FTG 0008 - ESG Considerations in Finance with Real Estate Investor Uma Pattarkine '14

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Guest Bio:

Uma Pattarkine ’14, ‘14g Bus is the Global ESG Lead & Investment Strategy Senior Analyst at CenterSquare, where she leads their Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy to incorporate ESG into investment decision-making and management of listed and direct investments. Their research demonstrates embedding ESG considerations into their investment process provides opportunities to create value, reduce risk, and generate superior investment returns. Uma graduated from Penn State with Interdisciplinary Honors and High Distinction, earning a BS in Finance with a minor in International Business, a BS in Accounting, and a Master of Accountancy in 2014, all from the Penn State Smeal College of Business. She is a CFA charter holder and member of the CFA Institute. She serves as the Sustainability Committee co-chair for NAREIM and sits on the Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board. Personally she is an artist, aspiring impact investor, and fascinated by the ability of innovation and disruptive thinking to create big changes.

Episode Specifics:

In this episode, you’ll hear from Uma about:

· Crafting an academic schedule to fit your interests in a four-year span

· The value of being involved in leadership opportunities as a student – even if not directly tied to a major

· The origins of Student Council’s THON team

· Finding your why and defining a personal mission statement

· Deciding on career paths in finance and accounting

· Leaning into your personal curiosity in the thesis process

· Using your home college’s resources in addition to the Honors College’s in the job search

· Finding unique opportunities by looking past a company’s primary product

· Working as an institutional investor on the buy side

· The broad array of options for business majors

· All things ESG as it emerges in the investment industry

· Building a business unit or club up from scratch

· Why Uma joined CenterSquare and working in finance strategy

· Jumping at opportunities – like sharing your knowledge on TV with little notice

· Getting involved in your professional community beyond your job

· ESG and sustainability in real estate, the built environment, and even in other industries and disciplines!

· Finding your professional purpose

· The importance of continual, lifelong learning

· Special shoutouts for the College’s staff – and why you should connect with them at shc.psu.edu/appointments 

· The power of the Penn State network

Don’t forget to like, follow, or subscribe wherever you are engaging with this content.

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Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer).

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer.

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License.

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shuire Honors College at Penn State. Following the gone takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and it spanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how stollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Doheen, class of two thousand and eleven and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back our guest. Today's Uma Petarkeny, class of two thousand and fourteen. Buma is the global esg lead in investment strategy, senior and analyst at Center Square, where she leads their environmental, social and governance, or ESG, strategy. To incorporate this into investment decisionmaking and management. Of listed in direct investments. Their research demonstrates embedding ESG considerations into their investment process provides opportunities to create value, reduced risk and generate superior investment returns in their real estate holdings. Buma graduated from Penn State with interdisciplinary honors in high distinction, earning a BS and finance with a minor and international business, a BS in accounting and a master of accountcy in two thousand and fourteen, all from the Penn State smeal college business. She is a CFA charter holder and member of the CFA institute. She serves as the Sustainability Committee Co Chair for Naarim and sits on the smeal Sustainability Advisory Board. Personally, she's an artist, aspiring impact investor and fascinated by the ability of innovation and disruptive thinking to create big changes. In our chat today you'll hear from Uma about crafting an academic schedule to fit your interests and for your span. The value of being involved in leadership opportunities is a student even if it's not directly tied to your major. The origin of student councils than team, finding your Y and defining a personal mission statement deciding on career paths in finance and accounting, leaning into your personal curiosity in the thesis process. Using your home college is resources in addition to the honors colleges and the job search. Finding unique opportunities by looking past a company's primary product, working as an institutional investor on the by side, the broad array of options for business majors, all things esg as an emerges in the investment industry, building a business unit or club from stretch and why Uma joined Center Square and working in finance strategy. She also talks about jumping an opportunities like sharing your knowledge on TV with little notice, getting involved in your professional community beyond your job and ESG, and sustainability in real estate, the built environment and even in other industries and disciplines. She wraps up by talking about finding your purpose, the importance of continual life long learning, and special shoutouts for the college is staff and how and why you should connect with them, and leaves off with the power of the Penn state network. So let's jump right into our conversation with UMA. Following the Gong Uma, thank you so much for joining us here today on following the gone really looking forward to a great conversation on the finance industry, on real estate, on sustainability. But first I want to start at the beginning and asked how did you come to Penn State and the Shuire Honors College to begin with? Hey, Shawana, thanks for having me. Yeah, that's a great question. So where I went to high school, Penn State, was like grade thirteen, and I knew that I was going to be really comfortable coming to Penn State as as a school in general. But what I was really looking for out of my college...

