Relocation? Moving OnRealignment? Moving DownExploration? Investigating PossibilitiesVertical? Moving UpLateral? Moving AcrossEnrichment? Growing in Place
Home Strategic Talent Systems People Development Practices Individual Career Management

home > client impact: clients | testimonials-case studies | article archives > feb2012

About Us
Why Mastery  
Article Archives

< CLICK HERE to return to the Article of the Month.

Join Us on Facebook Join Us on Facebook!
Tip of the Month

Enduring careers begin with something that tackles important human problems and needs. Sustainable careers require novel and innovative solutions which address current and coming social issues. Sustainable careers, industries and organizations exist and evolve in order to support one or more important human needs. Find a need that drives you. Build your career path around addressing that human need. We hope the people in this article inspire you to do just that!

About the Author
Caela Farren, Ph. D.
, is Founder and President of MasteryWorks, Inc., - a leading Career Development consulting organization offering innovative solutions to large and mid-size companies, including Baylor Health Care, Brown Forman, Northrop Grumman, Reebok, Bayer, Sprint, Sodexo, Sandia National Labs, and CapitalOne. MasteryWorks, Inc., provides enterprise web portals, training, consulting, e-Learning, and an assessment framework for employees and managers. For more than thirty-five years, Dr. Farren has been a passionate leader around complex issues redefining the workplace. She envisioned the current workplace climate fifteen years ago, when she published a cornerstone compendium on career development, “Who’s Running Your Career: Creating Stable Work in Unstable Times” (Bard Press, 1997). Through MasteryWorks, Inc., she oversees solutions that create the foundation for impact-filled “career conversations” - centered on increased contribution, performance, and fit. She is the leading authority of strategic approaches which consistently deliver employee engagement and retention goals for her clients. In her current series, “Facing Changes of the Next Decade,” Dr. Farren describes the most important characteristics of Sustainable Careers.

Visit or contact Tom Karl, Executive Vice President, for more information - or (703) 256-5712

in the Remarkable People series

Article Archives

Send email to a friend
Send Email to a Friend click here for printer friendly version
Address Human Needs and Problems You Care About - The 1st Characteristic of a Sustainable Career   
by Caela Farren, Ph.D., MasteryWorks, Inc.

“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”


When you discover and work on something the world needs, you're on the path to a sustainable career.Find Something the World Needs
When asked how he came up with inventions, Thomas Edison replied, "I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others. I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent [it]." Edison’s view of the inventive process carries over to careers. When you discover and work on something the world needs, you’re on the path to a sustainable career.

For example: Jason Rugolo was concerned about the environment, especially batteries. He went to with his ideas and got funded for his project. Take a look at his video and browse the KickStarter micro-financing website.

You’ll be amazed at how many people are addressing the human needs they really care about and getting others to back them. If you really have a good idea, others will be interested and help you launch it – inside or outside of your organization. Be another Edison.

Take a look at your current work situation to see how well you meet this first characteristic:
  • What is the mission of your organization?
  • What basic human need or needs does your organization address?
  • What do you consider the most important human problems impacting that need?
  • How are or could you contribute to solving one or more of these problems?

Sustainable careers evolve through thinking, problem solving and inventing services and products that will better address an important human need and allow more people to live better lives. Sustainable careers for the next decade will require novel and innovative solutions that address current and coming social issues. There’s lots of work to do and thousands of jobs to be created to do it.

Start by Looking at Twelve Basic Needs
We know all about food, shelter and clothing, but basic human needs extend further. There are twelve human needs that are timeless constants at the center of our human experience. Sustainable careers evolve in order to support one or more of these human needs. The twelve needs are: Home/Shelter, Family, Work and Career, Social Relationships, Health & Well-Being, Financial Security, Learning, Transportation, Environment/Safety, Community, Leisure and Spirituality. These twelve basic human needs propel the evolution of our world and our own lives.
  • Which need piques your interest and resonates within you?
  • Are you working or volunteering in a setting that lets you address this human need?
  • How might you redesign your work to better address this human need?
  • Do you have an idea for a project or service that will solve some of the problems?

Once you have found a basic human need that you care about (and hopefully that's where you're working), you have the foundation for a sustainable career.

