My name is Paul Romain, I was an exchange student at Virginia Tech from France, and this past summer I had an incredible 3 months internship at Senda Athletics. Coming from France to study abroad, I decided I would commit my life and time in the US to yet another quest of “ being the change I wish to see in the world”, devoting my frustration and energy to a creative, productive and constructive endeavour of amplifying the “ business for good” global movement. Which led me to the dynamic field of social entrepreneurship, and eventually, to my internship with Senda Athletics.
A typical day at the office working with the Senda team!
I targeted this company and accepted this internship position with a clear goal in mind: getting my first on-the-job, practical work experience in a US corporate environment with a socially-minded, sustainably-responsible startup company. Indeed, I entered the field of business management with ambitious objectives: concerned with the status quo of a globalized business sphere increasingly disconnected from the people and planet, I wanted to learn, improve and implement a strong skill set to change the way business is traditionally conducted. I aspire to join the growing community of change makers willing to use the power of business as a force for good (see B Corporations), designing the best products and services while doing the least harm to the environment and empowering people, communities, and societies around the world. I want to work so that business generates positive impacts more than negative externalities for all stakeholders.
As soon as I settled into my internship with Senda Athletics in the main corporate office, the company’s CEO and my direct supervisor Santiago Halty presented me to the team, showed me around the office, and discussed with me the main missions and goals of this summer internship as agreed upon during the interview that got me hired in the first place. Then, it was clear from the beginning that a good third of my internship would focus on Business Development through the actual increase in sales to maintain the company’s cash flow and increase its market shares. Among the multiple means to achieve that goal, my main focus was on sales calls to prospect accounts, namely soccer specialty stores across the West Coast of the United States. I also got to interact on a daily basis with customer service and support, filing claims and feedback about our products, taking calls from and making calls to potential or actual business partners to supply them with Senda products. While performing this vital task for the company, I acquired a deep understanding of the mainstream audience of the US market for soccer balls.
Talking with CEO of fellow Fair Trade company (and our neighbor) Ben and Jerry’s
Presenting Senda’s products, their quality and competitive advantages, to prospect consumers, clients and accounts have been part of my main mission at Senda, and I got more and more comfortable, week after week, doing that. Building an ongoing marketing campaign on social media channels was the other aspect of the strategy, and I learned tremendously by managing both of these interconnected, synergic aspects of business development and marketing efforts. As I became efficient in these roles, I became a key asset of the company, visited retail stores in person to negotiate partnerships, and discussed pricing, marketing orientations and sales systems with the rest of the team and the company’s executives, which was very empowering and enriching for my skillset and experience
Senda is ultimately a place of action, experiment, and intention. Loyal to the dynamic US business culture, the “try, fail and try again” philosophy is widely embraced at Senda, and it was a deep and rich life lesson to get to immerse myself in such a supportive environment and community. I got to see how much a small, dedicated and passionate team can accomplish just by truly believing in its mission, and by not postponing until later the attempt to apply a concept or an idea in concrete terms. That is obviously radically different from my home culture, the way I have been raised or the general way in which I lived my life so far, and I can already claim that my experience with Senda Athletics changed that forever.
Senda Team at a weekly salad party and pick-up game.