"I never get tired of talking about ESG and Impact Investing!" Interview by Anke Dembowski
I am very happy to have been interviewed by "Fondsfrau" Anke Dembowski (who is also an editor at "Institutional Money") who let me share about myself and my motivation for my work in the world.
She asked me some questions, like why sustainable investments are important to me, and why I see special opportunities for women in this area. Thank you very much for that!
Susanne, you worked in various positions in the financial sector, most recently as Head of Austria at Fidelity International. 8 years ago you founded your consulting company Dragonfly Finance, which specializes in sustainable investments, in Vienna. You are also the mother of two 8 and 10 year old children.
Why did you start your own business with Dragonfly Finance?
I was able to experience for myself what it means to have to leave a management position in a global corporation as a result of motherhood. That's how I started my own company. I want to save my employees this fate and offer them the flexibility that they need for their role as mothers - while providing an exciting professional environment and a good salary at the same time. I also take very well to being an entrepreneur. Mothers do incredible things, they need to be supported and adequately cared for. At Dragonfly we are 100% female.
Susanne, how did you get to deal specifically with sustainability topics?
I have asked myself this question many years ago. When I became a mom, at first, I wanted to leave the financial industry. Then, however, the feeling within me grew stronger and stronger that it is precisely here, in this economic and financial area, that we specifically need people who are capable of change. We need people who continue to develop this industry in a meaningful way. My innermost matter of concern is to, with my work, create a field in which conscious intelligence can be created on the topics of Sustainability-, Social-, Green- and Impact-Investing.
Why is sustainability so important?
I think a sustainable society also needs a sustainable economy - in harmony with nature. There is no sustainability without harmony. At the moment our annual resource consumption exceeds 1.7 times our earth’s resources, but we only have one earth. Caring for our planet and the need to finance the major challenges of today's society are not mutually exclusive - quite the contrary: an economy that nourishes society needs funding. Keywords: energy transition, social infrastructure, education, and many more.
Is sustainability a topic that is particularly suitable for women?
I think so! Women bring this topic across reliably because they are deeply authentic here. Sustainability means meeting the needs of the current generation without endangering the opportunities of the next generation. This intergenerational thinking, raising, guiding, nurturing are feminine qualities. They are simply in our DNA and this is exactly what is needed to ensure our survival as a species.
In your company you only employ women ...
Yes, there are now a large number of studies that show that women in strategically important positions increase long-term, sustainable company value and profit. The spaces where male monocultures dominate and hierarchical structures have previously determined working life are gradually being replaced and new opportunities await for us women. We are surrounded by men, who I also appreciate very much - but the financial sector is still extremely male-dominated, so it is important to me to ensure diversity.
Doesn't the topic of sustainability eventually wear you out?
No! I never get tired of talking about ESG and Impact Investing, about sustainable business and the role of women in this context, about the millennials who take to the streets for us, nor about the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which is what this global sustainability movement is pushing for. It gives me great joy to carry female values into the world. At a time when the survival of our planet must be secured, a new kind of "stock exchange" is needed. One that increasingly trades social and ecological values. Finance needs a shift in paradigm.
Where do you see opportunities for women in the future?
I believe that women will be THE ones who will most benefit from digital transformation, because especially male mind-based skills, such as logic, are transferred to systems with artificial intelligence, i.e. machines. Trust, intuition, empathy, on the other hand, are the almost irreplaceable qualities of humans - and these are feminine qualities, because we women are strong! Digitization and its disruptive power is thus setting the course on a completely new path. This world needs bold women, this makes me happy!
What exactly do you offer with Dragonfly? Who are your target customers?
We offer sustainable investment opportunities for institutional customers such as pension funds, insurance companies and banks. It is our personal goal to inspire them on topics such as Social-, Green-, and Impact-Investing. We work with international asset managers who make a difference by acting responsibly. This offers the opportunity to achieve a profound social impact by investing in these products, to generate financial income and to achieve important goals for sustainable development - be it in the area of ESG-compliant high-yield and emerging market bonds, social infrastructure, health care, or renewable energy technology.
Have you ever felt that someone treated you differently in business compared to if you were a man?
Ha! A thousand times - but to be fair, I have to say going in both directions, it has been both negative and positive. Labeling, judging, laughing, yes, of course, every woman knows that. But I also experienced that men in this typically male industry are also very happy about the women that exist and treat them with appreciation. Most of the time I am welcomed - just not when it comes to the same job, that's where the fun usually stops. But in general I feel valued and sometimes even courted.
Thank you for the interview!