Role & Organisation: Executive Director at Sentient Impact Group

What was your first job? 

One of my first jobs was working as a night club manager at a ski resort in Europe, which was definitely an eye opener! My first professional role was working as a mechanical engineer in the gas industry in New Zealand, and I have been in the energy industry ever since.

When did you know you wanted to work in finance/business? 

I originally wanted to be a lawyer but got talked into being an engineer, as I was half decent at maths. But I really started to enjoy business when my role expanded into general management where I was leading teams and becoming a strong and public advocate for investment in renewable energy. 

When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing? 

I remember the day well. About nine years ago I was at a roundtable hosted by the City of Melbourne and Danny Almagor started talking about Impact Investing and how finance could be used as a force for good. I was immediately hooked and fortuitously ended up working closely with Danny.

What’s one exciting development you and your team have in the pipeline? 

We are working on a debt fund that will support the transition to clean energy in Australia. All projects, be they renewable energy assets, battery storage, energy efficiency facilities or infrastructure to power electric vehicles need capital and in many cases that access to capital is underserved by traditional banks. We are proposing to fill the gap. We plan to launch a fund providing low risk returns to investors via a portfolio of secured loans while accelerating the transition to clean energy.

What was the most interesting impact deal (from any team across Asia/Pacific) in the past 12 months? 

I am impressed by Mike Cannon-Brookes’ intervention in taking an 11% stake in AGL. Whilst this is an isolated and unusual move, it is definitely a case of using finance in an activist sense. The earlier closure of the Loy Yang coal-fired generator would, in one single move, cause a material reduction in emissions and pollution. The health burden that the communities of the Latrobe Valley have had to endure is enormous and it is past time for that to cease.

Name one high impact company (globally) that investors should keep their eye on? 

I like the look of the Triodos Energy Transition Europe Fund which has been set up to support the energy transition and Europe and while it is not large it looks to be transparent and well managed. 

What’s your vision for impact investing in 5 years time? 

That’s easy – all investments should be impact investments! At the least all investments should be measured as if they are impact investments and the net benefit published, positive or negative. Then investors can make really well informed decisions.

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