Social Enterprise Institute Alumni Shed Light on Careers in Impact Investing at Collegiate Alternative Investments Summit

By Michael Gallagher 

March 22nd and 23rd saw the sec­ond annual Col­le­giate Alter­na­tive Invest­ments Sum­mit here at North­east­ern.  This year, the CAIS com­mit­tee was deter­mined to incor­po­rate the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute, with an empha­sis on impact invest­ing, an emer­gent area of the non-traditional invest­ing space.   The Sum­mit fea­tured speak­ers from tra­di­tional alter­na­tive invest­ments such as ven­ture cap­i­tal and pri­vate equity, with a con­tin­u­ing theme in the emerg­ing markets.  

On Sat­ur­day, March 22nd, Pro­fes­sor Den­nis Shaugh­nessy led a panel dis­cus­sion with recent North­east­ern grad­u­ates cur­rently work­ing in the space.   Join­ing him was Tim Spit­tle, cur­rently a Lend­ing Ana­lyst at Root Cap­i­tal.  Tim is respon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing ana­lyt­i­cal sup­port to the Lend­ing Team at Root Cap­i­talby man­ag­ing their lend­ing pro­jec­tions model, con­duct­ing port­fo­lio analy­sis, coor­di­nat­ing port­fo­lio data report­ing activ­i­ties and prepar­ing lend­ing per­for­mance met­rics. Prior to join­ing Root Cap­i­tal, Tim worked as a research asso­ciate and teach­ing assis­tant here at the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute. He also worked as a research assis­tant at Esper­anza Inter­na­tional, a micro­fi­nance orga­ni­za­tion in the Domini­can Republic.

Tim dis­cussed the mis­sion and goals of agri­cul­tural lend­ing as a way of fight­ing poverty.  He also addressed sev­eral mis­con­cep­tions about the emerg­ing space of both Social Enter­prise and the Impact Invest­ing space.  Tim addressed con­cepts such as busi­ness mod­els and the moti­va­tion behind for profit against not-for profit busi­ness mod­els and in what sit­u­a­tions each makes sense. 

Also join­ing the panel was Cyn­thia Hurt, a Finance Asso­ciate at New Profit.  As a finance asso­ciate, Cyn­thia pro­vides sup­port to the finance team in han­dling finan­cial admin­is­tra­tion, bud­get­ing, and report­ing.  Cyn­thia told us about her some­what non-traditional path into the space.  After work­ing for over a year at a big four account­ing firm and gain­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as a pub­lic accoun­tant, she moved from a tra­di­tional account­ing firm to the impact invest­ing space, and found more ful­fill­ment within her posi­tion.  New Profit takes phil­an­thropic invest­ment and allo­cates it to social entre­pre­neurs in sup­port­ing their businesses.

The final pan­elist was Catia Sharp, an Eco­nomic and Fis­cal Ana­lyst at the Com­mon­wealth of Mass­a­chu­setts, Exec­u­tive Office of Finance and Admin­is­tra­tion.  Catia spoke about a social inno­va­tion project that she is work­ing on involv­ing social impact bond, a pol­icy that Gov­er­nor Deval Patrick has strongly advo­cated for.  She also spoke about her time here at North­east­ern and par­tic­u­larly the Social Enter­prise Institute. 

This was a unique oppor­tu­nity for the Social Enter­prise Insti­tute to be rep­re­sented in a part­ner­ing orga­ni­za­tion in CAIS and pro­vided a dif­fer­ent type of audi­ence of tra­di­tional finance stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als.  The expo­sure to var­i­ous areas of alter­na­tive invest­ments has been an impor­tant goal of CAIS and after much pos­i­tive feed­back, Social Enter­prise Insti­tute rep­re­sented well and pro­vided an excel­lent topic of con­ver­sa­tion among the CAIS Audience.