Programme: MSc Climate Change, Management and Finance 2018

Nationality: German

Undergraduate education: BA Philosophy and Economics, Universitat Bayreuth

Job prior to studying at the Business School: Business Analyst Internship, Investment Boutique Europa Partners Latin America in Lima, Peru

Job after to studying at the Business School: Research analyst, London School of Economics

Valentin is a Research analyst at London School of Economics working for the Transition Pathway Initiative (TPI). TPI is a global, asset-owner led initiative which assesses companies' preparedness for the transition to a low carbon economy. He is also co-founder of a sustainable fashion start-up called La Salva which aims to upend wasteful practices in fashion by researching and producing a circular alternative made from banana and hemp cultivation by-products.

Your time at Imperial College Business School

Why did you choose to study your programme and why specifically at Imperial College Business School?  

I chose my undergrad course in Philosophy and Economics primarily to make sure that whatever job(s) I would have, would be ones that, beyond being fun and engaging, would make sense to me. Among the many topics discussed, climate change stood out to me because it requires such a fundamental rethinking of every aspect of our economies and subsequently societies. This touches on questions of fairness (including intergenerational), welfare and development among many others. After working for an investment boutique as an intern I became convinced that in order to go from theoretical discussions to action, finance would be absolutely instrumental. I realised we were entering an interesting time for businesses as they learn how to best navigate the intricate relationship between human beings, the economic structure of the cultures and societies, and the natural world, and that finance by nature having a more systemic, global and forward looking approach, would need to lead the way.

The MSc Climate Change, Management & Finance seemed to be the ideal programme to develop the necessary knowledge and analytical skills to thrive in this changing environment and earn the credibility to also influence the discussion.

What was the most important learning point you took with you from the Business School? And the most surprising thing about the programme?

Beyond the excellent education and good selection of topics, I learned how to push myself and aim for more. The Business School environment is challenging, but incredibly supportive at the same time allowing you to grow very quickly. Additionally, through the high focus on group work, I learned how to work in teams where everyone has a different style and approach to engage with the subject – something absolutely instrumental for my current job.

What advice would you give to a prospective student considering studying the same programme as you?

If you are interested in the intersection of climate change and finance, go for it! Being taught by, and having access to top researchers in their field, high engagement with and interest from the investing community, and an amazing student body with highly motivated, communicative and engaged students from all over the world creates an amazing experience. Once you’re on the course, I would recommend joining a student group or society like CCMF’s own Green Minds who are producing an excellent podcast.

Tell us about your current job

How has your programme contributed to your career success? 

There is no question that without both the education and the professional training received at Imperial College Business School I would have not been able to get the job I have today. For my job as a researcher at LSE, the education – especially concerning detailed knowledge about Energy System Models is immensely helpful. Likewise understanding financial markets is crucial, and the combination and interaction between the two even more so.

For the startup, Imperial provided much assistance and does so even two years after graduating. My co-founder and I were semi-finalists with the Venture Catalyst Challenge which also helped us becoming finalists in the Mayors Entrepreneurship competition, winning LSE social entrepreneur of the year and attracting VC offers. The Imperial Enterprise Lab also provided much assistance with research opportunities within Imperial allowing us to leverage some of the available expertise.

What do you enjoy most about your current work?

Having an education that is not yet very far spread but high in demand means that you tend to get a lot of responsibility early on. In my job as a researcher I enjoy most being in a space with highly talented people and learning from them, seeing my work have a big impact on the climate finance space, and taking on responsibilities usually reserved for other roles. On the startup side I love the creative part but also the challenge of having to distil all that into a comprehensive and ambitious plan that will actually work.

What are the most exciting/difficult challenges facing your sector currently?

Understanding the risks an opportunities, as well as their scale from a financial perspective is a huge challenge. In order to enable good decision making all facets of this challenge – the climate science, the business side and the finance story as well as the regulatory framework both national and internationally need to come together. The issue is how to simplify all this information enough to enable decision making but also retaining a high degree of accuracy. On the start-up side the biggest issue will be for environmentally and circular alternatives will have to play catch up for a while in terms of quality and comfort before they can challenge incumbent products. The strategies on how to bridge this part of the product cycle will be interesting as they evolve.

What is your proudest achievement in the job so far?

In my current job at LSE we develop methodologies to assess the low carbon transition of the world’s largest listed companies. We work on many sectors but writing my first sector methodology together with my then colleague Jolien Noels was extremely rewarding.

On the start-up side pitching at city hall London, and realising that you are actually generating investor interest certainly were proud moments – but I think I take the most pride in all the hours we had to put in and obstacles we had to overcome to get to where we are today.

Alumni community

In what way is remaining connected to your alumni network important to you?

Staying connected is very important to me and many people have stayed in London working in sustainable finance. On a professional level it is very interesting to hear experiences from others in their respective roles. As sustainable finance is a fast evolving area there are always intriguing issues emerging from these conversations. The fact that we all tend to be passionate about what we do means that the professional and personal staying in touch compliment each other very well.

Have you volunteered at the Business School since you graduated? If so, why do you feel it’s important to volunteer your time and experience?

Together with a good friend I’ve met during the course, Alvaro Lara, we launched the Climate Investment Challenge at Imperial College Business School. We both felt that on one hand we really loved thinking about financial innovations that could accelerate meaningful climate action, and doing so in the university context where you can take an idea, develop it in a team and just run with it. In order to get the challenge off the ground we both volunteered time and also received amazing support from Imperial's Centre for Climate Finance and Investment. The experience has been extremely rewarding. There are many excellent and talented students in the programme and we felt that we could provide a bigger stage for that.

Programme: MSc Climate Change, Management and Finance 2018

Nationality: German

Undergraduate education: BA Philosophy and Economics, Universitat Bayreuth

Job prior to studying at the Business School: Business Analyst Internship, Investment Boutique Europa Partners Latin America in Lima, Peru

Job after to studying at the Business School: Research analyst, London School of Economics