Aberdeen graduate nominated for social impact award

A former University of Aberdeen student was shortlisted for a prestigious award which celebrates the outstanding achievements of alumni from UK universities.

Mahendran Balakrishnan was shortlisted in the Malaysia Social Impact category of the 2021 British Council’s Study UK Alumni Awards, in recognition of his positive contribution towards reducing youth unemployment and helping refugees and homeless communities.

The Social Impact category shines a spotlight on alumni who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to positively impact the world around them and improve the lives of others.

After graduating in 2016 with an MSc in International Relations from the University, Mahendran returned to Malaysia to work with national oil company, Petronas, before taking on the role of Head of Innovation with SEEd.Lab, a social innovation lab that trains and upskills young people to create their own social enterprises.

In addition to his role at SEED.Lab, Mahendran is also a trustee of YellowHouse Kuala Lumpur, a not-for-profit grassroots community organisation that helps improve the lives of homeless and refugee communities.

Mahendran said: “My experience at the University of Aberdeen was not only enriching but, in many ways, pushed me towards my ultimate passion of contributing to society. It broadened my understanding of social challenges and helped me to evaluate new ways of thinking, which I now share with my students during our coaching sessions at SEED.Lab. By translating all that I learned into sustainable solutions, I have been able to help reduce unemployment among young people in Malaysia.

“The whole experience and journey of studying in the UK was truly inspiring and during my time at the University I saw how people came together to collectively help the more vulnerable parts of society. The University’s multicultural setup and experienced, innovative professors gave me the confidence to go further and inspired me to turn my ideas into a reality and I’m very thankful and humbled that I was nominated for this award. I hope that by sharing my story I can inspire more young people to follow their passion in creating a positive impact for others.”

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