Steering Wealth Towards Sustainable Investing
Sustainability Management student Dazzle Bhujwala has over 15 years of global Wealth Management experience with leading international banks. Over the years, he has advised Sovereign Wealth Funds on their global multi-asset portfolios and millionaires through their journey of wealth accumulation, preservation, and succession. Dazzle was drawn to the SUMA program, as he is committed to leveraging his finance and business expertise to align growing private wealth towards a more sustainable future. He believes it is time that financial institutions incorporate sustainable investing into mainstream business by educating investors and steering a portion of their wealth towards such investments – as there are immense wealth creation opportunities linked with reducing climate risk.
What drew you to the Master of Science in Sustainability Management (SUMA)?
Financial crisis, technological innovation, and climate-conscious consumerism have driven industry to reconsider their traditional business models, paving paths for unexplored and innovative business opportunities. I was looking for a program with a focus on next generation solutions to today’s most pressing challenges. After carefully evaluating and applying for Sustainability related programs offered by leading universities, I zeroed in on SUMA program at Columbia University as it best suited my interests and objectives. Access to Earth Institute resources, Columbia’s academic rigor and a constant dialogue with world-renowned professors makes this a very stimulating and enriching experience, right in the heart of New York City.
What do you intend to do professionally once you achieve your degree?
The need for sustainable investments is paramount for long-term value creation. Changing global energy needs, climate change, the rise in population, and unemployment are challenging current levels of global development. I intend to leverage my finance and business expertise along with this degree to align sovereign and private wealth towards a more sustainable future. In the long run, I intend to unlock vast pools of private wealth towards a more responsible and inclusive global growth, while reducing the risk of growing environmental and geo-political threats.
What do you think is the most important sustainability challenge?
As renowned environmentalist Robert Swan has said: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.” I believe the most important sustainability challenge is a lack of private finance. We need private investors to collaborate with governments to tackle the risk of climate change, which is no more limited to rise in temperatures – but is about a structural shift in economies, disruption in supply chain, energy transformation, and geopolitical risk. To gain broader interest of investors, financial institutions will have to clearly separate social and environmental impact of sustainable investments from their financial performance.
What skills and tools have you acquired through the program so far?
The subject of sustainability is complex and cannot be dealt in isolation. I structured a combination of courses that have conspicuously enhanced my learning to effectively understand, communicate and manage the science, economics and policy aspects of sustainability. Overall, I have acquired both macro and micro tools to address people, planet and profit perspective of multi-stakeholders.
How have you applied what you’ve learned in the program so far?
The most interesting part of every course has been the final project, as it provides the opportunity to apply skills learned during the course. Most of these projects require a skillful integration of science, technology, finance and policy to arrive at a sustainable solution. I worked on projects such as; Impacts of Climate Change on Investment Decisions, Financing of Battery Storage in Commercial and Industrial Applications, Rooftop Solar Project Development for a leading retailer and Expanding Electric Vehicle infrastructure in New York state.
Beyond the classroom, what extracurricular sustainability-related initiative have you engaged in with your fellow Sustainability Management students?
Seeing large interest in sustainable finance from experienced finance professionals enrolled in SUMA, I established – Columbia Sustainable Finance Professionals Network. CSFPN provides its members a platform to gain industry thought leadership, through continuous engagement with Heads of Sustainable Finance from leading financial institutions. Our Advisory Council consists of seasoned industry practitioners who regularly meet and mentor our members. While this helps broaden our industry network and assists in career progression, it also supports the industry with innovative sustainable solutions and provides them with well-qualified sustainability professionals. CSFPN’s activities have been recognized across Columbia University, and I’m honored to have received the Student Leadership Award 2016-’17 for leading this initiative.
What is your favorite class in the SUMA program so far and why?
Prof. Richard Horsch’s – International Environmental Law. We delved into international treaties and protocols in areas of ozone protection, climate change, chemicals and waste management, biodiversity and forest conservation. It was interesting to understand the north-south dichotomy – how it has shaped global environmental policies over decades and how this could see a gradual shift with countries like India and China being in a position to flex their economic muscle. As part of our final group project, we went under the skin of Paris Agreement and suggested a compliance mechanism to make it a legally binding agreement, similar to the Montreal Protocol.
How has collaborating with your fellow students in projects in the classroom benefitted you professionally and personally?
Collaborating with fellow students, who represent a mix of industries, experience and geographies has broadened my perspective of how sustainability is being incorporated across businesses, borders and cultures. This inspired me to take courses out of my comfort zone and has widened my understanding of newer areas of sustainability. Through these courses, I have acquired skills that expand the scope of my professional expertise.
What do you think is the most beneficial aspect of the SUMA program with regard to your career?
My time on the program has been a transformative experience. This program has added depth and dimension to my professional profile and international experience. Having earned a Master’s in Business Management followed by a progressive investment advisory career – and now with a degree in Sustainability, I am confident to steward areas such as Climate Finance, Impact Investing, Energy Markets and Sustainability Strategy – lending an astute mix of sustainability, business and finance expertise. Additionally, access to Columbia’s outstanding global alumni network and flexibility to cross-register courses across schools opens a world of opportunities. The program also offers uncountable benefits by virtue of being in NYC.
The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. The program requires the successful completion of 36 credit points. Those credit points are divided among five comprehensive content areas: integrative sustainability management, economics and quantitative analysis, the physical dimensions of sustainability, the public policy environment of sustainability management, and general and financial management. Visit our website to learn more.