When profession meets purpose
- Nilesh Dosa
Nilesh Dosa never imagined that his career would lead him to establishing a mentoring enterprise for youth called icanyoucantoo™. Thanks to EY’s support, the Core Business Services Assistant Director now dedicates part of his time to managing the growing programme.
Tell us about your career at EY and the social enterprise you founded.
I originally began in Advisory at EY and then moved into the in-house Finance team within Core Business Services last year. Right now, I focus on strategic projects, examining investments for example and making recommendations to business leaders based on the analysis
My personal project for the past three years has been icanyoucantoo™, a grassroots social enterprise which helps mentor young people while giving them opportunities to network, learn the practical skills they will need for the working world and get prepared for their future careers.
Why is this cause so close to your heart?
It’s rooted in my own experiences. I felt like a complete imposter when I started my first job in the corporate sector – I just didn’t understand how ‘it’ worked, what the etiquette was or what to expect at formal dinners. I want to inspire youth to go after opportunities that seem out of reach and once their ‘limiting beliefs’ are broken, I want to help them with the skills I know they’ll need. We call ourselves a developed society, but there are children in the shadows of Canary Wharf who believe that they’re not allowed to come into Canary Wharf. This is totally unacceptable and I couldn’t just sit back and ignore it, I needed to do something.
Is that what pushed you to go part-time?
Mostly, yes. I have a neurodegenerative condition called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) Disease, which worsened in the second half of 2016 – and so I wanted to be able to take care of my health – especially since it currently has no cure or medication. But more importantly, I’d already started work in my community and I wanted to pursue it more seriously. Eventually, I came to a solution with my EY team and HR that meant I went down to working three days a week – the transition was really easy and I’m grateful to EY for making it so smooth.
Were there any challenges at first?
It took getting used to. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about what my colleagues would think. Thankfully everyone has been so supportive of me I don’t worry anymore. In fact, I’ve been a pioneer and others are now following suit. I think working part-time and pursuing a side-hustle will only become more common as workplaces evolve. When I speak to the youngsters I mentor, they frequently tell me they don’t want to wait years before working on purpose-based projects that are meaningful to them. They want the flexibility now.
Describe the culture of Core Business Services
It’s great! The work is both challenging and fulfilling. There are opportunities to build a great career with direct access to senior leadership. The amount of support I’ve received for icanyoucantoo™ is a testament to the culture within the team and EY as a whole. It’s an entrepreneurial place but there’s a human side to the business as well. Core Business Services has a real family feel because people frequently work within one of EY’s offices, rather than being out on different client sites, so you engage with them more regularly.
At EY, people are genuinely encouraged to be their true selves and seek opportunities to grow. Many people on my team, and beyond, are involved in icanyoucantoo™. A colleague once told me that “work gives them satisfaction, but the programme gives them purpose.” I’m so grateful they’re a part of this initiative with me, and am looking forward to taking more and more people on our journey.
What skills from your career have helped you with your social enterprise?
My career can be almost split into two chapters: the first was focused on learning and development and the second is now about how I use what I’ve learned to help others. The past 15 years have been a training ground for everything I’m doing now. In the cutting-edge background of banking and finance, I’ve learned how to; work under pressure, manage stakeholders, write and deliver presentations, manage conflicting priorities, coach and more. Had I not done all this, I wouldn’t be able to mentor others.
What’s your advice for people looking to get involved in purposeful projects?
My advice is that you have to start somewhere. Unfortunately, none of us can hit pause on time. If you have the desire to do something, go for it, even if you don’t know where to start. Get involved in causes that interest you and see what happens.