“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” – MLK Jr. 

As we ride the wave of youthful ambition, drawing out expansive plans for our futures, and pulling dreams straight from imagination, we should not leave behind altruism. Drive and innovation make the world go round, but empathy keeps it positive. Let us learn from Armaan Ismail, one of our kind-hearted Haasies. Today, he will speak to volunteerism and social impact. These buzz words are more than just shiny attractions on the resume, but rather, represent the rawest forms of love and humanity. 

Tell us about yourself

My major is Business Administration and Political Economy, with a minor in Computer Science and Global Poverty and Practice. On campus, I am President of 180 Degrees Consulting – a social impact consulting organization, the VP of Philanthropy under HBSA, the Vice President of Risk within Greek Life, specifically related to fraternities, and the Executive VP of my fraternity. Career-wise, I want to go into consulting right out of college and then move into real estate investment. My main goal, however, is to become a non-profit executive. In essence, I want to help bolster international development and poverty alleviation in the world.

When did you start volunteering and through what avenues? 

Starting off freshman year, I volunteered through the Berkeley Project and HBSA. I also volunteer outside of Berkeley, through a variety of non-profit organizations. Some of my key experiences include helping host walks and runs to raise awareness for global poverty alleviation, working to build bridges between different cultures, and planning large-scale graduation ceremonies in places around the globe. 

You don’t need to spend hours every week volunteering, start off with something small. Maybe once a week on the weekend. Then start building from there… you have the time to do anything you put your mind to. 

 “Beyond yourself” is a core Haas pillar.. Why do YOU personally believe in the power of giving back? 

My parents have inspired me to give back, and I don’t think I would have been so passionate about community service without their influence. Why do I personally give back? I realize that I have been so blessed to access wonderful opportunities in my life, and I must do my due diligence in this world to make an impact. For me, impact can be on one person or one thing – as long as I am doing something to continue to push forward and make life meaningful, it is a success. Community service has definitely shaped my identity. I hope that, during any time in this life, I won’t be in a situation in which I can’t volunteer or serve my friends or family. I like to make sure people are okay and find ways to do better as a caretaker. I want to continue to serve in this capacity going forward. I have learned lessons beyond the classroom during volunteering, including skills like video editing, large scale production work, communication, leadership and managing teams. When else do you have the opportunity to get on phone calls at 5 am with people from across the world to help solve problems? These opportunities are rare, and you can access them when you serve.  

Do you think the business world should value social impact more? How so? 

Yes. Businesses account for an insufficient portion of U.S. giving. Most of it comes from private donors, and that’s shocking, because businesses make up the entire economic structure of the United States. Businesses should 100% care more about social impact. It is great to see major strides, but it’s not enough. Businesses need to donate and continue to match, and furthermore, inspire their people to give back. Hosting group community service days is also powerful. For example, groups can do a one-day clean up of the beach. A key benefit for businesses is that they have people, and people have time. Non-profits really need time. 

What do you want to see in the world? 

Unnecessary fighting troubles me, and I think peace allows for change to happen more rapidly. People coming to the table is the biggest way to do that. I am also really interested in poverty alleviation and finding ways to help everyone break the cycle. I am particularly motivated to understand how colonialism has affected people internationally till date, and how to amend for its adverse impacts. Honestly, I want to see a lot more peace, a lot more happiness, and a lot more coexistence. 

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