MLT Rising Leaders Making History: Celeste Faaiuaso
By: Avril Langevine
We at MLT are celebrating Black History Month and Women’s History Month by featuring the accomplishments of some of our more than 4,000 fellows and alumni. These Rising Leaders are blazing a path toward senior management, and thousands more are coming behind them. MLT is proud to support them every step of the way. Both as individuals and through their collective impact, our Rising Leaders are making history every day and leaving a profound impact on their organizations, communities, and industries.
Celeste Faaiuaso (MLT Career Prep ’11) is an Associate at FSG. We talked to Celeste about her transition from the engineering industry to non-profit consulting, the progress she has made during her first year of employment at FSG, and the impact she is working to make on the social sector.
What encouraged you to make a career transition?
“After graduating from MIT, I went into the process engineering industry. I wasn’t really satisfied in my role, and I felt limited at work. I wanted to be involved with social impact and social change, and I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to do. I learned about FSG through a TED talk given by the founder Michael Porter entitled “Why business can be good at solving social problems.” That’s when I really figured out exactly what I wanted to do. I had the thought already, but I just needed to find a home for it.
How did the MLT network help you with your transition to FSG?
“I found out about the associate position at FSG through the MLT Jobs newsletter, so I contacted MLT to let them know I was applying. That led to a phone interview which then led to a Skype case interview. I struggled with these in the past when I interviewed with consulting companies, so I reached out to MLT alumni to get some help with case interview prep. Two alumni were able to help me practice mock case interviews and provided me with study materials.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for MLT. I wouldn’t have had the ‘prep work’ to get the job.
Tell us about your current role at FSG.
“My role at FSG requires gathering information from primary sources including stakeholders and facilitating group conversations. I also conduct secondary research for relevant information then synthesize the information to convey back to clients through presentations. On a personal level, it’s been great to have this opportunity, because it has reinforced the passion that I already have. Professionally I think I’ve grown exponentially. Exponentially is a strong word, but thinking about where I am now — my one-year anniversary at FSG was on Tuesday the 17th — compared to where I would have been if I had remained in process engineering, I’ve made great strides in presentation, strategic and analytical thinking.
What is one example of a project where you felt you were making a difference?
“My most recent project we worked with Trident United Way in Charleston, S.C. . I believe we empowered and built the capacity of our client to be more effective in achieving their community goals. We helped design a system for strategic learning and evaluation. They can use data to inform decision-making and communicate their progress to the broader community. It’s about continuous quality improvement and being able to work in collaborative community efforts.
How do you strive to make history through your career in non-profit consulting?
“The future impact I would like to have is in ensuring high-quality education for all. I want to help make sure there is education equity in at-risk or low-income communities. There are a lot of stakeholders within the education system, and a lot of people have different strategies, efforts, or approaches to solving this issue. I’m passionate about looking at this from the 50,000-foot level, how they all can work within the system to be better aligned and collaborate to bring forth social change. I’m interested in trends and new innovative approaches, helping them work together to converge their efforts and create a collective impact rather having an isolated impact.
“Because of MLT and FSG I am on the right path to gain experiences from different sectors and clients to understand the common obstacles to success people face when trying to make social change, whether from the community, national, or global level. I’m building up my knowledge and utilizing it in different projects. In the future, I’ll be able to develop my firm’s intellectual capital and communicate common themes that work for people. Advocating for collective impact has caught fire for driving organizations working in different ways to come together around an issue in order to see change really made. I will continue to learn, curate, and share knowledge that can accelerate social change in the world.
How has MLT made an impact on your life?
“MLT has been a very life-changing experience. It’s something I’ve been very grateful for. Prior to MLT, I didn’t know the importance of networking, interview skills, or resume review. Participating in the Career Prep program empowered me to build a professional skill set. MLT provided me with another lens into the professional world, and I’ve been able to grow and cultivate professional skills over the years. MLT really came into my life when I wanted to make a job transition. They provided the opportunity for me to assume a role where I could follow my passions. I’m really happy at the point that I am in life and I wouldn’t have been here without the support of MLT.