...experience was having kind of that big state school, the football school, that experience. But the reputation of the Honors College, the close knit community, was something that I found to me really special in the context of that really large atmosphere, and so I would say that's that's what kind of brought me, brought me a happy valley. Great I think you summed up the honors college very well. I want to dive into academics first and then we'll talk about your outside of the classroom experiences. So you have two bachelors. You have a degree in finance and in accounting and you also got your Mac which is a masters of accounting. Can you talk through what drew you to those discipline specifically and how you handled presumably doing an iug or, the very least, getting a graduate degree on top of your your two bachelor's degrees. Yeah, so you know, I came into Penn state definitely know I wanted to pursue finance and I took one accounting class and realize that I wasn't going to do really good at finance unless I really understood accounting. And in in the business school the only way for you to get that dual degree and finance and accounting is actually through the MAC program and so that's how I kind of added that on and I was actually, thankfully, able to come into Penn state with a good number of ape credits and so that took care of most of my jen eds. And so what I was able to focus on during my four years at Penn state was really just kind of knocking out the degree requirements for those degrees. But but it was it was great because I was able to kind of leverage the fact that I was in the honors college to work with smeal to say hey, I can, I can manage to take this on and get it done in four years and do it well and they had the confidence of me will be able to do that, because that was in the Honors College. So I think I was able to kind of finadle my schedule around just of that. I was able to get through that within four years and it was it was actually not too intensive in the sense I think I think I maybe had one semester where I had eighteen credits, but aside from that I was taking like twelve to fifteen credits each semester, and so it's still allowed me to do a lot of things outside of academics during my time at Penn State, even though I was able to get through, you know, and four years with the masters and to to Bachelors as well. There's an opportunity in the honors college to open a lot of doors. Not Everything is possible, I think that's a common misconception, but when you have tri or scholar next to your name like you did, as you said, it allowed you to work with the staff at this Mill College of business to craft your schedule and be able to accomplish really good things on time in four years. So something for you as a listener to take into consideration there. Now you just mentioned that you were involved in other things on campus, and I know you shared your list of these with me in advance, but I'd love to hear about your leadership roles that you held on campus and, most importantly, how those helped prepare you for your career ahead after college. Yeah, so, so, actually something that I forgot to tell you as to my path to Penn state. Part of that actually was also the number of times I've visited Penn State to attend though on so my high school did a many thought and as part of that I frequently attended thought on campus, and so I knew when I came to Penn state that was something that I wanted to continue doing. At the time, the Honors College didn't actually have a thought group. There were several, you know, special interest organizations that were that had their foundations whether the Honors College, like Atlas in Springfield, but there wasn't an actual, like Shry or Honors College Thought Group. So I...

...started that my freshman year and that was kind of part of the student council and served as Thawn Chair for that group my four years at Penn State. Also participated in thought as a company member on morale, which I think is dance their relations these days. And I was a finance captain as well and then, aside from thon, I was part of the homecoming organization, served on the executive committee my senior year as the merchandise director, and I would say in terms of just my student leadership experience at Penn State, it taught me a lot of soft skills in terms of, you know, setting targets and managing other people to achieve those targets. And I think most importantly, what that really kind of ingrained in me was this desire and ability to create an impact. And whether that wasn't impact with an organization, whether that wasn't impact and more externally across the community, or was then thought were paired with, you know, to thon kids into four times families and say, like, what was the impact that you were having on the lives of other people? And in that desire and the ability to create an impact is something that really drives a lot of what I'm doing today and something that actually pulled me into this role that I'm in now versus where I kind of initially thought I was going to be when I started out in my career. So I would say that kind of like desire to create an impact is something that was really instilled in me during my time at Penn state through those leadership roles and something that I kind of carry carry on today. I think that speaks to the importance of the sea in the mission statement, that creating opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. This is the place where you, as a scholar, can really hone, as you called them, the soft stills, the leadership, the Co Communications, the organization, these are things that you can take into any role, regardless of industry. Now, obviously you were doing great things on campus. You mentioned thought, you mentioned homecoming. Obviously Penn state staples, but I'd be curious, did you have any pre professional opportunities outside of campus, perhaps any internships or coops that helped prepare you for your career? Yeah, you know. So it's interesting that you you point out the fact that all of my kind of extra curriculars on campus were not really to what I do professionally, and I do kind of go back and think about okay, was like if I were part of the Nati line fund or things like that that were much more directly related to what I do today, like how would how would that have changed my overall kind of just like for your trajectory or whatever it may be. But but I think in terms of what I was able to actually do on campus again, it kind of really instilled in me this like sense of purpose, which I don't know I would have necessarily gotten the same level of exposure to that specific aspect of who I am as a person if I were doing something only very career oriented on campus. But, like you mentioned, I was able to obviously do that through kind of internships and that type of stuff, and so I would say from from that perspective, I enterned at deloit in New York City the summer before I graduated doing financial advisory, and that was something that I had actually gotten into through through smeal. I think smeal is a really fantastic job in terms of just exposing students to different opportunities across different careers. But something that I also found was that typically, if you're in accounting, you get exposed with ton of like big four accounting firms, like you're going to be a CPA if you're an accountant, or if you're in finance, see you kind of get pushed into a lot of you know, exposures to consulting firms or investment banking like...

