Dazzle Bhujwala: Tackling Global Challenges Through Sustainable Finance

At Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies, Dazzle Bhujwala ('18SPS, Sustainability Management):

• Received the 2017 Earth Institute Sustainability Management Fellowship
• Earned Teaching Assistant positions for three courses, supporting and guiding over 100 graduate students towards their coursework in sustainable investing
• Won SPS Leadership Award 2017 for launching and leading Columbia Sustainable Finance Professionals Network (CSFPN) that connects academia with the financial industry to develop and promote sustainable finance solutions
• Joined the Advisory Board of BLAK Fintech, promoting financial inclusion by empowering the financially excluded to build wealth
• Selected among 700 graduate students and scholars to be the face of International House annual fund-raising appeal letter

Where are you from?

I am a global citizen who has embarked on a journey to find solutions to challenges that transcend borders and cultures. Originally from India, I have lived and worked in Asia, Middle East, and the United States. I am leveraging my business and finance experience to recognize the vital interplay between economic, societal, and ecological issues by steering private wealth towards solutions that address climate change, the need for energy revolution, and technological disruption.

Tell me about your career prior to coming to Columbia.

A self-starter by nature, I push myself to explore territories that are beyond my comfort zone. I paved my path from an intern to director while working with world’s leading financial institutions. Over the years, hard work, an appetite for continuous learning and a collaborative mindset made me win several multimillion dollar investor relationships. I have been a trusted advisor to high net-worth investors, through their journey of wealth accumulation, preservation and succession.

What drew you to sustainability management?

Financial crisis, technological disruption, and climate-conscious consumerism have driven several organizations to reconsider their traditional business models. This has led to growth of unexplored and innovative business opportunities. A rapidly evolving global economy requires an equally adaptive approach to investment management. The Sustainability Management program has added a new dimension to my investment advisory career. It has prepared me to focus on environmental, social and governance related risks and opportunities to enhance investment value for my investors, while transitioning towards a low carbon economy, and creating a positive environmental and social impact.

Why did you choose a sustainability program in New York City?

New York’s multiculturalism and rich history make it the most dynamic and exciting city in the world. It is also the world’s financial capital. With Columbia University being based in the heart of Manhattan, one has access to practitioners, research and resources of leading organizations. In New York city one is spoilt for choice for learning and networking opportunities, that offer a perspective on the most up to date global challenges and solutions.

Columbia’s Sustainability Management program is offered in collaboration with The Earth Institute. This is among the world’s largest and leading scientific research centers. Access to the institute’s academic and scientific resources and one-on-one discussions with scientists studying subjects such as Extreme Weather Conditions, Sea Level Rise, etc. makes time at Columbia a stimulating and enriching experience.

Additionally, I got the opportunity to live at International House, few blocks from campus that houses a diverse community of the most intellectual scholars from over 100 countries. All this helped me to launch Columbia Sustainability Finance Professionals Network (CSFPN) that connects academia and sustainability practitioners to develop and promote sustainability solutions.

What’s next for you after graduation?

I feel my career has come a full circle, from managing wealth for an elite few to advising a startup that democratizes finance. Currently I work with a startup that empowers the financially excluded to build wealth through financial literacy and by offering affordable, tech-driven personal financial products and services. Additionally, launching CSFPN and leading its success has broadened my professional network and has opened several opportunities for me. My goals is to settle with a team whose focus is creating ESG/Impact investing strategies and building strategic partnerships to steer private wealth towards investments that support sustainable development goals.

From your inside perspective, what benefit does the program offer to professionals?

I feel employment in the near future is less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn. Sustainability stems first from personal values and second as a business priority. Once these thoughts are aligned, the program gives you a platform to hone your skills and build a network in your areas of interest, be it sustainable finance, renewable energy, clean water, or smart cities. Adding these specialties to one’s expertise can help professionals further their existing careers or transition to tomorrow’s job.

Learn more about the M.S. in Sustainability Management program at Columbia University’s School of Professional Studies.