Richard FontesPart-Time MBA Senior Client Advocacy Analyst, State Street Global Advisors
“The MBA is about content, but it’s also about networking, so I wanted to go where the social impact investing network is strong and robust. And not only is the network strong and robust here in Boston, but it’s also strong across the United States.”
Ten years into his career in the financial services sector, Richard Fontes had a professional crisis. He was becoming increasingly concerned about social justice, inequity, and the climate crisis. But professionally, he didn’t feel like he was doing enough to make a difference.
“In financial services, I felt like I was on the sidelines,” he says, “not doing anything to act on my beliefs.”
Richard considered switching to a nonprofit career; he even looked into Greenpeace and Catholic Charities. “I didn’t think I could continue in my current field without doing something good in the world,” he says. It was Richard’s boss at State Street Global Advisors who offered him a solution: ‘Have you considered ESG (environment, social and governance) and impact investing?’ She asked. Richard was immediately intrigued.
The possibility of combining his finance experience with socially and environmentally conscious investing seemed like the perfect fit. “I decided to drive my career into this space,” he says, “to advocate for clients to invest their money more sustainably.” To learn more about the field and build his impact investing skills, Richard turned to Questrom.
“BU is in an incredible leadership position in this growing field, and I feel incredibly blessed to be in a program where I will emerge with a constellation of people who I know will be there to support me as I work to leverage what I’m learning to make the change in the world I want to see.”
Richard has always been a strong believer in meeting new people to expand his worldview. He approached his MBA program with the same ideals. Before classes started, he set a goal of making 1,000 Linkedin connections before graduation. “I decided I was going to talk to everybody in the program,” he says. “The MBA is about content, but it’s also about networking, so I wanted to go where the social impact investing network is strong and robust. And not only is the network strong and robust here in Boston, but it’s also strong across the United States.”
Not only has Richard networked with other MBA students, he’s also developed relationships with several world-class professors in the ESG and impact investing space. He served as teaching assistant to Lecturer Kimberly Gladman, who teaches ESG, and completed two directed studies. In one, he teamed up with Professor Nalin Kulatilaka, Co-Director of the Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy, to assists with his research into the impacts of COVID-19 on ESG investing.
In another, he assisted Professor Caroline Flammer with her research on green bonds. “She’s such an influential academic in this space. It’s insane I get to work with her,” Richard says. “It was like playing alongside Michael Jordan.”
“This program fundamentally changed my life,” Richard says of his PEMBA experience. “The moral of the story is, the more you buy in, the more you’ll be rewarded in this program. My advice to prospective students is network, network, network. You’ll only get out of the program what you put into it, so don’t be bashful, talk to everybody.”