...those are kind of the avenues that you that you go to if you're in finance, and so kind of that financial advisory through a consulting type of a firm was something that fit more between that balance of accounting and finance for me, but I also realized that that was not not what I wanted to do. So it was a great experience. got a ton of great, you know networks, I think, out of that process, but ultimately ended up going a slightly different route when I when I started my job after after Penn State. Before we go into it, that first job was what did you do for your thesis? So it for my thesis I had to kind of come by accounting and finance in a way so I could kind of get that honors and Interdisciplinary area across both both degrees. And so what I did was actually looked at the impact of earnings manipulation and the ability for that to predict stock returns, and so that earnings manipulation was kind of the accounting aspect of my thesis and it pulled up factors from financial statements. You're looking at receivables and things like that and then kind of translating that into stock returns and understanding the market dynamics from that perspective. was kind of the finance aspect, and so I effectively used a factor that measures earnings manipulation across a couple different and relationships that are pulled up out of financial statements, added that to the famb of French three factor model and found that it actually did increase the predictability of that model in terms of understanding stock returns in the market. So that was my thesis. Focus that specifically on kind of thecom era, the early S, and use that to kind of understand how earnings moibulation factors in a lot of these companies that eventually did go bust, you know how that went into actually predicting their their market performance. Fascinating stuff this, especially with you know, immediately thought of Enron and some of those other companies from that ear. I'm sure you looked at him, which obviously, if you take any accounting class, that's like case study number one in what not to do. I'd be curious, as kind of a follow up, the takeaways, whether the process or the skills or the even the direct results. Are you still using the the these experience in your current role? Kind of? So a lot of you know what I did during that thesis was a ton of just kind of data collection, regression models, back testing, things like that, and I do use that in some capacity today in in the role that I have. But but something I think that was that was really interesting and helpful during the process was really using your own kind of, I would say like thought process and your own curiosity to completely drive this, this whole project that you're working on right. So everything else that use it up Penn state was kind of predetermined. It was like, Oh, you're going to take this class and then this class you're going to learn about X, Y and Z, and this was an opportunity to say, okay, well, here's kind of what I'm really interested in and like this is what really gets my gears going, and you were able to find the faculty and and kind of the resources to help you really pursue that, I would say, kind of like very unique thing that you find to be most interesting and that's something that others find to be interesting. So I thought, I think that just kind of like that creativity that's required and thinking about things a little bit differently and going after things a little bit differently. That's something I use a lot of today. Now. Earlier you mentioned that you had an internship in you decided that that space was not what you wanted to do, which is obviously a great takeaway...

...to learn that. Can you walk us through you know, on top of writing your thesis, you're also job searching. Can you walk us through that process and tell us how you ended up in your first roll out of college? Yeah, so I had an offer to return to deloy after I graduated and I I was kind of just exploring other options out there and through the career services site for Smeal, I was just, I again, like looking at all these different opportunities out there. It was interesting because again, like I mentioned, a lot of kind of the networking that happened through smeal. If you were in finance, you went to kind of consulting or banking, or if you were in a county, you went to the big four. And I was looking for something a little bit different and stumbled upon an opportunity to work at x on and this opportunity was interesting mainly because, a for my internship, I knew it what I didn't want to do, but I had yet to kind of find what it is that I did want to do, and this opportunity to Exon was this like very, very broad scope within the world of finance. He went in and they had this rotational program and it covered everything from like their Treasury Department to investor relations to internal audit and like everything in between, and so I thought that was an interesting opportunity, mainly because it would allow me to kind of dip my toe in the water and a bunch of different aspects of the world of finance and kind of maybe figure out what it is that I did want to do. It was also based in Houston. Had never lived in Texas and so figured you know, why not? Sounds like a fun adventure here, and so that's what I kind of ended up pursuing. And and when I got there, I actually was not even really working for x on this big oil and gas company. I was working for their global technology company, which felt kind of like they had picked up the Silicon Valley Tech Company and like put it in the middle of Houston, Texas, and it was now creating really cool text solutions for a large corporation. And so that's kind of what I ended up doing and it was this great exposure to kind of again that like creative thought process, right, because in this world of technology, the whole premise was, okay, what are certain paint points that we see in the business and how can we actually either solve them or like completely flip them on their heads and turn this into like a really cool opportunity for how we work and live in this kind of global world? And so that kind of creative, that process that I got to really pursue within that organization was really, really cool. I'm curious. So you mentioned the technology. Did you pick up anything about the energy industry overall while you were at at Exon? So the the things that I picked up about the energy industry while I was at x on. We're really through these like mandated incoming class like here's here's like energy one hundred and one and and things like that. Like everybody that that got hired into x on had to go through certain numbers of trainings during your first couple years, and that's kind of that was like the extent, I would say, of my exposure to the oil and gas energy industry. The bulk of what I did was really focused on technology. Obviously, if you're listening to this, you saw the title, you've read the description, and so we know that you no longer worked a x I mobile, but you work at a company called Center Square and you made a pivot from the tech in the energy sector at as I'm able, to real estate. Can you talk about what drew you to transition to the real estate side of finance? Yeah, so,...

