We all have a role in creating a more sustainable and equitable world. The action can be giving away your wealth, like Bill & Melinda Gates do or just making sure we recycle our waste. A few years ago, after spending what felt like a lifetime working in hedge fund operations, I decided I wanted to have a more positive impact on the world. My intention here is not to malign hedge funds (not every fund is like the one portrayed in Billions), I really enjoyed calculating the exposure of esoteric derivatives, but I was ready for a change.
The road from hedge fund operations to impact investing was very challenging and I often doubted if I made the right decision. I went back to school to study Sustainability. The support from my friends & family as well as the professors & classmates kept me moving forward. I got great advice about how to translate my skillsets and was told “go where the work is.” So, when I was offered a fellowship at Capria in Seattle, I accepted.
Every fellow is encouraged to “take ownership” of appropriate action items to help the team meet its objectives. My role at Capria as an operations fellow was to help the team work together in the most efficient and productive way. I worked with the teams both in Seattle and Bangalore to develop best practices for operations and wrote FAQ documents for the digital tools we use. These are the same best practices we share with our local fund managers. During the fund manager “intensive”, I not only had the privilege to see how the fund managers streamlined and improved their pitches, but also provided support to help them learn how to best utilize digital tools so they too can be efficient and productive. One of the fund managers asked me to lead a remote workshop to share the best practices with the rest of their team in South Africa.
Jump in and Be Brave!
Working on a small team usually means that you are not limited to one function. My primary function was supporting operations, but as a fellow I also supported the fundraising and investment teams. I provided research for the fundraising team and I helped the investment team by keeping them on track during the fund manager application process. The best opportunities are often when you recognize a need and just step in to help.
Moving across the country to a city where you know no one may seem very scary. My advice is to “Be brave! You are contributing to making the world a better place! The six to nine months will go by very quickly but don’t miss out on the fun – make new friends, see the west coast natural beauty and enjoy wine tasting in Woodinville.”