Pranjali Kumar ’23
As part of Yale SOM’s International Experience course offering, I had the opportunity to visit London and Paris—two of the most important financial centers in Europe (and the most beautiful cities I have visited)—with 20 other classmates from the MBA program.
The focus of the trip was sustainable finance—investment decisions that take environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account. Our schedule was designed so that we spent equal amounts of time both in Paris and London, meeting with regulators, asset managers, and securities issuers, to gain an understanding of the rise of sustainable finance and critical contemporary issues relevant to it.
The weeks were full of company visits, breathtaking views (including from the top of Sacré-Cœur and the Eiffel Tower), delicious food, and cultural appreciation. Here is a brief glimpse at some of our activities:
- Discussions with Sylvie Goulard, second deputy governor of Banque de France, to discuss the role of central banking and the financial sector in addressing ESG risks. The discussions provided us with insights from the policymaker’s perspective.
- Company visits to Schneider Electric in Paris. This was probably my favorite company visit. I really enjoyed visiting their headquarters in Rueil-Malmaison, France, and learning how a Fortune 500 company engaging in energy management and automation thinks about ESG adoption and enforcement.
- The panoramic tour of the Left Bank, Notre-Dame, Montmartre, the place that nurtured most of the great artists and writers living in France this past century (Monet, Picasso, van Gogh) and the breath taking view from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica.
- Visiting Schroders in London to understand its approach to ESG integration, engagement, and disclosure, and a roof-top meeting with Arabesque to understand the role that AI and fintech play in enabling ESG investing.
- Waking up to the Tower Bridge right behind where we stayed in London!
- Exploring the Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and Westminster Abbey on a walking tour while enjoying some really great Indian food at Dishoom’s.
- Visiting the Church of England Pensions Fund to discuss its investment strategy and the different approaches that pension funds are using to move toward net zero (engagement, voting, exclusions).
The International Experience helped me understand the opportunities and challenges related to ESG from a multi-stakeholder perspective—banks, policymakers, fintech, and energy companies–while being immersed in a global business setting, and enjoying the cuisine, rich culture, architectural, and natural beauty of two of the most popular cities in the world.
Nick DeSimone ’23
I did not know exactly what to expect for this trip, given that my experience with ESG and sustainable business has mostly been through the context of investing on behalf of NYC Retirement Systems. There, we were trained to deep-dive into the ESG claims businesses make in order to fact-check them before investing. I found a lot of companies greenwashing in order to be more appealing to investors. My biggest takeaway from this trip is being able to really understand how these businesses are thinking about driving real change through ESG initiatives and what those conversations look like at the highest levels of organizations. My favorite was Schneider Electric because it really seemed like ESG is ingrained in that company’s DNA, and it was inspiring to see such large company care so much about sustainability.
Franklin Nyabanga ’23
My highlight for the London/Paris IE trip was getting to know and making new friends from the second-year class and other cohorts while exploring London together. It was important to gain insights from industry leaders in ESG such as Arabesque and 2Rsquared and to learn what they are doing to solve what is arguably the most crucial challenge in measuring and accounting for ESG factors, i.e., access to accurate and reliable data. Employing measures such as AI in formulating solutions to such challenges along with frameworks the public and private sector can use to collaborate and advance the ESG agenda was eye-opening. Touring and exploring London, visiting iconic sites such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Queen Elizabeth’s tower (a.k.a Big Ben), and enjoying British humor from street performances along the banks of the River Thames made for good fun!
Sherlyn Galarza ’23
From the company visits to an impromptu 11--mile Paris walking tour, this IE far surpassed my expectations. I left having gained deeper relationships with fellow SOMers, memories of exploring London and Paris, and a much more sophisticated grasp of ESG investing and, unexpectedly, geopolitics. My favorite part was spending my birthday in Paris with everyone! I am beyond grateful for this immense opportunity to grow intellectually, socially, and professionally.
Anisha Advani ’23
This trip has been the highlight of my time at SOM thus far! I learned a great deal through the company visits, where we delved deep into ESG investing practices and how firms are navigating its ever-changing landscape. I also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know people from different cohorts, exploring the beautiful cities of Paris and London on foot, and experimenting with the local cuisines.
María Leroux Padilla ’23
IE at London and Paris was a great experience overall. The cities are amazing places with great food, music, and cultural heritage that makes you want to go back as many times as possible. The companies we met with were all great and gave us a good sense of what efforts are being made to contribute to a better world for all. What I liked best were the afternoons after we finished. My peers and I would go for a walk through the streets in Paris, or we would walk to Kensington Palace in London and have a picnic while the sun set. It was a personal and professional experience that I am grateful to have had during my time at SOM.