We are proud to be part of the growing Deetken Impact team, and are excited to introduce this diverse and talented group of investment professionals. Each month, we will feature one of our colleagues so you can get to know them better!
Meet Rachel Murphy, recently promoted to Senior Impact and Gender Officer at Deetken Impact. As her title suggests, Rachel drives the implementation of the company’s impact and gender lens investing strategy. With the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Fund, Rachel conducts impact and gender due diligence and monitoring throughout the investment lifecycle. To support companies in achieving business and impact goals, Rachel also leads technical assistance engagements with portfolio and pipeline companies across the region, with a specialty in gender-focused engagements and capacity-building for stakeholders. In addition, to support the growth and thought leadership of Deetken Impact, she oversees the implementation of the communications strategy, develops impact-focused content, and cultivates partnerships.
Rachel is from the United States originally, but has been based in Latin America for the last seven years. She currently lives in Guatemala, in a small city in the western highlands called Quetzaltenango. Prior to joining Deetken Impact, Rachel led the design and execution of acceleration programs at Alterna, Central America’s first Center for Social Entrepreneurship, working directly with a diversity of social entrepreneurs and SMEs to drive sustainable growth and maximize impact. She started her career in management consulting at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston.
How did you end up in this position at Deetken Impact?
My story starts many years ago while studying in the management school at Boston College. As a Jesuit university, social justice permeates the student culture and curriculum, and I became very interested in the intersection of business and social impact. After writing my senior thesis on “Doing Well and Doing Good”, I was determined to develop a career in the impact sector. However, I wanted to first develop analytical skills and joined a strategy management consulting firm. After many long work weeks, I decided to take a year off to go backpacking around Latin America. I traveled from Mexico down to Argentina and Chile, and fell in love with the region, a region so rich in culture, opportunity, resilience, and beauty.
After my travels, I quickly returned to the region to work with Alterna, an organization based in Guatemala that offers a variety of acceleration programs for social entrepreneurs and local businesses. While working at Alterna, I witnessed firsthand the gender inequalities that exist not just in the region but also within the investment sector at large. This was an injustice I could not ignore, and decided to pursue career opportunities with this focus. When I came across the opportunity to work with Deekten Impact, I knew it was a great fit!
What is your favorite part of the work you do, and why?
I absolutely love working side-by-side with company teams to design initiatives that strengthen social, environmental, and gender impacts. As a part of the Ilu Women’s Empowerment Program, I led 15 gender technical assistance projects with portfolio companies. Together, and with the support of local, subject-matter experts, we worked on everything from gender-smart products and services to gender-disaggregated data analysis, women’s mentorship programs, and inclusive governance. There is nothing more exciting than putting theory to work and developing concrete initiatives that will move the needle. Because capacity-building is a core tenant of our technical assistance approach, it is always exciting to see the “aha” moments with company team members when we explore topics such as gender unconscious biases, hard data exposing regional gender gaps, and the immense opportunity that we all have to improve gender-smart business practices.
Rachel has explored Latin America extensively, pictured above hiking the Acatenango & Fuego Volcanoes in Guatemala
What is one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?
From age 6 to 18, I was a competitive Irish Step dancer that competed in the World Championships as well as in other national and international forums. This was a demanding sport that required training 5 or 6 days a week and taught me the importance of hard work at an early age. It also brought me a most treasured group of friends and to all of my first international destinations in places like Ireland, Scotland, England, and Canada to compete with people from around the world. At Boston College, I traded in traditional Jig music for Beyonce, and loved exploring the more creative side of dance choreography and expression. Today, I still love being active but always prefer the outdoors. Living in a country full of volcanoes, I often spend my weekends hiking and camping with friends.
What is your favourite city/country you have visited, and which is at the top of your bucket list to visit?
One of my first extended experiences outside of my home country was when I spent a semester studying in Seville, Spain. It was in that city that my love for traveling and new experiences was born, and I have not looked back since. I then spent my first backpacking trip in Southeast Asia, in which I was immersed in a new culture. And, I can confidently say that every country I have visited in Latin America has captivated me with its people, landscapes, and culture. I cannot pick one country! And, I know there is so much left to explore. I have never visited Africa and would love to visit such a unique region and learn from its people.
You can learn more about Rachel by following her on social media!