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Aug 31, 2018

A Summer with Inspiring Capital

“Inspiring Capital facilitates learning, development, and inclusion through impact.”

Having spent a few years working a conventional job, I came to business school to pivot into the social impact space—so hearing those words at a company presentation by Inspiring Capital really peaked my interest. After a few (surprisingly fun!) rounds of interviews, I was thrilled to find out I would be spending 10 weeks as a MBA Social Impact Consulting Fellow with Inspiring Capital in New York City!

Inspiring Capital matches MBA fellows from business schools around the country with organizations that require assistance with projects intended to create sustainable and measurable social and financial impact.

I was paired with a municipal bond insurer based in New York City. My client’s portfolio includes bonds issued by cities, towns and school districts that raise money to serve their local communities’ education, sustainable transportation, water and sanitation needs (amongst others)—these bonds are a natural fit for what is increasingly becoming known as Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) Investing.

 With this as the backdrop, I was tasked to design an ESG metric framework and scorecard for my client—once implemented, my client will use this framework and scorecard to evaluate its current and future portfolio and provide ESG designations. This designation would make investments more attractive to large institutional investors with ESG mandates, thereby increasing fund flow toward projects like renewable energy power plants, wastewater management, energy efficient buildings and transport in communities that need it the most around the country.

I recollect my client saying to me during our introductory call “so Neeraja, we have 4 months before this initiative goes live for our organization but you’re here for only 10 weeks, but there’s a board meeting 8 weeks after you start so we’re looking at getting everything done by then to present to the board." Wait, WHAT?! I had never heard of a municipal bond before—how was I going to pull off this project, and in 8 weeks?!

During my first few days, I felt like a fish out of water; scrambling to read about the industry and start working on my deliverable. As time went by, skills I had acquired during my first year at Tuck came to my rescue—I was able to make sense of what needed to be achieved, created a project plan, divided the project into workstreams and deliverables and held regular check-ins with my manager to ensure that I was on track. Of course, I still hit several roadblocks along the way but the teams at Inspiring Capital and my client organization were always at hand to offer support and guidance.

Before the end of my 10 weeks with the client, my work was presented to the Board and the rest of the team and work is currently underway for the official launch in October. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work on a project that is going to have a lasting, measurable impact on communities across the country.

What’s unique about Inspiring Capital is that once a week, they organize information and networking events with thought leaders in the space; Monday ‘training days’ as Inspiring Capital called them—imagine unhindered access to individuals who work for organizations like Patagonia, the Robin Hood Foundation and DKNY’s sustainable sourcing arm. Training days left me feeling inspired and hopeful about a career where I can do well while doing good.

I had a truly rewarding experience over the summer and I am leaving with memories to last a lifetime—thanks to Tuck GIVES for the support!