Wellington Management Talks About Investing in a Better Future

This post was written by Shari Siegel ’18

According to the Global Impact Investing Network (the “GIIN”), the financial markets will have to provide several trillion dollars annually if the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”) are to be met by 2030.[1]  Thus far, impact investing has been mainly the realm of a small group of institutional and wealthy individual investors, but that situation is now poised for change.  The GIIN’s new framework is calling for impact investing to be “made more accessible by developing new products suited to the needs and preferences of the full spectrum of investors (from retail to institutional) and to accommodate the capital needs of various types of investees.”[2]

The Sustainable Innovation MBA Class of 2018 started Module 4 of its program with a visit from Meredith Joly, Christopher Kaufman, and Quyen Tran from Wellington Management arranged by Professor Charles Schnitzlein.  The Wellington trio came to discuss how the privately held Boston-based investment manager is making impact investing a viable option for a larger pool of investors.

First, A Little Vocabulary.  “Impact investing” differs from “ESG investing.”  ESG investing is a strategy in which investments, usually equity in publicly traded companies, are chosen because the issuers have environmental, social or governance practices that align with the investor’s values; the companies in question may or may not offer products or services that are intended to address social or environmental problems.  (For example, an ice cream manufacturer that is well known for its advocacy of better environmental practices and equality issues may be an ESG investment, but wouldn’t be an impact investment.)  Impact investing is a strategy in which the investor chooses investments with a view to addressing specific social and environmental issues.  The core businesses of the companies that the impact investor invests in are specifically aimed at solving one or more social or environmental problem.  (For example, a healthcare technology company that enables people in remote locations to have “virtual” doctor visits so that they can obtain otherwise unavailable or cost-prohibitive care could be an impact investment.)  The social and environmental issues impact investing usually attempts to address are subsets of the SDGs, including addressing adequate housing, access to education, healthcare, climate, water resources, etc.

Traditionally, impact investing has largely been done through large private investments in private companies.  Such investments would normally be limited to institutional investors or Very or Ultra High Net Worth individual investors (i.e., investors with more than $5 million to invest).  The Wellington team came to talk about how impact investing can be done through selecting publicly traded stocks, bonds and mutual funds, which are much more liquid and have much smaller minimum investment requirements than private equity, thus making such strategies more widely accessible.

The SDGs establish a common language for NGOs (non-governmental organizations), foundations, governments and private investors as they each work in their own ways to solve the world’s most pressing problems.  Supported by its large, centralized research team, Wellington has identified hundreds of publicly traded securities that provide capital for companies and projects whose core businesses and missions address SDGs in one of three impact themes: life essentials (housing, clean water/sanitation, sustainable agriculture/nutrition, and health), human empowerment (education and job training, digital divide and financial inclusion) and environment (alternative energy, resource efficiency and resource stewardship).  As the manager of its own equity and bond funds and subadvisor for third party funds, Wellington monitors and measures not only the financial performance of the securities in its portfolios but also the social and environmental impact the companies and projects are having to ensure that investor goals are being achieved.  This is an example of one more way business is being used as a force for good.

[1]           Global Impact Investing Network, Roadmap for the Future of Impact Investing: Reshaping Financial Markets (March 2018) at 9.

[2]           Id. at 49.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Julia Barnes

Julia Barnes ’18 joined The Sustainable Innovation MBA program after spending the past decade working in progressive politics to further access to affordable healthcare, combat income inequality and take on the growing threat of climate change.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I chose The Sustainable Innovation MBA because I wanted a different MBA experience that approached business and startups from a disruptive, innovative perspective. I don’t feel invested in historical takes on economic growth and was more connected with designing a MBA that connected with my progressive values.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

For me, my favorite part is the challenge. We are capturing all of the content and value of traditional business school, but are always pushed to think about with a sustainable, triple-bottom-line approach. In this way, I find our experience is more inline with the reality of what we will face in applying our MBA and less in simple academic recall.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1.  The commitment is serious. 7 hours a day of class with double the work load of a normal program means you have to take this seriously.

2.  Value your time with your classmates and lean on them to help you get through. You get to know people really well in our module learning teams and those friendships can really help you succeed.

3.  Explore things you never knew would be important to you. I found a significant draw to marketing and impact investing, which was definitely not what I had expected, but The Sustainable Innovation MBA affords you that exposure instead of tracking you into something that may not be your passion.

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

So far, it’s helped me set aside time in my life to clarify my purpose, to make some great new friends and connections, and to find an environment to have a rigorous business education while staying true to my values.

Anything else?

