Senior Spotlight: Michael Bakan
By Michael Bakan (MSB’19)
What Martin Luther King Jr. said about church can easily apply to my experience at Georgetown: it’s not just a place I “go to” but rather a place I “go forth from.” Entering as an International Business and Marketing major, I came to Georgetown with a love for storytelling. After hearing about HMFI from a friend, I was initially drawn to the organization’s creativity, shown in its motivation to combine business principles through a lens of social impact to drive value in a market where individuals are easily excluded and often unfairly treated. After joining the Marketing Department, I quickly became fascinated with HMFI’s brand and how it tells its story to motivate clients to seek out our services. Eventually, I served as the Director of Marketing, where I enjoyed the duality of improving my skills as both a manager and as a leader. HMFI has presented me with so many experiences and growth opportunities, and I believe that this value stems from the integrity–the wholeness–of our clients.
As a summer intern for HMFI, where I helped maintain the organization’s internal processes while the majority of our organization was on break, I got to experience how HMFI accompanies our clients. During one evening, I was asked to meet a client to help disburse her first loan with HMFI. This was my first time completing such a task. To my surprise, when we first met, the client’s first words had nothing to do with the logistics of the loan but, rather, conveyed an outpour of emotion, stating, “You have no idea how much this means to me.” This helped to break any barriers and led to a long discussion about how, while her story has shaped her ability to find success in business, it has mostly given her a strong motivation to pursue her current passions and fight for what matters most in her life. This moment helped us both untangle the challenges facing financial services through a lens of empathy.
As a Georgetown student, I’ve realized that the value in HMFI is in accompanying individuals who are far often removed from my own spheres. Sometimes that accompaniment materializes in the form of a loan, but tremendously mutual value is also brought about through listening to people’s stories and empathizing with their frustrations with the financial system. In bringing about these moments, HMFI has helped me better question and articulate how I incorporate my values in my work. In doing so, I now better understand how to ask questions to others to learn their stories to improve a service offering. While I have gained many technical skills through experiential learning at HMFI, when I reflect on how this family has shaped my four years at Georgetown, I am reminded of those who have generously invited me to listen to their story and imagine how creative solutions can bring about scalable value in market-driven systems.