Featured Alumni Cheril von Barsewisch

January 2009


Cheril J. von Barsewisch '03
Commercial Director
Forth Sector

What attracted you to the SEEK Program? If you graduated from Kellogg prior to SEEK being offered as a major, what drew you to courses relating to CSR, social responsibility or nonprofit management?

My passion since 1998 has been to combine using market/business principles and practices to making a difference to people in need. I desired to learn more about all the different ways of doing this and Kellogg had a great reputation of courses and opportunities to help me with this exploration.

What attracted you to the Public Non Profit (PNP) Club, Students for Responsible Business (SRB) Club or Social Impact Club (SIC)?

I was involved in Social Impact, helping organize the Innovating Social Change conferences and majoring in Nonprofit management (as well Finance & International Business). The best way to learn more was to surround myself with lots of others who had done inspiring things and wanted to do more in the future. Hearing their experiences as well as interacting with other alumni was a great way to help me forge my own path for the future. And at the end of the day, it was fun!

What value did you get from your experiences with the SEEK Program, or in courses relating to CSR, social responsibility or nonprofit management at Kellogg?

Great knowledge & skills, good relationships with classmates and professors that I would feel comfortable contacting for help and support, exposure to new ways of thinking or models of doing things.

Have those experiences been helpful to you in your daily life, both professionally and personally?

Definitely. There have been several times that I have gone back to my notes or examples from classes to help with some of my work in terms of strategy thinking or models from which to build up ideas for our businesses. I've also developed training for my staff and external clients based on the things I learned at Kellogg to build their capacity about these types of issues.

What is the name of your current organization, and what does your organization do?

Forth Sector is one of Scotland's leading social enterprises. Forth Sector runs a portfolio of small commercial businesses to create and sustain a breadth and depth of employment opportunities for people with mental health problems. Our businesses (social firms) operate in a range of markets, including tourism, catering, laundry and embroidery services, business consultancy, employment support services, recycling, and manufacturing/retail.

The opportunities provided within these real working environments support people to:

• recover from the impact of their mental ill health

• increase their employability

• regain or retain employment

Please briefly describe your position or role at your organization.

Commercial Director - My role is quite varied and exciting:

1) support the growth and expansion of 6 of our 8 existing social firms by working closely with our business managers in their strategic planning

2) lead on any new business ventures

3) lead the strategic planning process of the organization

4) carry out the impact measurement of the organization

5) deputized for the CEO in his absence

Are you applying the skills/knowledge you learned at Kellogg in your career?

Daily - mostly in how best to manage people & groups. But for the past two years I was also responsible for the finances of the organization - all of my accounting/finance classes came in very handy in terms of delivering better accounting for the organization, working with auditors to produce annual accounts and budgeting. Other really helpful classes that I took at Kellogg that have been super helpful were negotiations, management in non-market environments, and marketing.