Alex Wang '16

My interest in understanding and addressing social issues dates back to college, when I was involved in the global student non-profit organization AIESEC. I took a gap year to run the international internship program for Chinese students, during which I learned about different social and environmental challenges in developing markets, while helping pair students with nonprofit organizations, and traveling the world. Later, I volunteered at Grameen Bank in Bangladesh, learning about microfinance on the ground. These experiences helped me understand the diverse needs and extremely challenging situations people around the world faced. Meanwhile, I often wondered if traditional business and financial vehicles could be effectively engaged for social objectives, and if double bottom lines could go hand in hand.

When I began at Columbia Business School, I immediately got excited about the Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Fellowship. It was refreshing to learn that a major diversified financial services organization like Morgan Stanley is dedicating resources to explore solutions to environmental and social issues through innovating and mobilizing financial capital at scale. I was also curious about how sustainable investing was incorporated into Morgan Stanley's day-to-day operations, and its real impact. Gladly, I was selected as one of the 2015 Fellows.

For the summer Fellowship, I was with the Sustainable + Responsible Investment Research team in equity research. My team's goal is to collaborate with traditional fundamental equity analysts to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into their analysis, and thus inform and enable investors to understand the impact of sustainability issues on their portfolios. Together with my team, I published a primer on climate change, examining the most investment relevant technological and policy developments, and their implications on company valuations. It was very interesting to see how integral sustainability is to business strategy and operations. It was also exciting to learn how many leading asset managers are treating sustainability seriously, and are taking action to integrate sustainability into their investment decisions through regular conversations with these companies.

Another important component of the Fellowship was learning about sustainable investing more broadly. Through organized educational events, I learned about green bonds, investing with impact in wealth management, and governance engagement in investment management. It was particularly motivating to visit the affordable housing projects in the Bronx that Morgan Stanley helped invest in, where the improvement in the residents' lives was evident.

The Fellowship proved to be a great learning experience that both deepened my understanding of and equipped me with practical tools for sustainable investing. I came out of the Fellowship feeling inspired and enabled to develop a long-term career in this field.

This Fellowship has provided a window to a broader spectrum of opportunities within the sustainable and impact investing, and I hope to pursue a long-term career at the intersection of business and social impact.