Choose a Human Need You Care About
Jacqueline Novogratz chose to address the human need – Financial Security - through business development in Africa. She left Chase Bank, where she was offered a once-in-a-lifetime fast track COO opportunity and created the Acumen Fund as a nonprofit venture capital fund to assist African entrepreneurs. Instead of giving their money away, philanthropists could invest in businesses. The $50 million fund has leveraged another $200 million of capital and created 35,000 jobs. Her job is to find and help manage businesses on the African continent that address the human condition and serve an important need.

One of the organizations supported by the Acumen Fund serves another human need – Health and Well Being. This company manufactures and distributes mosquito bed nets to reduce millions of new cases of malaria annually. She started by making a $350,000 loan to the largest traditional bed net manufacturer in Africa so that they could transfer technology from Japan and build long-lasting nets. Today the company employs thousands of women. It contributes about $600,000 in wages to the economy of Tanzania and is the largest company in Tanzania. “We are producing and distributing with the help of the United Nations seven million nets around the African continent. We’re building on some of the most precious resources of Africa: their women.” See Jacqueline Novogratz's Ending Povertyand Life of Immersion on

Gabrielle Palermo
and three of her classmates at Arizona State University created a project that addressed two human needs – Environment and Health and Well-Being. Palermo converted abandoned shipping containers into medical clinics for use in developing countries. She formed G3Box -- the name comes from "generating global good" - with the idea of designing clinics and selling them to nonprofits and other organizations. The modular, mobile medical units--outfitted with ventilation, insulation, power, potable water and any other services a customer might request--can expand existing facilities, or can be easily transported to disaster zones for use as temporary clinics. "We feel that medical clinics are the biggest need right now," Palermo says, adding that the containers could eventually be used for "any type of social work around the world: classrooms, food distribution units, dental offices--basically anything someone wants." For Palermo, what started as a student project has the potential to turn into a dream career. “Doing G3Box for my future career or starting up other companies that focus on social good is my passion now.” Entrepreneur Magazine, College Entrepreneur of 2011, December 2011. See video -

Build Sustainable Careers within Organizations
You don’t necessarily need to travel the entrepreneurial route to build a sustainable career. Many organizations are building strong foundations for sustainable careers and opening up many new career options that directly respond to important human needs.

Christine Arena, a San Francisco business consultant says an increasing number of corporations no longer use Corporate Social Responsibility for feel-good philanthropy to polish their public image, but as a long-term corporate strategy. Arena and students at McGill University reviewed 75 corporations, including Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Volvo, JetBlue, Patagonia, clothing designer Eileen Fisher and agricultural products company John Deere. They found many are visionary, risk-taking companies that Arena calls "the early adopters, the alphas of the modern business world." The companies are staking their business growth and future on environmental and social goals that address pressing human needs. See, Christine Arena, The High Purpose Company, Harper-Collins, 2007, 295 pp.

Three thriving organizations today are addressing critical human needs and problems while building a platform for sustainable careers for the future:
  • Siemens - has just opened a plant to build wind turbines – giving people access to a burgeoning new field and a face-lift for the town of Hutchinson, Kansas.
  • Sodexo - The Sodexo Foundation and Share Our Strength® launched, an online youth action center that will engage students across the U.S. in the fight against childhood hunger and poverty.
  • Bayer - is exploring the possibilities of personalized diagnostics to deliver personalized medicine.

Think about the sustainable careers these organizations will provide. The secret to success and satisfaction is to connect your innate desire to contribute to others with the current and future needs of society. This could be in finance, transportation, environment, security, energy, education, health or other pressing needs.

Take Action Now
You’ve now reviewed the 1st element of a sustainable career – Address a Basic Human Need You Care About. So, how does your current work situation stack up?
  • Do the mission and strategies of your current organization address a human need you care about?
  • What human needs does it address?
  • What problems or opportunities call to you for solutions or innovations?
  • Are you working in a part of the organization that best addresses these needs?
  • What ideas or recommendations do you have to support innovation – such as new products, services or processes - that will address human need?
  • Who can you talk with for support?
  • How might you redesign your work to solve some of the problems you see?


Client Impact
Strategic Partners
Customer Demos
Contact Us
Browse by Services
Toolkits and Portals

Copyright 2014 MasteryWorks, Inc. Privacy Statement