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Published: 18 February 2016

Having a global impact without a global infrastructure

Surrey Business School welcomed MBA alumna Sarah De Carvalho MBE, Exec MBA Class of 2014, and CEO of Happy Child International, to a recent MBA Business Breakfast to share her experiences of how the increasing power of technology and global networking is allowing the not-for-profit sector to break down boundaries and have more impact than ever before.

Having worked as a film publicist in California, Sydney and London and then as an associate producer for the BBC before making a move to Sky TV, Sarah founded Happy Child International for street children in Brazil in 1993 and has been a pioneer for children’s rights and justice since.

Championing the importance of sustainable development, Happy Child has helped more than 10,500 street children over the last 21 years across Brazil and Angola.

Sarah, who was awarded an MBE for her contribution to the voluntary sector by the Queen in 2012, spearheaded the global awareness campaign ‘It’s a Penalty!’ against sexual exploitation of children around the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Developing partnerships with local Brazilian agencies, British Airways, the National Crime Agency to name a few and orchestrating a high impact media launch fronted by the likes of Gary Lineker, David Luiz and Alan Shearer, Sarah recognised the importance of cross-agency partnership to create a hard hitting campaign that reached 307,000,000 people  worldwide.

So how did a campaign team of just 5 people reach an audience of over 300,000,000? And how can the campaign message reach even more people as part of the Rio Olympics and Paralympic events in 2016?

As far as Sarah’s concerned, whether it’s in regard to technology, people or organisations ‘it’s all about the network’ and having ‘confidence in your convictions’, principles that are core to the Surrey MBA programme.

And her tips for success?

  • You really can be a ‘small giant’ if you have the right team behind you – social media is a powerful tool if used effectively
  • It’s about connections not transactions – invest in people, get to know them and develop long-term relationships
  • Always think outside the box and make the most of every opportunity – use the connections you have to continue to expand your network and influence
  • Once you have momentum, make the most of it – the impact of social media means that word spreads like wildfire, and  you need to be agile and responsive to this level of digital disruption across all sectors
  • Keep your message simple – just like any other business, communicate your vision, articulate how you will implement it and be clear about how you will measure success
  • And perhaps most importantly, believe in something - whatever industry you want to operate in at whatever scale, harness your passion, be a change agent and have the confidence in yourself to see it through.
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