Hacking a path to sustainable finance skills
By Cecilia Serin
Last weekend I took part in my first ‘Hackathon’ organized by Open Geneva, in partnership with the University of Geneva. It was refreshing to tackle one of my daily tasks from a completely different angle with people from varied backgrounds and areas of expertise. As the manager of FC4S’s Skills Project I submitted a challenge to discuss “How to bridge the sustainable finance gap.”
At the beginning of the week, along with other organizations that proposed challenges, I presented the results of FC4S’s Sustainable Finance Skills Gap research at the “Sustainable Finance Bootcamp” so that we could kick the ground running once we all “met” on Friday.
Then on Friday 13th, we kicked off. And yes, I know, the ‘Hackathon’ started on Friday the 13th! Open Geneva set up a slack channel for each challenge and gave us access to several online tools which helped us collaborate. This was exciting as I really enjoy using virtual whiteboards, it’s such a fun way to work together while being apart.
What I really enjoyed the most though, was analyzing my challenge through different lenses of my teammates. In my team, we had a few brilliant students (some of them are considering studying finance) and they made clear to me that before the hackathon they didn’t realize that they could study Sustainable Finance.
This was an eye-opening experience for me. As manager of FC4S’s Skills project I always knew that was a skills gap between what employers wanted and the talent available in the sustainable field. But only after brainstorming with these students/teammates did I realize while the demand for sustainable finance skills exists many young people didn’t even know that it was a career option. There is often a mismatch between demand and supply, but this was a classic case of lack of information creating that asymmetry.
Like many millennials and those from Generation Z, sustainability is uber important and they don’t want to only two choices, either studying finance or doing something good for the planet. Sustainable finance bridges that gap and more people need to know that.
By the end of the Hakathon it become obvious that we in the sustainable finance field need to work hand-in-hand with universities and other “knowledge-providers” to really show how careers in finance and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. This is one of the very few instances in life when we can have our cake and eat it too. At the end of the Hackathon my team came up with the idea of a “Sustainable Finance Brain Bridge”, which in my humble opinion is the perfect place to start this conversation.