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.