...to kind of just kind of lay lay the ground here, center square is a real estate focus investment manager. We have about fifteen billion assets center management that we are managing on behalf of, you know, some of the most wellknown institutional investors out there. And so when I say institutional investors, think pension funds for one case things like that. We're not necessarily investing on behalf of individuals. We're investing on behalf of pensions for school teachers and firefighters and police officers and things like that. What what I learned, also during my time at x on, was that I was an investor at heart. I was at x on making some investment decisions from an internal perspective of how you wanted to spend capital to fund these technology projects that were going to change the way that Xon did business ten fifteen years down the road. But really what I was super, super fascinated with was this world of just like the capital markets. Wanted to be an investor and I wanted to be on the byside, and the opportune to get center square kind of opened up also at at the time when I was looking to move back from Texas back to Pennsylvania or into the northeast in general to be closer to home and and all that good stuff. And and so it was kind of just like this perfect store that that came together and and I had this opportunity that opened up out a byside firm and it happened to be in real estate. I wouldn't say that was like specifically what I was seeking out. I was seeking out an investment role in the northeast and I found this company that was much smaller and so x on at the time that I was there was like Seventyzero people globally. Center Square when I joined them was like seventy people across five different offices right and so it was like a very, very dramatic change in in the type of business that I would be working with, and that was super exciting for me because if we go back to the initial conversation about me wanting to make an impact, when I was an ext I was one of Seventyzero people and like I could literally just not show up for three weeks and I think they would be fine, etc. Square, I feel like a much bigger part of the equation. Things that I do have a much bigger impact. Like I said, we're we're managing about fifteen billion dollars and our investment teams, if our entire company is, you know, at now, we're at closer to like a hundred people. The investment team that's actually making decisions and how we are allocating that capital and investing that capital is much smaller. I still on an investment team for our, you know, listed real estate business and I'm one of what fifteen people managing close to eight nine billion dollars of capital, and so decisions that I make, things that I do have a much bigger impact on that process and that was really interesting to me. So that's kind of what what drew me to center square. It was the culture, was the ability to have an impact within the organization. It was the fact that I wanted to do something on the investment side of things and it was an opportunity that opened up close to home at the same time that I was looking for for that change, and so all the stars ligned. It just happened to be something within the real estate realm got it. I think that was really enlightening. I know I just learned a lot as the host here. So for you listening, I hope that you were able to take away something and Umatrict me I from wrong. But it sounds like in finance, if you have the stills, the finance, the accounting understanding, you can easily, with some work of course, translate them from one industry to another. Is that accurate? Yeah, and I think in terms of the breadth of...

...opportunities, they're out there. If you do have a degree in business, very, very broad right, and so you can be internal within a company and if you're internal with that company, you can be doing anything, again, from like investor relations and raising capital and treasury management and kind of managing your cash exposure or doing corporate reporting if that's what you want to do, or internal audit, like there are so many different aspects. If you're internally, you know, serving a specific company, if you want to be in consulting, you know, when you're externally kind of servicing many other companies. That can be through a consulting role and that can be through like, you know, a big four accounting role and you're doing audits and assurance work for other companies. Or if you're an investment banking you can do that if you're if you want to be more so kind of on like the direct investment side of things. Again, so many different opportunities and you can join a fund that's a generalists and you'd be able to invest in a whole slope of different industry rasor you could join an investment fund like center square that is very much so specialized in the real estate space. So yeah, I mean I think that the world of finance and general is so broad and it as much as it is a positive, it can also just mean that it takes a little while free to really figure out where you fit in, which is fine right. Like I today, if you would have asked me maybe like five years ago, like Oh, what do you think you'll be doing in five years, like this is never in a million years what I would have been like, yeah, this is I'm going to be doing like green building investment like that's that what I thought I would be doing at all. So it takes it to a little while, I think, to really figure out what you want to do. If if you have this broader desire to do something in finance but don't necessarily know what it is, the plus side is that the world is your oyster. The downside of it in some situations can be that it just means it takes a little while to figure out where you really fit in. I think that is really helpful for students to hear and some really good insight. Now you mentioned the green buildings and I want to get into the meat of what you are currently doing at Center Square. In the print materials you said you helped stand up an ESG group. Can you talk us through both what ESG is and also the process of standing up an entirely new unit within a bigger business? I think that's a very entrepreneurial thing that maybe doesn't get as much attention or as many stories, and I love to hear about your experience and you know what students can take from what you learned in that process. Yeah, so esg stands for environmental, social and governance. It is a new, but extremely, I would say, snowballing, type of a phenomenon within the investment world. Basically, the premise of this is that, you know, way back in the day, people used to only invest for the purpose of returns. I'm not saying this is like entirely what the entire investment world was, but like your goal was to produce Alpha for your clients when and when I say Alpha, I mean excess returns. I more recently, and this is something that I think has been very prevalent within Europe and is now more so becoming a larger part of the universe in the US, is okay, how do we actually think about investing, but in...

