It was 10 below zero with 2 feet of snow on the ground when the president landed in Moscow.
“I never thought I’d be stuck on a metro in Moscow not being able to speak the language,” said Kelsey Bright, president of Belmont Enactus.
Just three months after the Belmont Enactus team claimed its title as world champions, Bright, 21, flew to Russia to share the accomplishments and vision of the Belmont team with Russian students and delegates at a youth forum.
This championship came after beating out 600 U.S. teams in nationals five months prior. The Belmont Enactus team went on to defeat 37 teams from countries around the world at the Enactus World Cup held in Washington D.C. on Oct. 2, 2012.
Belmont Enactus competes in national and world championships every year to share the success of its community projects with other teams and company executives. The purpose of the organization is to create entrepreneurial ventures and partner with existing non-profits to share sustainable business models in order to benefit the community.
But neither Bright nor the rest of the Enactus team would look at their numerous victories as competitive triumphs. Rather they value the relationships they share with members from teams around the world.
“What made the whole trip absolutely worth it was getting to know the other students,” said Bright, referring to her weeklong stay in Moscow. “We have a common language.”
The common language and passion for developing sustainable social enterprises is not all that connects Enactus members.
Bright and others on the teams around the world have access to a vast array of contacts and Enactus alumni who are willing to offer fellow members a leg up in the business world.
“One of the perks of being an Enactus member is that we have a network,” said Bright. Members can log on to an Enactus website and access exclusive job and internship postings.
“A lot of times when they’re applying for any job, the fact that they were on the Enactus team…speaks volumes to their character, their work ethic and their problem solving abilities,” said John Gonas, faculty adviser for Belmont Enactus.
“We have partner companies that are very interested in empowering our students.”
Some companies within the Enactus network include Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Home Depot and Hershey’s.
But perhaps the most valuable connections are the ones made in person.
“It was really about recruiting us,” said Bright on one all-expenses-paid trip she and two other Belmont students took to New York City to meet with executives of Unilever, one of the top consumer products companies in the U.S.
Following the national championship, members also went on a tour to Wells Fargo in both San Francisco and Des Moines, Iowa to show its winning presentation to CEO’s and upper-management.
Bright is one of the many Belmont Enactus members traveling around the U.S. and the world presenting before top company executives. But some executives are coming to them.
Senior Ayesha Ghaffar joined Enactus as a freshman and played a major role in the organization’s rapid growth and success.
“You have success when your community partner’s expectations match the team expectations…it all really has to come together,” she said.
Everything came together for Ghaffar when one of the 100 business people judging the competition asked her a question in the team’s Q-and-A session during its World Cup presentation.
In preparation for the presentation Ghaffar studied the financials behind the Belmont team’s most successful project, Spring Back, which provides jobs for former prison inmates and homeless people by recycling reusable material from donated mattresses.
“I had a yellow piece of paper and would write down all these figures and calculations,” said Ghaffar. “I hadn’t prepared how I was going to phrase things because I was too busy memorizing all those numbers.”
But when a corporate vice president at Microsoft asked Ghaffar to clarify the details of Spring Back’s finances, she was ready.
A few weeks later, someone at Microsoft contacted her via LinkedIn and asked if she would fly out to its headquarters in Seattle to interview for a position.
Two days in Seattle and Ghaffar had the job.
Bright and Ghaffar’s stories tell only a portion of the success of Belmont Enactus students.
“We created something that works,” said Gonas. “If we can share the wealth and bless other people then we want to do it.”
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