Sanya Thapa ’18SIPA

I joined Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) in order to mold my background in finance and energy, as well as my unique perspectives as a Nepalese native, into a career in sustainable investing.

Prior to graduate school, I worked as an energy equity research associate where I developed a strong analytical and quantitative skillset. Analyzing the revitalization of the U.S. oil and gas industry through the shale boom and how it coped with the subsequent collapse in oil prices steeped my interest in the global dynamics that shape local businesses. In addition, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the government inaction that followed drove me to explore how the private sector can strategically and effectively step in to deliver positive impact in areas where the public sector is lacking. In order to learn more about this as well as how the public and private sectors can collaborate to make a difference in people’s lives, I joined Columbia SIPA where I am majoring in economic and political development.

I was excited to have the opportunity to work at the Institute for Sustainable Investing at Morgan Stanley where my skills and passions were brought together. Over the course of the summer, I worked with the institute and community development teams across four main projects where I was able to broaden and enhance my skillset, while gaining a deeper understanding of the sustainable and responsible investing space. I conducted two primary research projects including an analysis of mutual fund performance aimed at debunking the myth that sustainable investing requires a financial tradeoff. This opportunity allowed me to fully deploy my analytical and quantitative abilities to edevelop new research for the Institute. My second project involved developing a framework that will enable investors to incorporate place-based themes into their investments. Finally, while conducting research for two of my other projects, I had the opportunity to partner with colleagues in Morgan Stanley’s Investment Management group, private equity fund managers globally, as well as external partners involved in community development. All of my projects differed significantly from one another making the summer a highly rewarding intellectual experience.

In addition to the knowledge that I gained over the summer, this fellowship has enabled me to think more clearly about my career goals within the broader impact investing space. This is a great opportunity for Columbia students and I hope that future fellows find it just as constructive and rewarding.