Impact Investing trailblazer Ben Smith on the power of social impact education

Ben Smith shares his vision for impact education at Flinders University and shaping tomorrow's impact leaders.

Ben Smith on the transformative power of impact investing

CSI Flinders had the pleasure of sitting down with Ben Smith, an influential figure in the world of impact investing. Ben serves as an Adjunct at the Centre of Social Impact (CSI) and is the Impact Investing Resident at Flinders University.

Hear directly from Ben as he discusses the exciting momentum in the impact space, the role of universities in shaping the next generation of impact professionals, and the rewarding future of impact education and investing.

There's an exciting momentum in the impact space in Australia, particularly in South Australia. Can you tell us what's driving this movement and why it's such an exciting time to be involved?

Australia is on the cusp of something big in the impact investing space. Historically, we might have lagged behind our global peers, but we’re now in a unique position to learn from past mistakes and accelerate our work. The interest, enthusiasm and momentum we're seeing in this field right is remarkable with new initiatives emerging and collaboration becoming the norm.

Universities, especially institutions like Flinders, play a significant role in bridging academic knowledge with practical experience. How do you see the role of universities in shaping the next generation of impact professionals, and what excites you about it?

The role of universities is critical in this space. What particularly excites me is the opportunity they offer to combine academic expertise with practical knowledge. Flinders, through CSI, is doing an excellent job in achieving this synergy. I'm thrilled to be supporting the organisation in furthering this mission and aiding students who are passionate and motivated to continue making a real impact.

In today's world, there's a growing awareness of the impact of financial decisions. People are increasingly conscious of where and how their money is spent. How does this awareness play into the careers and aspirations of individuals entering the impact field, and why do you believe universities are well-positioned to guide them?

Society is becoming increasingly aware that finance has an impact – whether that’s positive or negative, intended or unintended. As such, recognition of the power that finance has on the world is becoming key for individuals considering careers in impact; more people want to be involved in redefining the role of capital and therein the role of impact investing and related activities. Universities like Flinders are ideally placed to guide and support the next generation of professionals who want to align their careers with their values. This is why qualifications like the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact are so crucial; they blend academic knowledge with practical experience.

You've had the opportunity to work in both the UK and Australia, which allows you to bring a global perspective to the impact field. How does this international dimension enrich the educational experience for students at Flinders, and what sets the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact apart?

The global nature of impact is a unique advantage. Impact knows no borders, and students at Flinders have the opportunity to learn from global peers. I come from the United Kingdom, where impact investment has been at the forefront for many years. Having the ability to travel and witness impact practices in different regions, including North America, Europe, developing countries, and Australia, provides an incredible opportunity to develop life skills while making a meaningful impact.

In conclusion, what makes impact education and impact investing truly rewarding, and what do you think the future holds for this field?

It’s a genuine privilege to work in impact investing and use finance as a tool to support others. There's a sense of fulfillment in knowing that your work has a far-reaching impact. The future looks bright, with more individuals and organisations recognising the importance of making a positive difference. As the world becomes increasingly conscious of the impact of its actions, there's no better time to embark on a journey toward creating a lasting and positive effect on our society and the world.

The interview with Ben Smith was originally published by CSI Flinders.

Study Social Impact at Flinders University

Ben Smith's global perspective and industry expertise contribute to the enriching educational experience available at the university. The Graduate Certificate in Social Impact, bridging academic knowledge with practical experience, sets the stage for the next generation of impact professionals.

Unlock your potential for impact with Flinders University's Graduate Certificate in Social Impact. Join a community of change-makers and learn to design innovative solutions for real-world challenges. Whether you're an emerging leader or an established professional, this program is your gateway to driving positive change in diverse sectors.

Learn more about studying the Graduate Certificate in Social Impact at Flinders University below.