Jenna Stauffer ’18

I came to Columbia Business School to supplement my career in renewable energy with a greater understanding of capital markets and how they can promote innovation and change. I feel fortunate that the 2017 Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Fellowship provided me with hands-on exposure to the intersection of sustainability and finance. Prior to Columbia, my professional career had been exclusively in energy and clean technology. I began my career as an electrical engineer for a global consultancy, where I focused on designing electrical and sustainability systems for large commercial building projects. While there, I advised clients on LEED certified construction and helped to ensure that projects could be powered by on-site renewable sources.

My passion for renewable energy led me to next pursue a corporate strategy role at a large, vertically-integrated solar company. While in this position, I advised top management on a variety of projects, ranging from business due diligence to international pricing and strategy reviews. I also worked to solve business challenges by using technology solutions as the main driver of change. For example, I supported the development of a joint venture that supplied reliable microgrid electricity to remote regions with minimal access to grid-based electricity. This joint venture drastically reduced the reliance on fossil-fuel powered generators, while also providing a compelling return on investment.

These experiences identifying opportunities for profitable, environmentally sustainable and socially beneficial investment led me to business school, where I knew I could focus on expanding my understanding of finance and portfolio management. I chose Columbia due to its track record of providing an excellent foundation in finance, as well as its commitment to sustainability and innovation-focused courses. In combination with the various campus organizations that I am a part of, I knew that the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Fellowship would be an exceptional way to tailor my experience toward my long-term goals and interests.

I spent my summer as a Sustainable Investing Fellow on the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Investing with Impact team. During this time, my main objective was to create a toolkit for foundations seeking to align human capital, market-rate investments and philanthropic capital with mission. Further contributions included analyzing multiple asset managers' financial and impact performance data in order to create client-facing materials, as well as collaborating with both internal and external groups to advance additional sustainable investing goals and initiatives.

This fellowship proved to be valuable for understanding how the power of private capital can be used to create environmental and social impact. It also highlighted the many ways in which Morgan Stanley, as a firm, is focused on sustainable investing. Regardless of industry, sustainability will be at the forefront of many future business decisions, and the Sustainable Investing Fellowship provides an opportunity to see that in a direct way.