...a much more holistic fashion, and the world of kind of impact investing has become more topical and and impact investing, or investing in general, has has this kind of spectrum right. And so on one side is philanthropy, where you are effectively just giving money to a cause and expecting effectively no return, and on the other side is just like your traditional investment process, where impact was not necessarily part of the consideration. And then somewhere in between is this concept of ESG investing, and what ESG investing truly is is a value based proposition. And so when I say it's a value based proposition, it just means that you are looking at your investment decisions from not only a financial perspective in terms of understanding the financial risks and opportunities associated with your investment, but you are also looking at the environmental and social and governance risks and opportunities associated with your investment. And so it does a much more holistic and therefore a value based proposition because it makes you a smarter investor. And so that would be kind of different from impact investing, which is a values based proposition where you are investing for a very specific impact or purpose. And so that, for example, could be something like an endowment that has been created and state, for example, right like the the the foundations and endowments of this world that have been created with a very specific purpose. That would kind of fall more so into that impact investing process, but within this ESG world. So and I, as a real state investor, I you know, I think sometimes some of these things can be a little bit like conceptual and up in the air. So when I say like I think about yet real estate investing from an Environmental Lens. For example, hurricane IDA that just swept through literally drowned like half of the northeast right. So how do you think about real estate investments? And so much of the most valuable real estate in the US is in areas like Manhattan, areas like Boston, both areas that are being impacted by climate change, rising sea levels and the impact of more severe weather events happening like Hurricane Ida. And so how do you think about the risks and opportunities of investing in a real estate asset that is located in one of those markets that is exposed to environmental concerns like that? Environmental due diligence of an investment might not necessarily be part of the traditional investment process, but when you invest from an ees sheet Lens, you do pick up that risk and you're able to then make sure that you're investing your capital in that asset in the context of what environment until risks could come up. So that's kind of just like what ESG investing is. Does that make sense? Yes, that is the best explanation I've heard or read to date, so I appreciate that. I'm also appreciate that. Thank you for clarifying the difference between the values and value based investing. I think that is really helpful. Yeah, so, and that kind of brings me to how I stood up this esg capability within Center Square. It kind of it was again, that's like perfect storm. We had a client that was looking for a real estate investment manager with this eesg capability. I am the daughter of an environmental engineer, so sustainability has been like part of my life blood since day one, something that I...

...am super, super passionate about, and it was just an interesting way of looking at investing in real state that we weren't doing internally, but something that I that had, you know, value from a business standpoint. Again, like I mentioned, esg investing is a value based proposition and when you can demonstrate the fact that you can add value, that's really powerful, and so that was kind of what was needed to kind of stand up this whole new capability that we had at center square. Was the fact that we had, you know, clients and capital that wanted to come to us looking for this kind of a solution. It was something that I was super passionate about and willing to spend time on building up, and it was also something that just made good business sense because it was going to be profitable and in the long run. So all that kind of put together meant that I had the support of the management team to kind of, you know, run with it and and it was just a matter of getting started. It took a lot of time. I was doing this in addition to the job I already had, which already was like wearing five, six different hats, and so it was kind of effectively just having the passion for having the business viewpoint of okay, this is actually something that's going to help us in the long run, it's something that's going to create value for for our company, and then and I'm proving that out. And so that was once he wants you to that. It was kind of, you know, the world is your oyster in terms of in terms of building up this capability, and I have to imagine you may have drawn on your student council experience building up the thond group trying to translate to building out this new business unit. Is that a fair assumption? Yeah, absolutely, you know, and I think part of it is the fact that you have to have some sort of a vision, you have to have some sort of kind of I would say, like an elevator pitch right to kind of like bring other people on board and and share in your vision, to give you that support that you need within the student council. That was okay. We as a college and Honors College are the only we're at the time we were like the only academic colleg side didn't have its own thought group, like MS had its own son group and like Smeel had its own thing and like every other academic college had its own though group, and I was like where's like the Honors College representation, because we do have so many really, really passionate people and we have this organization that was already kind of prebuilt and in the student council and will be really easy to kind of translate that into here. Is kind of where we create a brand for the honors college within the thought community, and that was kind of, you know, the cell to the honors collar, so, which is great and it was something that I was passionate about. So like all that kind of came together very, you know, beautifully. Similarly, here, you know, we the real estate investment space, especially within listed rule state. There was really not a single competitor out there that was trying to build from an EESG perspective what I was trying to create at Center Square, and it was something that we could create a brand for ourselves as kind of the leaders within the industry in assessing ESG aspects of every investment and it was something that would bring in capital. We're running a billion dollars today for an es g mandate, which is awesome, and you know, so when you have the ability to kind of prove out the business case and have this mission and bring other people into, like your vision of what you want to create, that's pretty much what it is right like you have this visual you just have to sell that vision to other people and bring them on board. So yeah, definite. I...

