New Student Says Impact Investing is One Idea to Help Change the World

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By Lisa Bailey, Axiom News

Published 11.9.12

Anne Sauer

It’s been said that what’s good for business is good for society. But Anne Sauer, for one, is excited to learn that evidence is turning this notion on its ear, showing that what’s good for society is good for business.

Through her studies at Presidio Graduate School, where Sauer is a new MBA student, she’s discovering data that shows investing in human-impact areas like community development are less risky and has higher returns than those areas seemingly less moral.

“It seems you can do this ethical impact investing and make out,” says Sauer, whose class has also met the founder of HIP Investor Inc., an advisory firm that invests and manages portfolios to seek profit and build a better world. (HIP stands for human impact plus profit.)

“The idea that that evidence is there makes me say let’s share that with the world, let’s change the way people are investing their money, because it will change what types of projects are successful and we need more of that type of project,” Sauer says.

Sauer, who may one day apply for an internship at HIP Investor, is surprised by her interest in finance given her arts and philosophy background. But the opportunity to effect change on a large scale appeals to her.

“Money is important and if you can convince people to spend it in a way you think will have the most positive impact, that’s pretty valuable,” Sauer says.

This type of discovery is what brought Sauer to Presidio. Her interest in operations meant attending business school but she was leery because of what she thought she knew about them. Friends who are also Presidio alumni talked to her about the school and she found kinship with the focus on the good ethics of business.

“It sounded like the type of environment in which I could be happy learning about business since this is a place that believes the best way to run your business isn’t necessarily just to consider short-term gains and profit but you consider the wider impact that your activities have (and) you can actually do a better job and make more money,” Sauer says.

She believes she’ll be exposed to a lot of different types of companies doing work for the greater good, which is important to Sauer because she can connect her personal values to her work.

“I’ve worked in nonprofit previously and I don’t feel like I have to stay in nonprofit, if I’m able to find a for profit company that cares,” she says.

Sauer is inspired by the Presidio community and the “many people with so many cool ideas and things they’re already doing or plan to do.”

“The people I go to class with and the instructors and administrators – everybody’s here for a reason,” she says. “It’s a very self-selecting group of people and everybody is so passionate that it’s really infectious. There’s a real sense of possibility.”

Her career path isn’t clear yet, but Sauer does know she has valuable resources in her classmates and alumni, whom she hopes will be future colleagues and business partners. She’s already worked with a friend and Presidio alumni who, with some friends, has started an organization called Stag Dining Group that’s gaining attention for its underground dinners focused on local art and local sustainable food.

Sauer also looks forward to her next semester at Presidio and participating in an experiential learning project. Students work with companies, nonprofits, and government organizations on sustainability-focused recommendations related to their class study. Sauer knows that some recommendations have actually been adopted so this is an opportunity to not only test what she’s learning but also try to make a difference in how a company functions while still a student — which “is pretty cool,” she says.

This could be a forerunner to a career contributing as a consultant. Bringing her passion, energy, and a sense of purpose to many different people and projects “would be exciting,” she says.

Lisa Bailey, Axiom News

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