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Icons and activists

Icons and activists

If your dream is to fulfill a career in a cause or movement, see this section to find out about how these men and women transitioned their careers down the activist route.

If you have an idea that you believe could improve the lives of your community - if not the world - here we unearth the careers of some of the notable social and environmental heroes of today. Lawyers, economists, professors, doctors, journalists, teachers, theologists, social workers, and public servants make a smooth career transition to servicing the wider community. If your dream is to forge a career in a cause or movement, see this section to find out about how these men and women transitioned their careers down the activist route.

Growing the Green Collar Economy

Van Jones

Civil Rights Activist, Attorney & Special Advisor for Green Jobs


Beginning as a legal activist at Yale to Special Advisor for Green Jobs under the Obama Administration, Van Jones’ career is a colourful tale that blends social, legal and ecological movements. At 25, Jones started a lawyer-referral service for victims of police abuse in San Francisco. He is an icon of eco-capitalism and environmental justice in the United States, and his organization has generated real green collar jobs despite a global recession. Jones’ envisions sustainable economic growth through a green collar workforce, and his organization Green For All, is making it happen.



Woman of the White House

Michelle Obama

Lawyer & First Lady of the United States

According to common folklore, behind every powerful man there is a strong woman. And a sense of humor too, it seems. Not relishing her husband’s run for presidency at first, and asked if there was a single thing about campaigning she enjoyed, after some thought she replied that visiting so many living rooms had given her some new decorating ideas. Intelligent and graceful, this Harvard Law School graduate has been an associate of a law firm and sits on the boards of public corporations.


Ideas Worth Spreading

Chris Anderson

Curator of TED & Founder of Future Publishing


Born in Pakistan, Anderson spent his childhood in India and Afghanistan before moving to England. After graduating from Oxford with a degree in philosophy, politics and economics, he spent some time working as a journalist for a pirate radio station in the Seychelles. With meagre personal funding he launched Future Publishing, which he grew to a capitalization of $2 billion and employing some 1500 employees. Anderson then began devoting his time to TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design conference) after acquiring it through his nonprofit organization, the Sapling Foundation. TED publicly release its talks over time and is becoming one of the most influential conferences in the world.

Where Charity Means Business


Jacqueline Novogratz

International Banker, Investor & CEO of Acumen Fund

Novogratz began her career in international banking for Chase Manhattan Bank. However, an eye-opening trip to Africa veered her down a career path less travelled. She gave up her job as a banker to consult for the World Bank and UNICEF. In 2001, Novogratz launched  the Acumen Fund, which now manages over $30 million of investments in South Asia and East Africa. She favors business models over charity, and with husband Chris Anderson (above), her loans are spreading all over the world.


Blood and Gore Go Green

Al Gore

Environmental Activist, Former Vice President of the United States,  Founder of Alliance For Climate Protection & Chairman of Generation Investment 

What does a former Vice President of the United States and previous Chief Executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management have in common? If you guessed passion for the environment, you would be correct. ‘Blood and Gore’ is the nickname affectionately given to Al Gore and David Blood’s Generation Investment Management firm, a sustainability-oriented investment fund. He is also Founder of the Alliance for Climate Protection and his blockbuster documentary, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, effectively mobilised the global cooling movement. Gore's political and environmental activism has earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

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EARLY CAREER: Gen Y, Graduates and Early Careerists

Guy has worked as a business journalist, urban planner, slow food chef, denim salesperson and digital media manager, and shares original insights on diverse Gen Y career experiences.

Guy holds a B. Urban Planning & Development (Hons), has worked in 5 different industries and knows what its like to face the challenge of graduate transition. New career choices, personal branding and balancing passions with money are all part of the mix.

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