...would definitely say that kind of parallels to what what I experienced with the honors college when it came to building out that Song Group. And you'll be pleased to hear that the student councils than group is still going strong. They have dancers. So your legacy there is running strong and I think your legacy that you're building at Center Square hopefully we'll continue at that same level. In the premterials, you shared that you get to go on TV quite a bit as a consultant for different programs, presumably like CNBC and others. Can you talk a little bit about what that is like and how students, if you know, down the road they get asked to be interviewed by, say, the daily Colegion in Rome or state or other media outlets down the road in their career. How do you approach that? Yeah, so I'll kind of back up a little bit to tell you what I do at Center Square, which is what got me into that opportunity. So when I came into Center Square, I actually came in because of my strategy experience at x on, where I was at x on, I was sitting in rooms with the VP running the entire global technology company and his executive team and we would have these like really interesting strategic conversations about where to take the business in the future and that was kind of the environment that I was used to. At the time that I joined Center Square, the company was getting ready for a management buy out and so it was at the time a subsidiary of being ymelon and we wanted to be an independent asset manager and once we became independent through that process of a management buy out, it meant that kind of we had the ability to do whatever it was that we wanted to do to grow the company, like all shackles were off and like we were ready to be as entrepreneurial to grow the company any which way. And that kind of strategy perspective is what I was brought on to do. So I was hired by the chief investment strategies there to kind of, you know, help grow the company across various different kinds of aspects, and so I came in with us like Investment Strategy Role, and part of that also meant like new product development. It meant thought leadership and how do we at Center Square, where we have investment platforms and listed real estate, so we're investing in the stock market globally. We invest in private ecly real estate where we're physically, you know, buying and running in the virtual real estate assets. We have a private debt platform where we're lending on real estate, and so we get to see the real estate market through a couple different lenses which effectively cover like the entirety of the capital Stack of investing in real state. And so part of this investment strategy role is to also think, okay, how do we invest in role state and the most smart, intelligent and formed way across our entire capital stack. Like at Center Square, we're able to get a lot of real time information from the stock markets globally. We're able to get some really great information, like from the ground across our debt neckarty platforms and how we put that together to create a holistic and well informed investment strategy around role estate. And so that that and kind of combined with the thought leadership, which is where, you know, I'm writing like white papers for the firm. I'm doing a lot of, you know, publications, so would say like real estate investment publications that go out on like a coarly basis. We're writing pieces for that, articles for that pretty regularly, and so that kind of role that I have is what lends itself to doing broadcast as well. That was something that I started...

...more recently and it's it's a little bit surreal, mainly just because I use like, you know, be like sitting in the sweel building and like looking at the news, you'd be like, oh my gosh, these people are so cool and like they know all the stuff that finance and the I'm doing it and like the interesting thing is that like within that conversation I'm the expert on real estate investing, like that's what I do all day, every day, and so, you know, we were we work with a really great pr team and they were able to of get a couple clips that had. We've like done a couple webinars and things like that at center square internally, and they were like hey, you're really good at talking to people and my previously it was just a chief investment strategist to my bass that was doing all these broadcast interviews and they're like, you know, he's he's getting busy and we want to have like a wider birth of people that can do this. You're good at talking to people. Do Mind if we get you like trained up for this? And I was like yeah, that would be so cool. So we did like a couple trainings, so stuff like that, and so yeah, I mean it's it's a really interesting opportunity, something that definitely comes a little bit easier if you're just naturally good at public speaking or that's kind of like a skill set that you have built up and work on. But part of it was to the fact that like I had a champion for me within the firm that like believed in my ability to do so and it was something that the firm needed, something that I was willing to do, and it takes time, it takes practice. I would definitely say the the first one that I did. Funny Enough, I was actually on vacation that day in central Pennsylvania looking for wedding venues and I got a call from from my boss be like Hey, I know you're off today, but you're going to be on TV and two hours as like what I'm like in the car in the middle of Amish country, like all my way to go look at this wedding venue. So to like run home to my parents house. They live outside Harrisburg, and all I had with me were Jim close like I was not in any work attired and any way, shape or form, had to steal my mom's clothes, had to steal her makeup. Was Like in my dad's office. Hadn't showered yet. So really shocked that I like actually looked presentable. But yeah, you like get on and at least right now, like all the stuff is happening virtually right so I'm just on like a zoom call with the correspondent and it's easier because it's just like I'm having a conversation with you or anybody else, and that's fine. I'm curious to see how this translates when we're back in person and I'm like in a studio setting or something, but yeah, it's just mean, it's just effectively, at the end of the day, once I got over the fact that this was like a really cool thing and got over my nerves, it was just like having a conversation with anybody else, in understanding that in that situation specifically, I was I was a subject matter expert and what we were talking about. So naturally this was this is pretty normal for you then doing this podcast, so I appreciate that you were able to bring that to the table today and good advice for students if they're able to take advantage and opportunity like that. But also a nugget in there that you shared was you had an advocate in your firm who helped push you for this. So try and find those folks no matter what industry you're in. So when make sure you can take that out of that piece as well. Now I have one more specific to real estate question for you, and it could also translate to really any industry. But you were very active in your industry space outside of your specific job and outside of being that thought leader in these press pieces. Can you tell us...

