View Ryan's SagePost47 profile: (link).
What are you doing now?
- Today, I’m a Principal at Malk Partners (where I’ve been since 2014). Malk Partners is a small management consulting firm based out of San Diego. Our clients are investors who buy and sell regular companies (healthcare, software, industrial, consumer, etc.); we advise them on potential risks their companies may face. These tend to fall into the broad issue areas of health and safety, environmental impact, diversity, discrimination/harassment, labor conditions, supply chain compliance, ethics, data privacy, and anti-bribery. Together, these issues are bucketed as Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG). Having a defined ESG management program is key to our clients’ ability to raise funds from their investors (pension plans, endowments, foundations, wealthy individuals).
- In my role, I oversee the “delivery” side of our organization, meaning that all projects we complete for our clients come across my desk in one way or another. I’m responsible for a team of 12, managing the quality of our reports and how we communicate with our clients. Just as importantly, as a part of a small business, I help out with business development, recruiting, IT, and strategy.
- My favorite projects tend to be the messy ones, whether that means reviewing a government contractor that has toed the line on political contributions, a software company that collects and sells consumer data, or a manufacturing business that has overseas factories with little oversight. Our team has the responsibility of looking at these companies, assessing whether our clients can continue with their investment and how they can manage ESG risks better on an ongoing basis. We don’t get to change the way businesses operate every day, but we do some days – in that we believe we’re leaving the world better than we found it.
How did you decide to study Environmental Analysis, and what made you choose to work at the intersection of business and ESG issues at Malk Partners?
- When I first came to Pomona I was dead set on studying international politics and working in diplomacy or defense. It turns out the school knew me better than I knew myself and paired me with my advisor, EA and Econ professor Bo Cutter. I took Intro to Macroeconomics with Professor Kuhlwein and EA 10 with Professor Cutter. From that semester, I was convinced that pursuing an environmental analysis major would allow me to follow what was becoming a passion: my belief that if the world was going to become more sustainable, business had to be a part of the solution. I followed that idea all the way to my undergraduate thesis (the business case for installing green roofs on movie theaters). Through a lucky introduction, I met the team at Malk Partners and begin interviewing.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
- I was drawn to the business when I saw the ability to work on interesting issues and make an immediate impact in a small company. It’s those same components that keep me happy day in and day out! Outside of that, I love learning about new companies. Every day we have a new challenge, a new company to dive into, a new business model to understand.
You've risen through the ranks quickly at Malk Partners, from starting as an Associate 10 days after graduating from Pomona to your current role of Principal. To what do you credit this quick career progression, and what advice do you have for students as they strive to be similarly successful?
- Most importantly, I was able to jump into an organization on the ground floor. There’s no quicker path to leadership than starting off in a small business and finding success. I’m a big believer in starting a career at a small company to go big later in a career. I think a lot of students feel the pressure to start at a name brand company (probably like they felt pressure to go to a name brand college!). For me, going to Pomona was about finding the right opportunity where I could grow and find a cultural fit, not about adding the biggest name to my resume. I believe that same logic should hold true for your first career stop as well. The skills and experiences you’ll gain at a small business will prepare you for an amazing set of opportunities going forward.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
- I honestly can’t imagine a better long term fit for me than Malk Partners. There are a number of things I want to accomplish in my career from corporate strategy to investing, but for now I’m developing a toolbox that I can take into the future. In 2019, we’re opening a New York City office. I’ll be heading East to lead up that effort, so for at least the foreseeable future, you can catch me in Manhattan!
What advice do you have for current Environmental Analysis majors?
- It’s an exciting time to be in this field! Every day we face a new challenge related to the environmental impact we all leave and luckily for you, that is yielding amazing opportunities for bright young professionals to change the world. Look far and wide for job opportunities and don’t narrow yourself to one field. Develop skills outside your major; anything from graphic design, to persuasive writing, to data analysis, to presentation could open up positions and responsibilities otherwise closed off (this bit could be targeted at all students). If you’ve loved learning about my path and what we do at Malk Partners, let me know! We’re always looking for new team members (firstname.lastname@example.org).