The following interview is a part of SkillSpeak, a series of short interviews with SUMA professors, where they share bits of wisdom and knowledge, advising on skills that are crucial for a successful career in sustainability. This week we have Eron Bloomgarden who teaches a course on Global Environmental Markets as well as Financing Natural Infrastructure. This interview was conducted by Abigail Orzolek, SUMANI Director of Communications.
Name: Eron Bloomgarden
Academic Background: BA Politics, Pomona College; MPA Columbia University; Executive Education in Finance at Harvard Business School
Current Professional Title: Lecturer, Columbia University; Partner, Encourage Capital
What field within the sustainability realm do you work in?
Environmental finance; impact investing; carbon finance
What skills have you leveraged on so far, to expand your presence in your field of sustainability?
The field that I work in, environmental finance, requires knowledge and understanding of both finance and environment/sustainability. Encourage Capital employs is a solutions strategy approach. This means that we start with an environmental challenge and then try to build a financing/investment strategy that brings in private capital to help solve that problem. A crucial skill that I have leveraged in this field is the ability to speak both the languages of finance and of environmental policy.
What are some of the most relevant skill-building opportunities offered by the SUMA program?
One of the great strengths of the SUMA program, in my view, is student’s ability to select from a wide range of offerings. This flexibility allows students in many ways to design their own experience based on their interests. Beyond the formal education opportunities offered in the program, students have an excellent opportunity to connect with practitioners and “test-drive” the skills they are learning in the classroom.
What skills would you advise a future SUMA graduate to develop in order to build credibility within your field of sustainability?
I think there are typically three primary reasons that someone gets hired (or promoted) in their field. These are (i) pre-existing knowledge and skills (ii) ability to learn and adapt to new things, and (iii) a relevant network of contacts. I often advise students to use their time at Columbia to strengthen each of these areas both inside and outside of the classroom. It helps if students focus in on 1 or 2 areas of interest that they would like to pursue and start building skills and networking in those areas.