Public Lab Profiles – A conversation with Joan Hanawi from Lyft

Black and white image of Joan Hanawi from Lyft

The Public Lab is a community of impact practitioners that span across Toronto, New York and San Francisco. It engages today’s corporate impact leaders in a confidential peer community to improve practice through honest stories of success and challenge. From marketers using purpose and partnerships to employee engagement and supply chain pioneers to innovators creating novel forms of civic action and beyond, we recognize that intrapreneurs are paving the road ahead towards a purpose economy. Across North America, we have grown the Lab Community to over 500 practitioners. Prior to COVID-19, we were hosting quarterly, topical events involving a panel discussion from industry leaders followed by open, honest and enriching conversations with practitioners across sectors and functions.

This week, we’re bringing you a conversation with one of our original Lab members from the west coast, Joan Hanawi, Social Impact Manager at Lyft.

What brought you into the social impact space?

My parents are from Indonesia, so I spent a lot of my childhood bouncing back and forth between Indonesia and the States. Seeing the vast differences in what life looks like around the world made me incredibly curious about people. Naturally, that curiosity about people led to a desire to improve the wellbeing of others. After experiments in philanthropy, nonprofits, and government, I wanted to learn more about how to leverage business resources for and align business intent with the needs of society.

What relationship has had the greatest impact on your career?

Every opportunity and experience I’ve had is the result of relationships. I’ve had so many people choose to invest in me and take a chance on me, so I can only hope to pass it forward.

What pivot in your career has left you most surprised?

I never thought I’d be working in tech! I honestly have the dream job right now, so I couldn’t be more grateful that I landed at Lyft, but it was such an interesting journey to where I am now. I’m convinced that those that work in social impact often have non-linear career paths.

What part of your role makes you most excited?

I love the opportunity to build something from the ground-up, so I get very excited about launching programs for the first time.

What accomplishment in your career has left you in awe (or are you most proud of)?

Like I said earlier, my parents are from Indonesia so I’m first-generation in the States. Being part of my parents’ “American Dream” by finding a career that I love is something I’ll always be proud of. And in that career, I’m always awestruck by the fact that I’ve been part of so many cool projects. Most recently, I’m really proud to be part of the founding Social Impact team at Lyft where — with my incredible team — we’ve built the full portfolio of LyftUp programming.

What do you wish others knew about this space?

That old adage that the road to hell is paved with good intentions is more true than people realize.

What do you know to be true now that you wish you knew 10 years ago?

It’s easy to stress about what you could or should be doing, but it’s more important to appreciate the experiences you’re gathering wherever you are currently.

What makes it all worthwhile?

Realizing I’m not alone in my desire to improve the wellbeing of others. From students to executives, it’s really encouraging to see the tide of people interested in creating a positive social impact.

Talk to me about…

Chocolate chip cookies and good food.