A simple search on LinkedIn proves that there are no shortages of career opportunities in the field of corporate social responsibility (CSR). And as more companies adopt CSR there will be even more opportunities available. Career options range from CSR Specialist to Social Impact Manager in just about any field that interests you – marketing, politics, media, retail, and many more. A CSR career is a unique opportunity to combine your passion for doing good with an industry that interests you.

“A CSR career is a unique opportunity to combine your passion for doing good with an industry that interests you.” – Click to tweet

Facilitating global offsets

One career option is as a facilitator of a type of CSR called offset agreements where, in exchange for a contract, a defense contractor agrees to make a substantial investment in the country making the purchase. 

Facilitating global offsets – and their cousin "countertrades" – is a career path that many alumni of Thunderbird School of Global Management have pursued, given that it perfectly blends their cross-cultural aptitude, business sense and global-citizen mindsets. One alum, Julie Goodman ‘12, found her passion for offsets and countertrade after graduating from Thunderbird and starting her firm Goodman Global Consulting. The firm’s role is to facilitate the entire offset process, essentially “helping U.S. companies get funding to do business abroad.”

The process goes something like this: Julie discovers what sales are upcoming between a contractor and one of the 60 offset countries. Then she identifies the types of projects the buying country wants investments in. And finally, she targets businesses that would be both willing and able to set up sustainable operations in the buyer’s country.

Contractors involved range from startups to Fortune 500 giants. The better the transaction and result, the more likely the buying country is to work with the contractor again (and the more likely the contractor is to hire Goodman Global Consulting again). But it’s not easy: the process can take years, with many challenges along the way.

Wanted: Relationships and connections

In a panel discussion hosted by Thunderbird, Julie joined three other global offset experts – Andrew Rizley, Michael Rothermel, and Jessie Torres – to discuss their experiences in the industry.

Julie says her success depends on relationships and connections, including the relationships she formed at Thunderbird. Since graduating, she has continued to build relationships inside and out of the alumni network, including through conventions and other networking events.

Andrew Rizley, who is a director of offsets at BAE Systems, similarly describes his position as “matchmaker.” He says he “seeks out what countries are seeking services or products and marries that with [his] company’s capabilities.”  

Jessie Torres, who is an offsets manager at Bell Helicopter, agrees with the term matchmaker. He adds, “You’re also an entrepreneur. You’re looking at a gambit of things dependent on what the country needs. You have to be engaged, you have to be an explorer. Just like an entrepreneur, you’re taking risks and opportunities as well.”

“Success in the global offset industry depends on relationships and connections.” – Click to tweet

Have suitcase will travel

When Julie asked the panel what’s most interesting about their jobs, Andrew said, “You have to be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of nothing. You get a wide breadth but not depth of exposure to many different fields. It’s really fascinating.”

“If you are a globally minded professional with a passion for travel and an entrepreneurial spirit, the offset industry could be for you.” – Click to tweet

Michael Rothermel, who is a managing director for global offset strategy and operations at Roth Global Consultants, says, “Every country, every contract, every situation is different and demands creativity to develop a solution for the project.”

The panelists demonstrated that there are a wide variety of positions and career paths in the global offset industry, from working for defense contractors to consulting firms that facilitate agreements between the contractors and the countries buying from them. Likewise, there is a wide variety of skillsets and experience that make a person a good candidate for the field.

If you are a globally minded professional with a passion for travel, languages, and cross-cultural negotiations--and a desire to put your CSR training and mindset to work--the offset industry could be a rewarding career path for you.