One year after On Purpose: where are they now? With Dan Enzer

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One year after completing the On Purpose Associate Programme, we catch up with our April 2022 Fellows to find out what they are up to now. Today, we're delighted to be speaking with Dan Enzer.

Can you tell us about your background and your career prior to On Purpose?

I started my career in economics, working at a boutique economics consultancy after my master's. It was demanding, being forced to work weekends meant I learnt a lot. But I knew I wanted a greater variety of experience, something more values-driven and less intense! I ended up moving to KPMG, which whilst being chiller was more of the same work I had done before. 

Why did you join the On Purpose Associate Programme?

The whole time I was working at KPMG, I was thinking about how I could add more ‘sustainability’ to my role. That came in extra-curricular ways like team presentations and being a ‘sustainability champion’. Meanwhile though, the world was in chaos, with a global pandemic spreading and Australian wildfires raging - so it felt particularly absurd that my main role was making inconsequential spreadsheets until 11 pm. At the time I was also reading ‘This changes everything’ by Naomi Klein which really did change everything for me. I realised that I was wasting my working life on something I didn’t care about. I wasn’t thriving in my work and I wanted to devote myself full-time to making a positive difference. 

However, I found the jump quite difficult. I had a few interviews with consultancies that had an environmental focus, however I was told that I didn’t have the right experience. While researching one of those consultancies, I came across On Purpose. 

I got really excited by the Associate Programme, as I felt it was not only an opportunity to build the experience I needed, but it would also give me the time to figure out what I actually wanted to do and be part of a community of people in the exact same boat as me. To me, the programme had all the ingredients I needed to pivot.


It's been one year since you completed the Associate Programme. What are you doing now?

It’s crazy that it’s been a year already! I feel very lucky to have ‘stayed on’ at my second placement, Altruistiq, an environmental data management platform. A key part of that is measuring the carbon impact of large businesses who are a big part of the decarbonisation problem. I work in the research team and do a lot of thinking around how to make those calculations better, to improve our product as well as refine data transparency and trust. 

Can you tell us more about your placements?

My first placement was at Impact at Urban Health, an organisation that focuses on improving health in inner-city areas, where I was part of the data team. As Partnerships Manager, I was looking after a portfolio of four projects which focused on funding that would reduce missing data, for instance on social cohesion. I hadn’t thought much about health inequalities before, so being exposed to this new area was exciting and insightful and I learnt a lot.

My second placement was at Altruistiq, which is when I joined the research team I'm still sitting in now! Here I worked on a number of projects diving into science-based targets and emissions accounting. 

What’s the most important thing you learnt during your year as an Associate?

I learnt so much! There were the hard skills I acquired through my work at placement but also loads of beautiful mindset shifts I got from the weekly training. I think overall, the most profound lesson was how it all came together: the placements, the training, the cohort, the retreat. 

The programme’s different elements really helped me discover the wider system that I was part of. Why did I feel the need to grind away and keep on succeeding? My metrics of success coming into the programme were very ‘horizon 1’, a mindset of the world which was destroying it. So the big mindset shift I had while on the programme was that it's way better for me to shift into a healthy mindset which will enable me to choose my own metrics of success. And those will definitely include impact but part of making an impact is making sure that I'm healthy, body and mind. 

What support did you get along the way? 

My cohort was (and is!) the core resource I would look to. They are the people you see every Friday, who you have interesting chats with and debriefs in the pub after training. My cohort pushed me and inspired me in many different ways and I came to love them very quickly. 

I also received lots of support from my placements, particularly from Fellows who had either worked on one of my placements or had gotten permanent positions there. They understood my journey and helped along the way.

I also really appreciated the support from my mentors, especially because they were both Fellows of the Associate Programme, so I could be very honest with them. And the support is ongoing as one of my mentors during my time with Altruistiq is now my coach. 

And a big special support shout out to On Purpose’s Tom Christmas who was just amazing <3 

How did you approach finding a job after the programme?

For the last quarter of the Associate Programme, I was thinking about the future. So I was reviewing my CV and looking into different opportunities in the social impact space. At the same time, my heart was pretty set on staying with my second placement, Altruistiq, and I started discussing this with my team about three months into the placement. It then ended up working out with Altruistiq and I even got to co-design my job description!

What do you miss about your old career, and what don’t you miss?

In a way, my old career felt way more structured, for instance in terms of my career progression. There would be a whole map that was set out for you and you knew where you were going to be in three to five years. Now I really don't know. I don't feel like I have a ‘career ladder’ and it's up to me to figure out how to achieve the highest impact. This is kind of cheating as I prefer the open career trajectory now, but there is something nice and simple about having a career ladder. 

I don't miss that everything was high stakes but somehow not important at all. I don't miss the stress and extra weight people put on things that really didn't matter, like a precise format on a chart with imprecise numbers.

What advice would you give to others in a similar situation?

I’d say be very open to change and prepare yourself to completely start again. When you commit to such a big change, you’ve got to be ready to take a risk and be prepared not to go back on the same salary. You’ve got to be ready for your mindset and skill set to change. Ask yourself: am I open and willing to change everything? There are many things that need changing in this world, and oftentimes that change starts with us.