I first came across impact investing a few years ago when I was trying to decide what to do next in my career – which, at that point, had been all of 2 years. Always the quintessential Millennial, I knew that I wanted my job to having meaning, but I didn’t know exactly how or what opportunities would allow me to achieve that. A journey of both days and years eventually brought me into the impact investing world and specifically to City Light.
My story starts perhaps earlier than most: I grew up in a house with a venture capitalist, and so I was exposed to the idea of early stage investment at a very young age. I can’t say I understood exactly what it was my father did every day, but I knew it was exciting and different, and probably not something I would ever get to do. I also had an early exposure to impact through my mother, a pediatrician who spent her little free time advocating for abused and neglected children.
What I was not exposed to at a young age was need. I never wanted for anything, but I knew there were billions of people in the world that did. I knew that my charity and volunteer work could solve some short-term problems, but wouldn’t drive the true, lasting change I hoped to have.
Fast forward ten or so years and I found myself at a crossroads. After three years of market research at a broker-dealer in Midtown Manhattan, and equally as much time volunteering for nonprofits in the city, I knew that it was time to seek something new that would allow me to use my technical skills to affect change. I did a bit of searching for what was out there, and was inundated by opportunities at nonprofits, consulting firms, and think-tanks. But one thing truly stuck with me: impact investing.
The idea of using traditional market-based solutions was, at the time, still in a bit of a trial phase. (I can explicitly remember Googling “impact investing” and finding City Light Capital as one of the top results for the term.) But with my confluence of experiences – years of exposure to venture capital, a passion for social impact, and a bit of experience in the private sector – I was fully confident that the impact investing model was what would truly change the world.
Lacking the expertise and technical proficiency necessary to make an immediate transition into the field, I decided to pursue an MBA to acquire the necessary skills and experience for a career in impact investing. In 2014, I was lucky enough to join The Lauder Institute, a dual-degree MBA/MA program at Wharton focused on building global business leaders, where I earned both my MBA and an MA in International Studies with a concentration in Spanish/Latin America.
I also immersed myself completely into everything impact: I was an Associate and Portfolio Manager for the Wharton Impact Investing Partners, the first student-run impact investing fund. I was the director of Social Finance and Impact Investing for the Social Impact Club and the Private Equity/Venture Capital Club. I did two internships with impact investors based out of Mexico and another with a new US-based fund. And just after graduating, I accepted a Fellowship at an international impact fund.
All of this is to say that I live and breathe impact investing: I wholeheartedly believe that it is what can and will change the world for the better. City Light, one of the most established players in the space, has quite literally been on my target list since I started my journey, and I am so grateful and humbled to be joining a team of such impressive and dedicated individuals who have proven not only that it works, but that social impact need not be financially concessionary.
City Light is evidence that impact-oriented investment works. While not everyone has come around to this realization quite yet, I think that my conclusion is only inevitable: in time, we won’t have to call it impact investing. Investing for impact will be the status quo.
Sarah is an Investment Associate at City Light Capital, where she focuses on early stage investments in education, energy, environment, and safety and security.
Sarah is joining City Light directly from her MBA, following a short Fellowship with Endeavor, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurship in emerging and frontier markets. During her two years at Wharton, she held two internships with impact investors based in Mexico City (IGNIA and Adobe Capital), and spent several weeks doing business development for an e-commerce startup in the city. She also served as a consultant for multiple impact organizations, including local and global impact funds and nonprofits.
Prior to business school, Sarah was a market analyst at ConvergEx Group, a broker-dealer based in New York City where she wrote economic and market commentary for the ConvergEx Morning Markets Briefing.
Sarah has an MBA from The Wharton School and a MA in International Studies from The Lauder Institute with a concentration in Spanish and Latin America. She also holds a BA from Trinity College, where she double majored in Spanish and International Relations.