Burlington is the best place to live in the country. Seriously. There really isn’t a place where you can get whatever you could want in a big city in the most beautiful part of the country with all the attraction of a small town. I love it.

Four Clever Ways Packaging Changes Can Help Companies Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

This post was written by Kathrin Kaiser ’18

Sixty-three pounds of plastic, per person, ends up in landfills in the United States. An increased consumer demand for sustainability and the amount of waste coming from disposing packaging makes companies re-think their packaging. They start to incorporate new, sustainable materials and construction methods into their packaging to reduce their impact on the planet. Here’s four clever ideas for companies to reduce their carbon footprint by changing their packaging:

  • Reducing the ink in company logos

Big brands like McDonald’s or Starbucks might be able to save millions of dollars every year and help preserve the planet just by slightly changing their logos. “Ecobranding” is a project by Sylvain Boyer, a French graphic designer, where he demonstrates the impact of this slight change. A simplified version of the logos could save companies 10-39% in ink and result in additional secondary benefits, such as reduced printing costs and a cut in energy consumption.

  • Arekapak

That certain uses of plastic are “evil” is no longer news, not only to environmentalists but also to large corporations. But just banning plastic bags at the register might not be good enough – vegetables and fruits are often shrink-wrapped in plastic, causing tons of landfill. Especially the food industry could benefit from the idea of two female innovators: Arekapak. It is a food packaging alternative, made out of palm leafs and produced with very few water and completely without chemicals. The product is also compostable, heat- and cold-resistant and has a water-resistant surface. And like that wasn’t enough good news, Arekapak packaging serves as a dinner plate, too.

  • Edible Packaging

What if you could eat the packaging off your food instead of sending it to a thousand years of landfill doom? An Indonesia-based start-up called Evoware has developed just that. Evoware is a biodegradable, dissolvable, edible packaging wrap made out of seaweed (which is also packed with vitamins!). The company plans to create several variations of the product for instant coffee, sugar and seasonings – the packaging can then just be dumped into the hot water and dissolves. Another upside is that this product could help seaweed farmers raising their revenue and do something good for the environment: seaweed absorbs a great deal of the carbon dioxide in the sea!

  • Just eliminate packaging completely

“Original Unverpackt” (“original unpacked”) is a Berlin-based supermarket that works without food packaging. Customers just bring their own containers and have those weighed – they only take what they need and the weight of the containers is being subtracted at the register. The entrepreneurial founder- duo wants to reply to the rising demand for more sustainable products and services and alternatives to the “lavish” handling of resources. Similar concepts exist in Austin, Texas (In.Gredients) and London (Unpackaged). Furthermore, Original Unverpackt hopes to make organic food more affordable for people with lower incomes because of the removal of packaging.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Arielle Tatar

Arielle Tatar ’18  left her previous position as Aquatics Director at the YMCA Southcoast to join The Sustainable Innovation MBA program.  She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Image result for Arielle Tatar Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I studied business in college and found it extremely interesting and applicable in daily life. I grew up in a sustainable household where the values of The Sustainable Innovation MBA were lived every day, so it’s always been important to me. Attending this program was a way to bring these two passions together!

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

Although brief, our “Marketing Under Uncertainty” class was extremely interesting to me as I am very interested in marketing. Also, the field trips we have taken to Ben & Jerry’s and Rhino Foods, among other places, offer a real opportunity to see what we learn in action.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1. Be aware of the weekly time commitment. You’re fitting a lot of information into a short period of time, so you’re going to work a lot of hours every week.

2. The faculty are experts in their fields and really want you to succeed. Realize that this program is top notch and take advantage of the opportunities that it gives you.

3. The relationships you build here are strong and with amazing people. I get to go to class every day with some of the smartest and most influential people I’ve ever met and I get to learn and grow from them. We are not a traditional MBA where we compete with each other to survive. We are a family that helps and raises each other up.

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

It has given me so many opportunities to connect with influential business people, as well as learn from top professors. It has also helped me to better understand the issues we face in the sustainability sector and how I can create change.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Robert Hacker

Robert Hacker ’18 joined The Sustainable Innovation MBA program upon completing his undergraduate degree from James Madison University.  He was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I chose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program to gain the tools necessary to make an impact on the world. More specifically, I attended this program because I wanted to learn how I could use business as a tool to increase the impact I could have with my environmental biology degree.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

My favorite part of the program thus far is my practicum project and my classmates. My practicum project is with Propagate Ventures, an alumni-founded (Editor’s note: Harrison Greene ’16) agroforestry and permaculture start-up, which allows me to use my biology background and my newly gained skills from The Sustainable Innovation MBA. This cohort is a great gathering of people with diverse backgrounds with a similar impact oriented mindset, which is a awesome environment to be a part of every day!

