State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Faculty Spotlight: Leslie Rich

leslie rich
Leslie Rich, an adjunct professor with the Sustainability Management program, will be teaching ‘Financing the Clean Energy Economy’ this fall.

Leslie Rich, currently an adjunct professor in Columbia University’s Sustainability Management program, has over 25 years of experience as an equity analyst covering the US utility sector for major asset management institutions. Following a multi-decade career on Wall Street, Rich is now a consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Programs Office. In this capacity, Rich will support the design and implementation of new loan authorities including the $250 billion Energy Reinvestment program. She will also assist in outreach and business development to finance technologies and infrastructure project that enable the energy transition.

Previously, she worked at JP Morgan Asset Management covering companies in the electric, gas, and water utility sectors. Prior to JP Morgan, Rich held similar equity analyst roles at Columbia Threadneedle Investments and Neuberger Berman. Additionally, she has been on the advisory council of the Electric Power Research Institute since 2018. She regularly speaks at industry conferences on topics including ESG, utility capital allocation, and decarbonization strategies. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

What initially motivated you to pursue the field of sustainability? 

I was motivated by a deep love of the environment and consternation about the impacts of climate change on species and society.

What drew you to the Columbia Climate School and the School of Professional Studies?   

I was drawn by the extensive course offerings, degree programs, and the Center for Global Energy Policy.

What course will you be teaching this fall and what excites you most about it? 

I will be teaching Financing the Clean Energy Economy. I am thrilled to be speaking to students directly about the economics of clean energy projects, the challenges of economy-wide decarbonization, and potential solutions.

What changes do you hope to see in the field of sustainability in the future?  

I hope to see an increased focus on climate adaptation while not giving up the efforts toward mitigation.

What advice do you have for students pursuing a career in sustainability?  

There are so many job options and opportunities. Find an area of interest where you believe your talents can make the largest impact.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated on October 27, 2022, to reflect Leslie Rich’s new role at the Department of Energy.

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