deserve investment depending on how motivated these organizations are about making a difference in people’s lives. I am happy to be in a place where I am both working in an analytical field and can use skills which I have gained throughout my career.”

With a background in mathematics and physics, Andres recalls how he decided to transition to the social impact domain early in his career. “I was studying theoretical physics, and I loved the field. But halfway through my PhD program, I realized I was working on abstract theories that might make a difference to the world many years later. At that time, I wanted to work on something which felt more real. Teaching was one example. I loved sharing knowledge with others and seeing how it made a difference. That led me to the decision to use my skills towards something which had a tangible impact on society and people’s lives, eventually bringing me to the realm of sustainability research.”

Andres also credits his early experiences at MUWCI for shaping his interest in community impact. “My sense of curiosity was enhanced at MUWCI because we got the chance to do so many different things,” shares Andres. He adds, “We had a lot of independence, which makes you grow up quickly. Also, exploring and discovering things on your own was very exciting. It was amazing to see how people from different social backgrounds, speaking varying levels of English, lived together in the same kind of houses. I remember one experience in particular where we spent one night with a family in the Mulshi Valley region. Simply living and spending time with them was a great learning experience and a highlight at the time for me.”

Reflecting upon such experiences, Andres shares how studying mathematics and physics at MUWCI motivated him to take up these subjects later at university. “My math teacher at the time used to teach in a different and highly engaging way. In class, we mostly did exercises and sometimes did something completely different from what was mentioned in the syllabus, which kept it interesting. Sometimes, we would also go to the library and use mathematical equations to solve murder mysteries. That was interesting and something I had never experienced before. I also remember enjoying my physics classes because they were quite informative.”

For Andres, the desire to learn more about people and cultures was facilitated by a scholarship which enabled him to attend MUWCI. Andres recognizes the impact of this scholarship in making the UWC experience a reality for him. “Coming from Spain, where public education is mostly free, I was always interested in the experience of living in a different country. My proudest accomplishment was getting the UWC scholarship because, looking back, I did not feel happier and more proud than I was to get accepted into a UWC school. Not only did I gain the opportunity to be in India for a few years, but I also went abroad again for further studies and started my career. There were many things which I ended up doing which would not have been possible if it was not for the scholarship.”

We want to thank Andres for sharing his story with us, and we wish him much success in the future.


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