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Social justice stays with Spector come May

By Charlotte Aaron

Section: Features

January 27, 2017

People don’t realize how much power businesses have in terms of improving human rights, explained Heather Spector ’17. Spector is set to kickstart her career with a business consulting role at Accenture, “a strategy, consulting, digital, tech and operations” firm, after graduation.

A double major in business and computer science with a minor in Social Justice Social Policy, Spector has transformed from a potential pre-med student upon entering Brandeis to a well-rounded businesswoman with passions for improving human rights globally.

Like many Brandeis students, Spector explored a variety of subjects throughout her first semester on campus. She sampled a biology class, a programming course and even an introductory economics course with an open mind. “I didn’t really know what I wanted to do,” she said, a statement she says still proves to be true—though you wouldn’t know from her clear passion for social justice in business.

It was her sophomore year at Brandeis that she was first introduced to the large-scale impact businesses can have on improving their community and the communities of other companies with which they work. While skimming the ’DEIS Impact College course catalogue, she noticed a course specifically focused on social justice in business.

I learned more about it and realized that’s what I wanted to do in the future, said Spector. Curious, Spector reached out to Brandeis alumni in the field, one of whom introduced Spector to Net Impact, a non-profit organization that teaches and prepares students and young professionals to create social and environmental change in their workplace. Clearly drawn by the mission, Spector founded a Net Impact chapter on the Brandeis campus.

“In was a Net Impact reading list that recommended my favorite book ever, ‘The Evolution of a Corporate Idealist: When Girl Meets Oil,’” said Spector. The book, she explained, was an autobiography about a woman who did a lot for human rights through business.

“I was like, wow, I get it!” said Spector. “People really can respect human rights through business, and you can change systemic issues so corporations … can positively impact human rights throughout their supply chains and throughout the companies they do business with.”

For example, Spector explained, an employer may hold foreign workers’ passports until they complete their work—a human rights abuse. To help prevent this from happening, larger corporations that source materials from these smaller business can say, “We aren’t going to source materials from you unless you align yourself with our code of conduct,” according to Spector.

“That’s probably the extreme example. Usually they try to work with the supplier to try to change their ways,” she explained. “There might be cultural misunderstandings … so you have to understand that too.”

Spector, undoubtedly committed to improving the communities around her, looks forward to volunteer work at Accenture. After being offered a job in mid-November, Spector was invited to Philadelphia to meet coworkers, tour the city and learn more about Accenture. During her visit, she was thrilled to learn about the volunteer work Accenture employees participate in. “Philadelphia in particular is one of their more active volunteer spots, so I know I want to get involved in that,” she said.

While she will no doubt be involved in community service, Spector plans on traveling to clients four to five days a week. A perk of being a consultant, she explained, is the immense amount of miles they earn at hotels and on airlines.

Before being offered the position, Spector went through three rounds of interviews, including a case interview during which she had to analyze a business case and provide recommendations on the spot.

The last two interviews, both over Skype, followed an initial behavioral interview that took place at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Technology Conference. “I recommend anyone interested in technology go,” Spector said. While the conference is expensive, the Brandeis Department of Computer Science helped fund her trip.

“When I found out I got the job, I was really excited! I was surprised because I’ve never done consulting before,” Spector said. As she finishes up her last semester as a Brandeis student, Spector acknowledges that she will miss the Brandeis community and her friends but looks forward to joining the Accenture team and entering the workforce.

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