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1. This will be one of the busiest, most informative years of your life.

2. Good time management skills are so important in this program.

3. You may never want to leave Vermont after the program.

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

I have learned so much in the past months, from financial skills to people skills. My classmates have taught me just as much as my professors, and I am lucky to be able to learn so much from my them, since I am one of the younger members of the class.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Sarah Healey

Sarah Healey ’18 comes to The Sustainable Innovation MBA after a career in retail management. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I chose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program because I wanted to gain the skills necessary to have a productive role in my family’s business. The program drew my attention because of its small size and focus on sustainability and entrepreneurship.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

My favorite element is the cohort itself. I really enjoy getting to spend five days a week in class with people who have similar interests to me. I feel like the cohort really allows you to develop strong relationships.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1) it is very accelerated! but definitely doable. 2) there are so many support systems in place to help you through the challenging parts of the program. 3) Even when it is busy it is so much fun.

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

The program has helped me in ways I never imagined. It has greatly improved my emotional intelligence and provided me the toolkit to continue to improve  into the future.


“The bloodless logic of the marketplace…”

This article from Politico Magazine highlights how the things we should be doing from an environmental and climate change point of view are becoming more economical (although unevenly), and that it’s the quiet power of economics and business that are driving change rather than politics and public policy alone.

This is a core belief behind The Sustainable Innovation MBA: capitalism, disrupted and reinvented, is a force — along with many others — to solve one of the world’s most pressing problems. We must develop a new generation of business leaders who will build, innovate, disrupt, and reinvent climate change-focused enterprises in a world that demands it. In other words, UVM’s Sustainable Innovation MBA is part of the solution and is more important than ever and its graduates increasingly more vital to sustainable businesses.

As they say, read the whole thing:

My Life In The Elusive Green Economy


(illustration: Politico)

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Liz Ford

Liz Ford ’18 is the founder of the Green Mountain APA Pool League, a franchise of the world’s largest amateur league system.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

In 2011, I starting building a business in Vermont (an amateur pool league that now has close to 400 members) which I am still running. I really enjoyed building a business from the ground up and I’d like to start more businesses in Vermont in the future, but felt that I was missing some of the financial and organizational tools that could really help me prosper in a sustainable way. When I heard about The Sustainable Innovation MBA program, it seemed like an excellent opportunity to learn to approach future projects in the right and ethical way, both environmentally and socially.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

I’ve always loved math, but I’m surprised how much I’ve taken to the finance classes – I’m really enjoying thinking about statistics and probabilities. Completely on the other side of the spectrum, I enjoy anytime I can infuse one of the many presentations that we have to give in The Sustainable Innovation MBA with a little silliness and humor.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

1) First off, there is the intense time commitment that a one-year master’s program entails – some weeks require 40 hours of work and class, but some require close to 80.

2) Given this intensity, be prepared that you will be sharing the full spectrum of your personality, both the good and the bad, with your teammates.

3) In accordance with this, you will have to learn to love giving and receiving feedback!

How has The Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

In addition to all the business tools that we’re learning in class, the social and professional network that we are building for ourselves is substantial. We are creating what will probably be life-long friendships with the other students in our cohort and the depth and breadth of the mentors and connections that the program provides are impressive. We are encouraged to reach out to as many business leaders as we can to conduct informational interviews and it’s really astounding how open people are to talking to students.

Anything else?

This has really been an amazing experience so far. It’s very intense and at times very difficult, but I can already tell that I’ll miss it when it’s over!

Third Base of the Pyramid Global Network Summit, April 18-20, New Delhi, India

Editor’s Note: Professor Stuart Hart, director of external relations and practicums for The Sustainable Innovation MBA, is — in addition to being recognized as a global authority on business strategy and its implications for addressing poverty, founder of the Enterprise for a Sustainable World, which hosts the Base of the Pyramid Global Network Summit.

In 2015, The University of Vermont (UVM)’s Grossman School of Business hosted the 2nd BoP Global Network Summit: “Sustainable Entrepreneurship From The Bottom Up”. We brought together corporate innovators, academics, entrepreneurs, community leaders, students, and BoP Global Lab leaders from more than 16 countries – all on campus at UVM.

This year, Professor Stuart Hart and friends are organizing the Third BoP Global Network Summit April 18 – 20, 2018 at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi, India.

