October 22, 2019 By Closed Loop Partners
Allison joined the Closed Loop Partners team this year and is responsible for strategic partnerships, capital formation, and fund structuring at the firm. We sat down with her to hear more about her journey into the circular economy world where profitability and sustainability meet.
I was ready to transition to a role where I could enable systemic change in a work environment where risk-taking was encouraged. I had already decided the circular economy was the right next sector — it was a matter of finding an exciting role that would blend investing, industry influence, and a triple-bottom-line ‘systems thinking’ manner of evaluating problems.
Tell us a little bit about your previous life and what brought you to Closed Loop Partners?
As a college student, I became excited by the possibility of capital markets enabling social and environmental change across national borders. I was a student at Georgetown University’s Foreign Service School studying Science & Technology Policy. I loved everything involved with social and environmental finance: from measuring impacts, to pricing them, to setting up schemes to finance and trade them, all with the goal of finding the most most efficient ways to protect and enable them.
After graduating, I became a carbon markets analyst at a D.C.-based non-profit, studying and reporting on voluntary carbon market trading regimes around the world. At the time, the economy was booming; there were several cap and trade bills in the U.S. Congress; and a carbon price seemed imminent — we could finally decouple greenhouse gas intensity from economic growth! Alas, the financial crisis happened the following year — and with it, so did the near term prospects for a national carbon price.
So, I returned to school in 2009 to study finance and the business of sustainability at the University of Michigan’s Erb Institute, receiving an MBA and an MS in sustainable systems science. After graduating in 2012, I joined JPMorgan in a rotational management training program. Following the program, I became a structured finance banker to alternative investment funds, creating custom financing solutions for alternative investment funds. I enjoyed the product development and also the sophistication of my clients. Most interesting of all, I was seconded to JPM’s Sustainable Finance team for part of my last year at JPM to set up two social impact funds.
After these secondments, it became clear that I was ready to transition to a role where I could enable systemic change in a work environment where risk-taking was encouraged. I had already decided the circular economy was the right next sector — it was a matter of finding an exciting role that would blend investing, industry influence, and a triple-bottom-line ‘systems thinking’ manner of evaluating problems. Having become aware of Closed Loop Partners (CLP) through friends in impact investing two years earlier, the decision to join was an easy one. We’re at a tremendously exciting phase in our platform growth, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
What excites you most about the circular economy?
Two things: the urgency of the waste / conservation problem, and the fact that circular economy solutions make so much sense! Also, I’ve been obsessed with recycling since college. I even went ‘dumpster diving’ for a month on Georgetown’s campus to try to figure out the right combination of bin siting and labeling that would encourage people to recycle. Yeah, I was cool.
What are you most looking forward to in your role at Closed Loop Partners?
Being able to apply my finance and systems analysis experience to helping Closed Loop Partners grow. The impact, network, and respect that CLP has built in the recycling, sustainability, and impact investing industries is impressive.