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Center for Sustainable Business | EmpowHER: Career Development Program for Women in Sustainable Finance, Supported by Visa Foundation

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MBA Student Programs

EmpowHER: Career Development Program for Women in Sustainable Finance

Supported by Visa Foundation

A new career development program building equitable opportunities for women pursuing careers in the financial industry and ESG investing.

The NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business (CSB) is pleased to announce EmpowHER: Career Development Program for Women in Sustainable Finance, Supported by Visa Foundation. Launched in Fall 2022, EmpowHER aims to help a diverse group of values-driven professionals build their financial expertise and networks, creating the foundation for gainful career opportunities in sustainable investing.

A career in sustainable finance provides a unique opportunity to drive investment into companies that are solving pressing environmental and social challenges. ESG-related investments currently account for 1 in every $4 invested in the US, totaling more than $17 trillion invested in sustainable assets in 2020 alone. This represents a 42% increase from 2018 and consistent year over year growth for more than a decade. There is a corresponding explosion of demand for sustainability-related financial expertise to manage these assets. However, there is not enough qualified human capital to keep up with the financial capital being funneled into ESG investments. An analysis of LinkedIn job posts by the CFA Institute found 6% of investment professional job posts mentioned sustainability-related skills, yet less than 1% of profiles disclose such experience. 

NYU Stern Center for Sustainable Business is at the forefront of academic institutions providing students with the skillset, network and hands-on learning experiences to fill these high-demand job opportunities and drive the continued growth of ESG investing.

EmpowHER will provide a two-year leadership development initiative for MBA students, including:

  • Intensive training on society’s most pressing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues and how to address them through innovative financial and business solutions. Trainings will include fundamentals of finance and sustainable finance, workshops diving deeper into certain topics, and additional support by finance professors and mentors throughout the program. Additionally, we have developed a curriculum guide to support students through figuring out which Stern courses they can take in sustainable finance
  • Hands-on learning experiences in which students work directly with a company and learn how to embed sustainability into corporate and investment strategies. Students will participate in experiential learning opportunities, including finance-focused Stern Signature Projects, NYU Impact Investment Fund (NIIF), or NYU Michael Price ESG Fund. Students will also participate in a case competition of their choice 
  • Employer engagement to provide recruiting pathways for students seeking summer internships and full-time roles in finance and sustainable finance
  • Networking opportunities giving students access to careers and professional communities in sustainable finance which they might not have otherwise considered 
  • Mentorships to provide support and feedback for students, enabling them to navigate their MBA experience and career search with confidence


Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee is drawn from CSB’s network of professionals in sustainable finance and will guide CSB through the development and implementation of the new program. Committee members include:

Beatriz Da Cunha Headshot Beatriz Da Cunha (MBA '11)
Head of Sustainable Finance Strategy Execution
Barclays Corporate & Investment Bank
Vicki Fuller
Founder & CEO
VLF Development
Lynette Jefferson Headshot Lynette Jefferson (MBA '95)
Managing Director, Head UBS Sustainable Investing and Inclusive Investment Solutions
Justine O'Connor Justine O'Connor (MBA '09)
Managing Director
Colleen Ostrowski Colleen Ostrowski
Senior Vice President and Treasurer
Abigail Pohlman Headshot Abigail Pohlman
Head of Private Wealth Management
Sustainable Solutions Group
Goldman Sachs
Erin Smith Headshot

Erin Smith

Sustainability Strategy Executive, Business Banking & Global Commercial Banking

Bank of America

Michelle Wang Michelle Wang
Managing Director, Fixed Income Capital Markets
Morgan Stanley



Learning Objectives

Students who complete the full two-year career development program cycle will:            

  • Be familiar with the current trends, innovations, and developments in sustainable finance, and ESG issues affecting finance and business
  • Develop knowledge and skills required to incorporate sustainability into financial services
  • Understand and be equipped to pursue the diverse career paths related to sustainable finance
  • Build a network of peers, educators, and professionals for support during and after MBA program    



Application Process, Eligibility, and Expectations of the Program

We seek to build a diverse, inclusive cohort of students who are dedicated to promoting gender equality, removing obstacles, and breaking down historical barriers present for minorities in finance. This program is open to Stern MBA candidates of all backgrounds and identities, but we particularly encourage female-identifying students to apply. 

This opportunity is now closed for the full-time MBA students class of 2025. Applications for the class of 2026 will open in Spring 2024.

View the recording of the EmpowHER Information Session here.

This program serves to supplement the finance and sustainable business offerings of the MBA program. In joining this program, the expectation is that the student will attend all of the mandatory events.


Complementing Existing Resources

This new program is designed to build on the existing educational and career development resources at NYU Stern, including core and elective courses in finance and sustainable business, experiential learning programs through the Office of Student Engagement, and knowledge development and recruiting support through the Careers team and student-led groups such as Graduate Finance Association (GFA), Stern Women in Business (SWIB), and Social Impact and Sustainability Association (SISA).



About Visa Foundation

Visa Foundation Logo
Visa Foundation seeks to support inclusive economies where individuals, businesses, and communities can thrive. Through grant making and investing, Visa Foundation prioritizes the growth of gender diverse and inclusive small and micro businesses. The Foundation also supports broader community needs and disaster response in times of crisis. Visa Foundation is registered in the U.S. as a 501(c)3 entity. For more information, visit Visa Foundation.