State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

ESP Alum Employs Program Skills in Environmental Finance Work

MPA in Environmental Science and Policy alum John Battaglia ('08)
MPA in Environmental Science and Policy alum John Battaglia (’08)

Having had past professional experience working for the sustainability group at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in London and New York City, MPA in Environmental Science and Policy (MPA-ESP) alum John Battaglia (’08) joined the program in the summer of 2007 hoping to land a role in environmental finance after graduation. Currently, John is the Vice President of Emission Markets at Evolution Markets, Inc. in San Francisco where he is a senior broker on the North American carbon desk.

1. What is your current job?

My current job is Vice President of Emission Markets at Evolution Markets, Inc. based in San Francisco, California.  I am a senior broker on the North American carbon desk and have specific expertise in the emerging California carbon trading market.  I structure and execute physical and financial emission commodity transactions serving client in utility, power, financial, oil and gas, and manufacturing sectors.

2. Do your current job responsibilities align with the professional goals that you originally had when you began the Master of Public Administration in Environmental Science and Policy program (MPA-ESP)?

Yes, I was hoping to land a role in environmental finance after graduating from the ESP program. My job is to execute trades in environmental commodity markets. The deals I put together help finance projects that generate real environmental outcomes such as reduced emissions including carbon, NOx, SOx and other pollutants, and in many cases the projects generate renewable energy!

3. What skills has the MPA-ESP program taught you that you think have proven useful to your current position?

I learned about emissions trading in the ESP program by taking an elective on environmental finance. I employ skills learned in the ESP program daily, including creative problem solving on deals, making presentations at conferences, deal/project management, and carbon market data modeling and analysis.

4. What skills and tools do you hope to acquire through this job?

I have acquired knowledge of commodity markets, using markets as a tool for pricing economic externalities with environmental implications.  Some skills that I have gained through my job include market and regulatory analysis, project finance, sales, transaction experience and strategic business planning.  I’ve also developed a significant network of market participants.

5. How has collaborating with your fellow students in class projects benefitted you professionally and personally?

It has helped with team building on the job.   The ESP program is group intensive. It provided solid experience building interpersonal communication skills and project management dynamics.  For example, I led a team of 7 working on the evaluation of a climate change bill. The project required development of a project plan, task assignments, defining work processes and managing interpersonal dynamics between team members. The skills I gained are used in my role on the Carbon team at Evolution daily.

6. What kinds of environmental initiatives do you hope to start in your new position?

I’d like to kick start an internal sustainability group.  This would involve establishing a triple bottom baseline by evaluating the company’s environmental, economic and social impacts. This would require evaluating firm energy usage and emissions and water usage, to name a few, and would entail designing a strategy to reduce the firm’s impact (and improve sustainability performance).

Students in the MPA in Environmental Science and Policy (MPA-ESP) program enroll in a year-long, 54-credit program offered at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, in partnership with the Earth Institute. Throughout this one-year program, students are immersed in courses that combine Columbia University’s hands-on approach to teaching public policy and administration with pioneering thinking about the environment. During the summer semester, students learn the fundamentals of environmental science, while in the fall and spring semesters, they focus on the policy and economics necessary to becoming successful environmental analysts and managers. Visit our website to learn more about the program.

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