State of the Planet

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Mah Sissoko: Integrating Sustainability with Finance

MS in Sustainability Management Alum Mah Sissoko

By Danni Zhou

Mah Sissoko (’18SPS, Sustainability Management) received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and finance from HEC Montreal in 2009. After graduation, she worked in finance where she provided professional financial advice to clients and offered investment solutions, before joining a renewable energy developer as a financial analyst. Currently, she works at BNP Paribas as a project finance associate focusing on energy and infrastructure projects in Latin America.

What initially attracted you to the Sustainability Management program at Columbia University?

I was interested to learn more about sustainability and wanted to find a way to integrate it to my background in finance. I’m a firm believer that we can make money and solve problems at the same time and the program seemed to provide the perfect tools for that.

What skills did you build and improve on through the program?

The program was very enriching in terms of soft and hard skills. On one hand, I learned how to build simple project finance models and make professional presentations and memorandums. On the other hand, I developed networking skills and learned how to be comfortable in different roles within a team. I also learned about sustainability-related issues and how to address them.

How have these skills helped you succeed at your job?

The things I learned about the energy market really helped me get my current job. I used to work for a developer, and at Columbia, I got to expand my knowledge on other parts of the energy system. Together with my previous experiences, it helped me build a good base for the conversations (and modeling tests!) I had during interviews and now as I analyze energy projects.

How did the format of the program benefit you?

I was a full-time student, which I think was great as it let me take advantage of all the networking events.The extracurricular activities were a great addition to what we learned in class. It was a way to learn more on the subject we studied and see what is being done in the real world.

The M.S. in Sustainability Management, co-sponsored by the Earth Institute and Columbia’s School of Professional Studies, trains students to tackle complex and pressing environmental and managerial challenges. Visit our website to learn more.

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