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Jaime Arroyo: Lancaster native thinking globally to act locally

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Jaime Arroyo, director of impact investment at ASSETS and associate at Work Wisdom
Jaime Arroyo, director of impact investment at ASSETS and associate at Work Wisdom - (Photo / )

Jaime Arroyo is arguably the poster child for millennials' affinity for intertwining a purpose-driven career with positive community involvement.

A Lancaster native, Arroyo works full-time at economic development nonprofit Assets and part-time at consulting firm Work Wisdom. He is also extensively involved in community programs aimed at connecting businesses and under-served neighborhoods of Lancaster.

Arroyo's work in his career and in his community centers on personal and business development with a positive social and environmental impact. The two parts of his life go "hand-in-hand," he said.

After earning his bachelor's degree at Millersville University, Arroyo, now 30, began his career with Fulton Financial Corp. In 2016, he completed his MBA at Drexel University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management.

The Business Journal caught up with Arroyo to chat about his investment in his hometown of Lancaster:

CPBJ: Explain to me your roles at Assets and Work Wisdom. What is The Review Club that you facilitate at Work Wisdom?

Arroyo: At Assets, I lead the impact investment department as well as the social enterprise development for the Great Social Enterprise Pitch. Both areas focus on the idea that business can be used as a force for good to create an ethical and equitable economy for all.

I work with entrepreneurs to get access to capital and training that will help start and grow their businesses. At Assets, we believe in shifting capital to entrepreneurs that focus on the triple bottom line: people, planet, profit. We're the first organization in the nation to pair financing with the B impact assessment, an impact measurement tool that assesses a business' impact socially and environmentally and compares it to its industry peers. This assessment is used for B Corp certification.

Work Wisdom is one of those B Corp-certified businesses. At Work Wisdom, I work part-time to facilitate The Review, a monthly meeting of business leaders who come together to discuss articles and concepts from the most recent issue of The Harvard Business Review. We discuss how we can apply them to our own industries and businesses.

How long have you been with Assets and Work Wisdom?

I've been with Assets for almost two years as an employee. Prior to working with Assets full-time, I worked as a consultant facilitating and teaching its business startup training program called the Learning Circle. I also helped coach the Social Enterprise Pitch participants.

I started working with Work Wisdom this year. I have had the pleasure of receiving coaching from the talented team at Work Wisdom before joining them. I loved the team atmosphere and the care they offer each and every one of their clients. They work magic and help develop the best leaders for our community.

You’re also very involved in your community outside of work. In what areas is your work in the community focused, and how does it relate to what you do with Work Wisdom?

Outside of my career, I also lead a local group of young professionals as part of an organization called Global Shapers, an initiative of the World Economic Forum. This group of 20 "shapers" focuses on developing projects that help solve or bring awareness to issues that we are facing in our community. The Lancaster Global Shapers hub is one of almost 400 around the world with almost 7,000 members.

I also sit on the board of directors for SACA Development, an arm of the Spanish American Civic Association in Lancaster that provides affordable housing and focuses on economic development in Lancaster's Southeast neighborhood.

My work in the community goes hand-in-hand with my work at Assets and Work Wisdom. In both capacities, my job is to help people become better leaders in both business and the community. Not everyone will have a successful business, and not everyone will be CEO, but I have the opportunity to help someone become a more well-rounded human being and a positive force in his or her community.

How does your background in finance, business and real estate inform the work you do today?

I started working in banking at the age of 18 and studied business in college as well as earned my MBA. I'm passionate about business and its role in society. The past decade has allowed me to develop a skill set and knowledge base that allows me to go into my community and do good.

I felt I had achieved what was success early on in my career, but I noticed that the community that I came from in Lancaster wasn't being served. Poverty continued to increase, access to capital became more of a challenge and development was not equitable.

I decided to channel my efforts to build my community. When I joined Assets, I had to make some personal sacrifices, particularly financially, and many didn't understand why. However, it was important to me that the work I did enhanced my community and didn't take away from it.

My work at Work Wisdom allows me to show business leaders new perspectives. This allows for interesting discussion and a lot of "ah-ha" moments. Leaders can go back to their workplaces and help create better environments, better teams and overall, better organizations.

What has led you to build your career here in Central Pennsylvania, specifically Lancaster? Why not somewhere else, or a bigger city? You did earn your MBA at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

I grew up in Lancaster City. When I was in high school I remember most of my classmates talked about leaving for bigger cities with more opportunities. At the time, though, I saw Lancaster as a blank canvas, an opportunity to create the city I wanted to live in.

However, over the last decade, there has been unequal economic development. Lancaster City is a wonderful place to live and work, but not everyone is able to access the same opportunities.

After earning my MBA, I had plenty of employment opportunities in Philadelphia, but I wanted to implement my knowledge and ideas in the community where I grew up and to break down barriers for people with whom I had shared experiences. I also believe there's value in learning global concepts and implementing ideas on a local level.

You recently wrote a piece for CPBJ that outlined the three key values of the next generation of business leaders. How do you think those values - flexibility, mentorship and purpose-driven culture - are assets for the workplace of the future?

Technology, access to information and globalization have created more options for my generation. Whether it's employment or where you want to live, millennials, who are the next generation of leaders, want their careers to match their lifestyles, not the other way around. A workplace that can offer these benefits to their employees will have an advantage over other employers, especially in an area like Central Pennsylvania. High employee turnover hurts organizations and doesn't allow for stability within the organization. By focusing on people, organizations can serve all of their stakeholders more effectively.

What advice do you have for young professionals who want to hone their leadership skills to advance in their careers?

I highly recommend young professionals to volunteer and get involved in their community. This creates an opportunity to learn new skills that they normally wouldn't be able to practice in their workplace. It also gives them an opportunity to lead. Whether it's as president of a club or chairing a committee, you have the opportunity to develop your leadership skills in a low-risk setting.

Also, find a mentor or coach. Investing in my leadership development by having mentors and hiring a leadership coach has paid huge dividends! It's allowed me to brainstorm solutions for different situations and has made me a better leader.

Finally, I would advise all young professionals to focus on building positive relationships. There have been many times where individuals who I worked with in the beginning of my career have circled back to collaborate in my current work. In fact, my positions at both Assets and Work Wisdom came about from relationships I had cultivated before an open position was available. When I accepted those positions, it was like working with friends and family. That's what we should all strive for.

What has been your favorite part of 2018, and what are you looking forward to most in 2019 - at work, in your personal life, or otherwise?

My favorite part of 2018 was The Great Social Enterprise Pitch. I worked with 10 entrepreneurs over the course of six months to develop their business models to incorporate positive social or environmental impacts. Seeing the entrepreneurs that I worked so closely with show the world how they want to impact it was extremely rewarding.

In 2019, I hope to dive deeper into my community. While there are a lot of amazing things happening, there's still a lot of work to be done to make sure that everyone has a shot at living a quality life. I want to see my community thrive, and I believe Lancaster and the broader Central Pennsylvania region can be an example of equitable development for the entire nation. I want to help make it happen.

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Becca Oken-Tatum

Becca Oken-Tatum

Becca Oken-Tatum is the web editor for the Central Penn Business Journal. She also coordinates and writes for CPBJ's monthly Young Professionals e-newsletter. Email her questions, comments and tips at btatum@cpbj.com. Follow her on Twitter at @becca0t.

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