The sustainability imperative

While policy leaders continue to debate terms such as “global warming” publicly, the drive to become more sustainable has quietly become a seemingly unstoppable trend across industries as companies increasingly embrace the notion of being “purpose-driven.” How is research about human and investor behavior and potentially transformative technical and infrastructure innovations for sustainability informing these discussions? And how are companies embracing sustainability both to drive their businesses’ financial success and as a way to engage their customers, policy leaders, and the broader public? Join us as an expert panel of alumni from CAS, ENG, QST, and COM discusses how we are taking steps together toward a more sustainable future.

About the panelists:

Ashley Patterson Beaty (CGS’04, COM’05, COM’07)
Principal, Ardeidae Group LLC

Ms. Ashley P. Beaty is a consultant focused on sustainable transportation, renewable energy and emerging technology. She founded Ardeidae Group, a Washington, D.C. advisory firm with an exclusive focus on promoting environmental, economic and social good. Ashley is also an executive at the start-up company BTR Energy, where she works with electric vehicle automakers on low carbon transportation programs.

Ashley has 15 years’ experience spanning government relations, policy, and communications. Prior to Ardeidae Group, she was Vice President of Government Relations and Public Policy at Ameresco. Ashley also served as a Congressional staffer and worked as a television news producer covering the White House and Congress for the Washington Bureau of Belo Corp.

Ashley has participated in numerous clean energy trade associations and is currently focused on clean fuels programs, critical minerals, and energy tax policy. She serves on the board of the Low Carbon Fuels Coalition and is a member of the Business Council for Sustainable Energy.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications and a Master of Science in Broadcast Journalism both from Boston University.

Deborah H. Caplan, (ENG’90)
Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Corporate Services, NextEra Energy, Inc.

Deborah Caplan is executive vice president of human resources and corporate services for NextEra Energy, Inc., a leading clean energy company. Ms. Caplan is responsible for NextEra Energy’s workforce initiatives including recruiting, learning and development, health and well-being, diversity and inclusion, and recognition, as well as shared services including corporate real estate, corporate security and aviation.

Prior to this position, Ms. Caplan served as vice president & chief operating officer for Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., and one of the largest investor-owned electric utilities in the nation. She also served as NextEra Energy’s vice president of integrated supply chain where she was responsible for sourcing and logistics for more than $5 billion in goods and services annually.

Prior to joining NextEra Energy, Ms. Caplan worked at General Electric Company as the senior vice president of global operations for Vendor Financial Services, a leasing and inventory finance company with $20 billion in assets and more than 500,000 accounts worldwide. During her tenure with GE, she held leadership positions in customer service, operations, manufacturing, Six Sigma and project management with GE Capital and Aircraft Engines.

Ms. Caplan holds a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in manufacturing engineering from Boston University. She is a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt. She is a member of the National Petroleum Council, an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the U.S. Secretary of Energy. She serves on the boards for Terminix International Company, HR Policy Association, the Health Transformation Alliance, the Center for Energy Workforce Development, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Urban League-Palm Beach County and the American Heart Association-Palm Beach County. Ms. Caplan is also a member of the International Women’s Forum.

Stephen Franco (Questrom’94, CAS’94)
Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for the Chief Investment Office, Bank of America 

Stephen Franco is a Managing Director and Portfolio Manager for the Chief Investment Office (CIO) within Bank of America supporting Bank of America Private Bank and Merrill. In this role, he is responsible for the analysis, research and portfolio management of the internally managed CIO Socially Innovative Investing (S2I) solutions suite which includes U.S. Large Cap, All Cap, Environmental Stewardship & Sustainability, Women & Girls Equality, Religious Voice & Values, Social Equality & Inclusion and Carbon Reserve Free strategies. Stephen is the lead portfolio manager of the S2I solutions suite.

Prior to joining Bank of America, Stephen held positions at Walden Asset Management / Boston Trust as a portfolio manager and senior research analyst responsible for creating and executing the integration of environmental, social and governance factors into portfolios and implementing unique social investment mandates. He also held positions as a managing director at Compete, Inc., managing director and senior research analyst at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, and senior research analyst at Pacific Growth Equities and The Yankee Group.

Stephen earned his B.A. degree in English Literature, his M.B.A. degree from Boston University and his M.S. degree in Finance from the Graduate School of Management at Boston College. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation and is a member of the CFA® Society Boston.

Wendy Nystrom (GRS’96, CAS’96)
Environmental Risk Management Expert

I am an environmental risk management expert who has worked with both fortune 100 companies and small family owned operations. I spent much of my career working for insurance carriers as an environmental subject matter expert, underwriting risk, teaching continuing education classes and speaking at conferences across the country.

I recently pivoted to studying sustainability, using my existing insurance/risk management knowledge in translating the intersection between climate change, risk, sustainability and resilience as I wanted to use my unique background to progress sustainability initiatives forward.

I created, developed and taught a 6-class course titled “Insurance 101 for Climate Activists” hosted by Climate Resolve and sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and New York based Resilient Cities Catalyst. When the course was complete, I launched a live weekly webcast titled “Environmental Social Justice”. The webcast discusses current legislation, topics and trends in sustainability and combatting climate change in an open, respectful platform, where all opinions are considered without prejudice.

In addition to the webcast, I felt it was important to understand Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting standards. Having a scientific and risk background gives me a unique view into a company’s exposures and mitigation practices. Although ESG has been in practice for 10 years, the current reporting practices are relatively new, as a result I have taken two certification courses offered by the Task Force on Climate Related Disclosures (TCFD) and have attended and participated in many webinars hosted by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Foundation. One of my goals after completing my UCLA Sustainability certification is to take the SASB certification course as well as the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) Academy.

Using sustainability initiatives as well as ESG reporting is an important enhancement to risk management as it enhances our understanding of climate change and how it affects our assets by implementing strategic mitigation initiatives.

About the moderator:

Caroline Flammer
Associate Professor and Dean’s Research Scholar, Boston University Questrom School of Business

Caroline Flammer is an Associate Professor and Dean’s Research Scholar at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business. She is also a Fellow of the Susilo Institute. Her research interests are in competitive strategy at the intersection of corporate governance, impact investing, corporate social responsibility, climate change, and innovation, with a focus on the antecedents and implications of companies’ investments in sustainable practices. Her research examines how, and under which conditions, firms can enhance their competitiveness and long-term profitability while having a positive impact on society and the natural environment. Identifying the extent to which firms can improve their competitiveness while strengthening—instead of undermining—the very system in which they operate is important, as firms can play a critical role in addressing climate change, poverty, inequality, global health, and other grand challenges related to society and the natural environment.

She has published in leading academic journals such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Financial Economics, Management Science, and the Strategic Management Journal. Caroline was awarded the 2015 Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability (ARCS) Scholar Award. She is also the recipient of several other prestigious awards including the Moskowitz Prize for Best Paper in Sustainable and Responsible Investing in both 2013 and 2017, the 2015 French Social Investment Forum Principles for Responsible Investment (FIR-PRI) Award for Best Published Paper in Finance and Sustainability, and the 2016 Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) Institute Research Award.

Caroline serves as Associate Editor for the Strategic Management Journal, as Associate Editor for Management Science’s special issue on Business and Climate Change, and is on the editorial board of the Academy of Management Journal. She also serves as Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), the largest network of responsible investors to date. At Boston University, she serves as the Academic Director of both the Social Impact MBA program and the university-wide Minor in Sustainable Energy. Furthermore, she is the PhD Coordinator for the Strategy & Innovation Department.