The 2018 Summit will include a field visit to initiatives to experience first-hand some of the leading-edge Base of the Pyramid (BoP) business initiatives in India. The field visit will serve to stimulate discussion and action during the Summit itself.

Companies and ventures cannot succeed at the BoP in isolation. It is in the strength of a strong and mutually aligned network and partner ecosystem including academia, government, development agencies, local entrepreneurs, and NGOs, that business will find the keys to success.

The 2018 BoP Global Network Summit will be focused around three such emerging strategies to more effectively reach and serve the Base of the Pyramid.

The three strategies are:

1) Beyond Environmental Degradation: Toward BoP Circular Economy Strategies

Most BoP ventures and initiatives have focused on the social aspects of sustainability while ignoring or deemphasizing the environment. Looking forward, disruptive new “leapfrog” BoP strategies may hold the key to pioneering a truly sustainable, circular economy.

2) Beyond Pipelines: Toward BoP Platform Engagement Strategies

Most BoP ventures and initiatives have focused on building single­ purpose supply chains and distribution models (pipelines), often with disappointing financial results. Looking forward, platform-based approaches, both cloud enabled and otherwise, may hold a key to building wider and a deeper value.

3) Beyond Selling to The Poor: Toward BoP Market Engagement Strategies

Most BoP ventures and initiatives have focused on developing low cost, “affordable” products and services, only to have them languish. Looking forward developing diverse and creative strategies for engagement and co creation may hold a key to successfully reaching and serving the BoP.

All three strategies hinge on creative ways to build more effective ecosystems and networks.

The objectives of the Summit are to explore the frontiers of these emerging strategies through plenary sessions featuring state-of-the art practice, followed by working sessions to build and accelerate momentum toward making them a reality.

Keynote speakers include Jonathon Porritt – the co-founder of Forum for the Future and Suresh Prabhu, Minister of Commerce and Industry, India, and many more.

See the full speaker line-up here. Sign up here.

Professor Hart’s video here.

Getting to Know the Class of 2018: Shari Siegel

Shari Siegel ’18 came to The Sustainable Innovation MBA progam with an extensive background in law. She was interviewed by Isabel Russell, an undergraduate at UVM.

Why did you choose to attend The Sustainable Innovation MBA program?

I have been a practicing lawyer in various areas of corporate life and a wildly eclectic number of industries (private investments, finance, airlines, manufacturers, software, telecommunications, real estate, mining, retail, etc.).  Much of what I have done professionally has been interesting, challenging, and often fun, and my experience has given me terrific insight into how all sorts of industries and  businesses work and myriad points of view that may come to bear on a question, but I was ready to make a change and to play a different role.

I believe that business can be a powerful force for good in the world when long-term thinking is put into practice, and I want to be among those who are making that happen.  I really wanted to be able to live a more integrated life.  My professional life has accommodated, but not usually incorporated, other aspects of my life that I am passionate about: building community; creating opportunity for aspiring artists and professionals; and promoting ethical stewardship of our environment and natural resources. Those activities have been limited to volunteering in my “spare” time.

For my “next act,” I’m exploring the use of capital investment and the creation and implementation of long-term business strategies to further creating or contributing to a healthy, sustainable business environment with ample career (not just job) opportunities for those who want them.  The Sustainable Innovation MBA program was a perfect opportunity to take the skills and experience I came to the program with and add new skills and perspectives that will allow me to pivot to a satisfying next step.  The insights I get from my professors and fellow students about aspects of business life that have been outside my focus or areas of responsibility are fascinating, and the opportunity to talk to members of the Vermont business community has been invaluable.  UVM has a robust network that is affording me a terrific opportunity to talk to people about various opportunities to put my new and old skills to work in the way I want to.

What has been your favorite part/element of the program thus far?

The exposure to all of the people who have been working in fields that are very different from my own and living in other places.  Sharing experiences is enlightening.  Variety truly is the spice of life.

What are three things someone considering the program should be aware of?

Expect to work really, really hard–this program crams a lot of content into one year, and the students who are in the program are serious about their learning experience.  That said, we have some pretty extraordinary professors who go above and beyond to make sure we’re really learning the material; a few have even given up some of their own free days to offer extra classes for us.

Teamwork is crucial.

If you come visit us this year and see the construction we’re living through, don’t worry: it’s supposed to be over for the next cohort.

How has the Sustainable Innovation MBA helped you?

It has made me really excited about the possibilities out there.  We’ve also gotten to meet current professionals working in areas we’re studying, tour numerous local businesses and engage in conferences of interest.