Rosemary Addis

Name: Rosemary Addis

Role & Organisation:

These days I have a portfolio of leadership roles through Impact Strategist.  Currently that includes Ambassadorial roles for the Global Steering Group for Impact Investment and Impact Investing Australia, Chairing the Board of Advisors to Sweef Capital and  the Climate Ready Initiative for Griffith University, Non-Executive Director of Indigenous Business Australia, and Member of the World Bank Steering Committee on innovative finance for road safety.  The common thread is driving innovation and investment for greater impact and sustainability and empowering people in the process. 

What was your first job?

I was the neighbourhood babysitter from the age of 12 then my first job out of school was at McDonalds in Lygon Street – one of the few that didn’t survive; I suspect burgers and soft serve couldn’t compete with pizza and gelato!  At Uni I worked in data research with Roy Morgan, which (pre PCs) involved marking up endless run sheets of warehouse data with highlighter – I had babies nappies and tinned asparagus!

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

That future emerged out of a sliding doors moment at Uni when I chose to study law instead of honours Psych.  From there I was fortunate to join what was then Arthur Robinson & Hedderwicks (now Allens-Linklaters) which opened all sorts or opportunities, including time in New York where I worked for the Allens group and then Kirkland and Ellis and advised clients from Newscorp and Westpac on their US capital raising to Bain and Citicorp Venture Capital on their acquisitions in IT and biotech.  When we returned from NY, my husband moved to the banking side of structured finance and studied a Master of Applied Finance, so more of what you could on the capital side rubbed off by osmosis.

When did you first discover the concept of Impact Investing?

I discovered the idea of a more integrated approach to social and economic value around 2002, not long after deciding to retire from the Allens partnership to explore the wider world of business and community.  I was really interested in how we could create strategic alliance in a different, more productive way and found the appetite – and action – on that conversation was happening between sectors led by people including Jed Emerson, leading work on blended value ,and Pamela Hartigan, then at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford.  I read everything I could get my hands on; I was hooked. 

That evolved into my first advisory business, LangfordAddis, in 2003 focused on what we’d now call shared value, which led to roles in community sector, State and Federal government including as Social Innovation Strategist which created the opportunity for Australia to participate in the G8 Taskforce in 2013-14 and the opportunity to form Impact Investing Australia. 

All the way through my understanding of what impact investing is and could be has been enriched by working with wonderful people who’ve shared their skills and experience to inform an increasingly dynamic understanding to the concept.

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

In the spirit of a portfolio career, I’ve picked a top three:

One – working with 20 year PE veteran Jennifer Buckley to launch Sweef Capital, a regionally-based women led impact investment firm.  Spun out from the Southeast Asia operations of SEAF, the firm will be a flagship for investing in the potential of women and future of Southeast Asia.  It’s been a privilege to work with Jennifer and the team over recent months to bring this development to market.

Two – I’m always excited for what Impact Investing Australia can achieve to drive the market forward.  Sabina (Curatolo) is doing a terrific job taking the baton from Sally (McCutchan) – and, of course, we’d be more than excited to see  the impact and capital an impact wholesale fund would unlock for Australia.

Finally – the SDG Impact Standards will change the game; and it’s terrific to have this best practice standard Australian led by the one and only Fabienne Michaux.

What was the most interesting social impact project (from any team globally) in the past 12 months?

We’re spoilt for choice, however, with diversity front and centre, I’ll go with Women of the World Endowment (WoWE).  Founded by Patience Marime-Bell, WoWE is designing for scale from the outset, combining the levers of women’s economic empowerment with the right capital at the right time.

I’m also a big fan of both Motability based in the UK and the Canadian First Nations Market Housing Fund (FNMHF) because of their transformative approach and potential to be adapted for Australia.  Motability transforms the market for disability adjusted vehicles and scooters making them more accessible (literally) and creating a market. FNMHF is opening finance to First Nations communities and organisations across Canada for housing on reserve and settlement lands in ways that respect the communal ownership of land and work for the communities.

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

My vision is clear, bold and ambitious for impact to be integrated into decision making across the baord.  We are in the midst of a breathtaking opportunity to re-imagine the relationship between our economy, markets and and society the way forward and transform finance.  This is a once in a lifetime window: we face challenges of urgency and enormity – and the conditions laid so bare we can shape the future.  Now is the time to drive capital to creating a future that is financially prosperous and in which people have access to clean water and good health and where we conserve and sustain the environment. That’s a vision people can get behind as we work through these uncertain times.  If not now, then when?

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