Here at Northeastern there are hundreds of great student organizations to get involved in! We want to highlight some organizations that you may not know, so we’re interviewing members of student organizations to learn a little bit about them and what their club is about. Tune in every week for a new post from The Club Chronicle!
The Club Chronicle Interview #14: NUImpact
Interview conducted on September 7th 2019
What is your name and your position in this organization?
My name is Karan, I’m a 4th year finance major and nutrition minor. Currently im the president of NU Impact, Northeastern’s Impact Investing Initiative.
What does NUImpact do here on campus?
NU Impact has two sides to the organization, one is the fund side and the other is the more club related side. The fund side aims to invest money in the Boston startup ecosystem in ventures that are for profit but also have a social mission attached to it. The club side organizes speaker events, workshops, private breakfasts investors, fund managers, impact investing companies/platforms and other key stakeholders in the sustainable realm to educate students about what impact investing looks like across various asset classes and sectors. We are also hosting the first ever NUImpact conference in Fall 2019. The conference would feature keynote speakers, breakout sessions in the form of workshops, a networking happy hour and an impact investing pitch competition. We are hoping to have about 15 premier schools with Sustainable Investing Funds from the Boston/NYC area attend this conference.
Can you explain what impact investing is?
Impact investing refers to investments made into companies, organizations, and funds with the intention to generate a measurable, beneficial social or environmental impact alongside a financial return. It is done using a double bottom line/triple bottom line approach which simply means investors invest for financial returns along with beneficial social and/or environmental returns. It can be done both in the private and public, private is more common, space across a range of asset classes.
Can you tell me a little more about your upcoming conference?
On the 16th and 17th of November we will be hosting the inaugural NU Sustainable Investment Summit (NU SIS) at Raytheon Amphitheater at Northeastern University. The aim of this conference is to educate, empower and expose undergraduate students to the realm of impact investing across the eclectic range of industries and asset classes through various events including but not limited to: 2 keynote speaker sessions, 4 breakout sessions, 1 career and 1 young alumni panel, a networking session and an inter school impact investing pitch competition.
NUImpact team Fall 2019. Photography by Gauri Ahuj.
Do you have to have any prior knowledge about investing or finance to get involved?
Absolutely not. We love members who come from a varied range of backgrounds and currently represent 7 of 9 Northeastern schools in our leadership team, which consists of 42 members. Two reasons for saying this are we are an extremely interdisciplinary group and there is a lot of learning from peers. Also we look at companies for investment across a range of sectors so the diversity definitely helps with the diligence and research. All you need when you join the team is a willingness to learn and to be a contributing member to the community (being on the leadership team is a big time commitment).
How can students get involved?
There are many ways to get involved. Students are free to come to any and all events during the semester. We have a range of workshops which is mandatory for our leadership team which students are welcome to attend. We also host a speaker series where we have presentations, interactive sessions and intimate conversations with the leaders in the field of Impact Investing both from big and small companies. We host panels to help students in the field of co-ops, internships and other career opportunities. Last but not the least we are hosting our inaugural conference where there will a limited number of tickets for students to attend and interact with some of the leaders in this field for a whole two days at the Northeastern campus. We also have a few surprise events lined up this year which students can find out by following us on our social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram) @NUImpact.The application process to be on the leadership team is pretty simple, though we do recommend students to attend a few events before applying so they have some prior knowledge beforehand.
Do you meet on a regular basis? If so when and where?
We meet quite a bit and much more than an average club at Northeastern.The fund team meets every Tuesday for 2 hours and the E-Board team meets every Monday for an hour. The fund team is divided into 5 analyst team by sectors and each of these analyst teams meet on amongst themselves once a week. We also typically have one event every week and one workshop, which most members of the E-Board and Fund team attend, and a lot of our members are attending external events to increase deal flow, learn more about impact investing or for sourcing speakers. It is a decent commitment because we are planning to invest someone else’s money and we want to make sure we are putting in all the right effort that goes behind doing that
What is your Facebook and Instagram?
Facebook is NU Impact and Instagram is @nuimpact.
NUImpact Team Spring 2018 at Founder’s Day event
What are some examples of past events you’ve done or ones you’ve liked?
Some examples of events we have hosted in the past include a workshop titled ‘Impact Investing 101’ where in we teach the basics of Impact Investing. We have also hosted the Portfolio Manager of Wellington Management’s Global Impact Fund Eric Rice, a clean tech panel with Angel Investor and NUImpact Faculty Advisor Mark Bernfeld, the founders of Sunwealth, the founders of the Digital Impact Investing Platform COIN and many more events along these lines. My personal favorite was a fireside chat with senior leaders from Wellington Management’s Global Impact Fund. It was amazing to learn about how they source their companies, prospect them and measure their impact. The clarity of thought and the humility in conversation of professionals from a trillion dollar company was truly eye opening.
About how many students are involved?
Currently we have about 12 members on our E-Board team and 30 members on our Leadership team. We have about 100-150 active members who attend at least 1 event or more in a month.Till about a year back we did not have anywhere close to the number of applicants to be on our leadership team and active members as we have today.
Do you know why there was such a big increase in applicants?
More and more students from our generation care about the kind of companies they are investing in and that has definitely helped increase the awareness about impact investing. Over the past few years there has also been a significant increase to the assets under management in the field of impact investing. Almost all of the big money managers in the world today have an impact/ESG driven fund or are moving towards having one. Having some of the smartest students at Northeastern on our team and having an amazing set of Faculty, alumni and industry advisors supporting us along with hosting really great events has helped the organization become a very popular student organization at Northeastern University.
How do you go about raising money for the fund?
That has definitely been one of the most challenging aspects. Over the last 1.5 years we have built out a lot of the structural framework that we need to have a fund at Northeastern. These include building a Fund Prospectus, Operating Guidelines, Investment Committee, Advisory Board etc. We are currently working with multiple offices at NU including that of the DMSB Dean’s, the Advancement office, the Office of Alumni relations and even the Office of the General Counsel at Northeastern University to go about fundraising. It has been a huge educational and learning curve while fundraising but we feel we are in ‘line of sight’ of having seed funding secured this semester.
It sounds like a lot has been going on in the last year, how long has your NUImpact been around for?
It’s been around for 3 ½ years. The idea was actually borne out of an impact investing course taught by Professor Sara Minard. We were lucky to have gotten some funding from Mosaic and Thrive. It was only about a year back that we started the analyst program with about 10 students. With time, the organization has become much more established, structured and our programs have become a lot more resourceful and rigorous as we improve every semester.
What is your favorite thing about being involved?
I’ve been asked that before, and my answer is always the same, it’s the people who are a part of this organization. They are one of the smartest, most diverse and hard working people I have come across and the community we have been able to form which I am a part of is my favorite part about being involved with the club. Also being apply all the theory that one learns in a class and actually use it in a practical sense has been a big learning curve.
What’s one thing you wished people knew about NU Impact?
We are extremely interdisciplinary group and very open to diverse perspectives and ideas. If you are a hardworking person and want to be a part of an amazing community of people changing the way people look at Finance and investing money: there can’t be a better cohort at Northeastern. And if you aren’t sure, attend an NUImpact event/conference or get coffee with a member of our leadership team and I am certain you will like what you see. You can make money while making a difference. And you can learn by doing both of the earlier mentioned things. That is the triple bottom line that every NUImpact members has.