...about both the why and the how of these other areas that you're involved in on different boards, whether a pain state or elsewhere? What drew you to those and how you go about actually getting involved beyond just your core job? Yeah, so I think part of it is really the fact that I wouldn't center square. I am the only person, or not only person, but I like lead our ESG at first right. And so what I am trying to learn about rule state investing, I am surrounded by really at Royal Estate Investors at Center Square. What I want to learn about real estate sustainability, I have to go outside the firm because nobody else in the firm has that very specific expertise. And so to kind of learn more about the green building space, I had to go outside the firm to build that skill set. And so and in that regard I'm, you know, lead certified and part of the US Green Building Council's Philadelphia chapter, which is Green Building United, and I sit on their policy and advocacy committee where we are really trying to understand the policies in surrounding kind of the built environment that are either happening currently or in the pipeline. Like right now we're looking at providing some input for the Philadelphia City that's looking at, you know, putting together some new left electrification requirements for buildings. Like what does that mean for the built environment and how that plays into have our long term goal of reducing carbon emissions and getting to kind of this like world of Netzy Room. The reason rule estate is very, very crucial and that path is because globally, rural state accounts for about forty percent of green has gas emissions, which is massive right. And so as we think about this like long term target which exists across Europe, slowly we're starting to see that come through in the Biden Administration. Like this goal of achieving net zero is impossible to do without having some sort of an impact on rule estate and reducing the carbon load and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings and the built environment. So learning about that, learning how to design retrofit buildings from this kind of Sustainability Lens, how to understand the implications from financial perspective associated with achieving those targets and how to incorporate that into how we think about investing in real estate is super, super important, something that I need to be an expert on wood and Center Square and something that I've found networks to help me understand. And so my like green building network includes like architects and, you know, energy engineers and urban planners and all of these people with different kind of very specific, niche skill sets that are helping me learn how to understand the sustainability of the built environment and then translate that into my role at Center Square. And and it's something again, like I said, I'm super, super passionate about. Some I'm also trying to push the industry more broadly and in that and that way. And so the CO chair of the Sustainability Committee for Ny Ring, which is a rule state investment management organization in the US, and because I think sustainability and looking at finance through an Eesg Lens is so critical, I'm also on the Sustainability Advisory Commit on advisory board for some meal, and so looking at how do we incorporate this concept of sustainability across every kind of aspect of how we do business, because today ESG is like the standalone thing. Sustainability is something that, like,...

...a lot of companies will have targets for, and it's not just like within any one industry, like the oil and gas industry is currently completely getting decimated by activist investors like engine number one, that are coming in and taking like for board seats and saying, like here's how the oil and gas industry needs to get ready for the future, which is not going to be run on fossil fuels or in like the transportation industry, like aviation, things like that. How do you find more sustainable, more efficient ways of actually transporting goods or in people? You're seeing, you know, consulting companies come up with like energy efficiency targets. You're seeing the concept of reducing our impact on the environment or even like in the last eighteen months, I think there has been this massive focus on diversity, equity and inclusion because of the black lives matter movement. How do companies think about the impact act they're having within their workforce, within their communities? That's kind of that social aspect of ESG that I focus on. So from like that environmental, that social perspective, it's kind of creepy into every business and it's creeping into every part of every business right and so when you think about smeal and the majors you can have, from a finance perspective, how are you investing your capital in the best way to achieve certain goals? From a supply chain perspective, like how are you actually transporting goods in the most efficient way? From marketing perspective, how are you conveying your purpose and your mission and your messaging around these issues super important. So like every aspect of of how we do business as being impacted by ESG and sustainability, and so the you know, being part of like the the advisory board for SMEAL, it's like how do we how do we integrate that thought process into the curriculum so that students graduate and enter the workforce with this like deep understanding and prebuilt knowledge on how their actions and their specific skill sets within a company can help further these types of issues, and it's not something that, like, a lot of business schools out there really focus on, and so it's a great way for smeal to create a brand and say like hey, we are incorporating esg. It's sustainability and to every aspect of how we are actually grooming the students to come into the real world where these things matter today, and it's only going to grow in important. So Super, super excited about that. But yeah, so I would like in terms of the things that I do outside of work, again very much so, either helping me learn things that I don't know or helping kind of further that that impact and that mission that I want to have more broadly and in the finance and business world of pushing us in kind of that purpose driven way. That is incredible and I really appreciate that you're doing that work here at Penn State and in this Middle College business. I expect nothing less from a scholar Alumna like yourself. You've done all of this in only a few years out of school and so obviously you don't have the longest career to think back on, but I'd be curious on what you would say is your biggest success so far and also what's the biggest mistake that you made and what you learned from both of those things. Yes, I would say in terms of biggest success has is figuring out what it is that makes me tick, and it is this like very cool intersection of purpose and impact and investing. Like that's where I find something that is so fulfilling from a work perspective that it look really, really drives me to do the best that I can, and so being able to kind of bring that into Center Square and build this SG capability that...

