Changing careers was daunting, but worth it


Seven years into her career as an engineer, Gina Stuessy decided she wanted to have more of an impact on the world. So she took the plunge, quit her job, and joined animal welfare advocates Animal Charity Evaluators, where she’s currently Director of Operations and works with charities around the world.

Wise is a new way of managing your money internationally for a fraction of the price of a bank or PayPal. This is the continuation of our Lives Without Borders series, in which we speak to people whose careers and lifestyles have transcended borders. If you need to send money, you can join Wise here.

Billions of animals need our help.

Animal Charity Evaluators’ (ACE) mission is to find and promote the most effective ways to help animals. We research advocacy tactics and evaluate charities in order to recommend those that are doing the most good for animals. Our charity recommendations help people understand how they can put their donation dollars to the best use. We also carry out fundraising campaigns on behalf of our recommended charities.

Our philosophy is based on a movement called effective altruism, which is about taking actions that will have the most impact on the world, such as donating to or working on the most pressing problems. That’s why our current recommendations are largely focused on helping reduce the suffering of animals in factory farms.

Changes in the industry’s welfare standards or a reduced demand for meat and other animal products would impact the lives of billions of animals. Despite the enormous amount of suffering that farmed animals endure, this is a relatively neglected cause – less than 1% of donations to animal and environmental charities goes to this issue.

One approach to reducing animal suffering that we're optimistic about is plant-based and cell-cultured meat alternatives, which is the focus of one of our Top Charities, the Good Food Institute. We need vegan options everywhere, not just where vegans go. That’s why, for example, it’s great to see Burger King offer the Impossible Burger.

Animal advocacy is a unique cause because we're dealing with diverse species with different behaviors, lifespans, and lifestyles, and that presents some quite specific problems. For example, are we reducing more suffering by banning battery cages used for egg-laying hens or by banning gestation crates for pigs? How does the life of a cow in a factory farm compare with a life of a salmon in aquaculture? Ultimately, we use all of the knowledge we have available to us in our research to figure out how best to help animals.

ACE offers support to charities all over the world, and we regularly send them donations we’ve received on their behalf or grants we make to support their work. Wise is how we send the donations we collect to charities abroad. Wise gives us a better exchange rate than a bank, which means our recipients end up with more money, no matter where they are in the world. It’s great knowing that we’re able to make our donors’ generosity go a bit further.

It was time for a change.

Before moving to ACE, I’d been on a totally different career path. After working as a software engineer for an industrial imaging company for 7 years, I felt I needed a change.

Around this time I attended the annual effective altruism conference. There was an organisation there called 80,000 Hours (named after the approximate number of hours in one’s career), which gives career advice for people interested in finding jobs that have a greater impact on the world. They spoke with me about my skills and experience, and recommended that I consider a role in operations. Shortly after that, I started an internship here at ACE which eventually led to me taking on the role of Director of Operations.

It was a perfect fit for me, as I’d volunteered heavily in animal advocacy since 2009, and was excited about being involved in effective altruism.

Changing career paths was daunting, but completely worth it. I’m working to advance a large-scale cause that is relatively neglected and has meaning for me. I’d encourage anyone to find work that matters to them and improves the world.

Wise is proud to help Gina and ACE make a difference in the world. We're there to help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily too. Join our 8 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

As told to Chris Hockman, exclusively for Wise. Photography by Kaely C Photography and Tatiana Méndez

If you'd like to learn more about ACE and their work, click here.

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