...we didn't have I would be'st like far and above my, I think, my proudest, biggest accomplishment. From a mistake perspective, it's the actual act. is going to sound a little bit silly, but I think the learning from it is really important. It was actually my very first job at Exxon. I replied all to an email that went to like my entire department and it was it was like a funny thing that was meant for like one person who would have found it hilarious, but it went out to the entire department with no context, and so I was like mortified of what was going to happen and I was just like new girl that had just joined the team fresh out of college and like this girl can't even send emails. But the learning, I would say, from that is just this like very aggressive attention to detail is so important and it's it's like the little things that you do or you don't do that help build trust within your workplace and with the relationships that you have, and if you don't have that trust, it's difficult to really do big things and be able to do them on their on your own. And I say that in the sense that, like, if I did it have the attention to detail in terms of the work that I do at Center Square, the people that have given me free reign to kind of like run with my esg world would not have trusted me to do so. And so I would just say that, like attention to detail, being aware of like the little things that are required to really build trust within an organization are so, so important. Great advice varied in all of that and throughout this entire conversation. Uma, I'm be curious, is there any last pieces of advice that you wanted to share that just organically, have not come up yet in our conversation? Constantly learning is really important. I and I can I can say this from like the world of finance that I sit in, where I am on the Investment Committee for a for a real asset, you know, listed asset, kind of world, where we're investing in a global stock market that is radically changing all day every day. I lived through, as we live through collectively, the the chaos of, you know, the last kind of eighteen months of the impact of like the pandemic on the capital markets and what that meant and how do you kind of get through that and blah, blah, Blah Blah. But it was it was just like chaotic time. But again, you're like constantly learning, right. So, like if you don't know what's happening with like ever grand and China and the housing market there, you don't understand how to kind of translate that into what's happening with the stock market here or in Europe. And if you you know, you had to be aware of like what's going on with Bregsit and you have to be aware of like this and that and this and that. So this is like constant learning of like everything that's happening around you, and it just it it's it's so important to kind of be able to look at things from new and different perspectives, which again requires you to be like open to the information that's out there. So I would just say kind of being open and being constantly learning and being this like sponge of information is is like a very powerful skill set to have just because it makes you just so much more informed. I think it's very, very applicable specifically to what I do, because I it impacts my job, but even outside of that, I think you know, being able to talk to a lot of the different types of things that are...

...happening around the world and learning from them and and being better for it. I think is is really important in the in the grand scheme of things. I think that's to the building a global perspective tenant of the College's mission statements. So being aware of everything that's going on around you and continually learning. Is there anybody from your scholar days that you'd like to give a quick shout out to? Maybe a thesis advisor or friends from student counsel or anything like that? I would actually point to the fantastic staff within the honors college. I think they were super, super helpful in terms of being this fantastic support system to like feed into everything that I wanted to do as a student leader and like be there for that. In like Lisa's been great from like the career perspective and Donna has been great from like building, you know, the essay, like the than group, and I just think they've like always, they're always there. So I would definitely say, you know, I think they've they've been a big part of me being able to kind of do what I wanted to do during my time at my time at Penn State. For the record, I did not ask you to shout them out, but I learned agree with with that. Lisa Kurtins de Donna Myer fantastic colleagues of mine, great resource for students. If you haven't met them yet, highler, recommend getting in touch with them and with some of our other staff here in the college that are here to help. There's a link in the description on how you can book an appointment with some of them. But definitely agree with you there when they're fantastic. If a student wants to continue this conversation with you and learn more about sustainability, about real estate, about finance, about ESG, how can they connect with you? You can reach out to me on Linkedin. You can follow me on twitter. Yeah, open, open to being here as a resource for students that want to, you know, want to get into the wonderful and growing world of ESG investing. Excellent as this tradition here on. Following the gone, our final question. If you were a flavor of Burkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And, most importantly, as a scholar, why that flavor? I think alumniceworld, first and foremost. It's my favorite. It's absolutely delicious, but also it's just like I'm so proud to be an alum of this like fantastic, brilliant university. The alumni network itself, I think, is super, super powerful. It's something that a lot of people talk about. It's something that I have personally experienced. When I moved down to Houston, I am you, like three other people, and I made all these friends and it's like massive network of people because they were all penn state alum that were down in Houston and like wanted to be family with every pen stater that they ever saw. Like even from like a career perspective, have been able to leverage that alumni network to reach out to people again, like to learn more about impact investing or green building or whatever it may be, and I have never once had a bad experience. Like if I reach out to a penn state alum and say, Hey, I graduated from Penn State, I you know, I'm trying to learn about this or I'm trying to do this or whatever. Their doors of always been open and I think that's such a cool thing to have, just in terms of like a support system that is constantly there and and wants to see succeed, even if they don't know you like. You have this commonality of being a pen stater and it stays with you for life, and I think that's super cool. That is a great reason to pick a great flavor that we are spirit just goes wherever you go as a pen stater Uma. Thank you so much for joining me today. I learned a lot. I hope you listening, learned a lot. Really appreciate you taking the time to share all of your great insights and advice. So thank you. Yeah, thanks for having me. This was really fun. Thank you,...

...scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shuire Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays DOT PSU DOT Edu. Forward Slash shreire please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say uptodate on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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