Published: May 14, 2024

One conversation can be a catalyst for career development.

Image of Stepanie Ly

Stephanie Ly met Leeds School of Business instructor Jennifer Forman at a United Nations sustainability event about a year ago. That meeting gave Ly the initial information she needed to know that earning a certificate in Environmental, Social and Governance Strategy (ESG) aligned with her learning preferences, career goals and where she’s at in life.

It’s just one example of the power of sharing what we’re passionate about through networking.

Ly, who now is earning her certificate in ESG through the Leeds program, was head of impact for a clean tech startup where she helped mitigate risks and identify trends in the ESG space before seeking a career shift that would help her focus on diversity in ESG leadership and corporate sustainability.

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"We need leaders and businesses to continue to pioneer the path forward in ESG"

“Right now, I am networking with professionals to make a transition into venture capital,” Ly said. “The hope would be to work in VC as a platform lead, supporting the missions of founders and helping with things like building brands, tech stacks, networking and to take my experience in impact and ESG in the startup space and apply it to the founder space. I want to learn how to navigate headwinds in the industry and stay resilient. We need leaders and businesses to continue to pioneer the path forward in ESG.”

“My classmates are doing incredible things in different industries,” she said. “I have been impressed with the depth of my classmates and what they’re doing and learning alongside and from them. They carry incredible expertise and passion in what they do. Being able to connect with them outside of structured class times through coffee chats in-person and via Zoom have been a very important and valuable part of the course.”

Opportunity for continuing education

Ly went to UCLA for her undergraduate degrees in environmental science and geography. One constant in her education has been scholarships. 

“As a first-generation student, it was so helpful to be able to pursue the opportunities that I wanted without being weighed down by financial implications and how to afford to advance my education,” Ly said. “I would not have felt as empowered to pursue mission- and purpose-driven career opportunities without the impact of scholarships. Scholarships help with the means and experience to shepherd students in the process.”

Ly is enrolled in the ESG certificate program through a scholarship partnership program with B:CIVIC, an affiliate of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation, B:CIVIC provides a community where you can access connections, expertise, and education on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and ESG.

“Our ability to provide scholarships for this certification is integral to our mission, to elevate business for good,” said Jess Welser, director of B:CIVIC and CSR at B:CIVIC. “At B:CIVIC, we are thrilled to increase access for community leaders like Stephanie to share their experience and make the business case to advance ESG throughout their careers. We look forward to following Stephanie’s journey and how she will continue to lead with ESG.”

“As a minority woman in startup/vc there are additional challenges,” said Ly. “I have been energized and ready for the ESG course and gained tremendous networking benefits. Not everyone has the financial means or employer support to pursue these kinds of opportunities, so thank you to CU and B:CIVIC for sponsoring continued education.”

Why an ESG certificate is worth it

Ly said the ESG program might be a good fit for anyone who is looking for holistic and engaging experiences built on practical knowledge, noting that the format of the course is helpful and beneficial for working professionals.

“The content is relevant, and the materials are fun and engaging to learn,” said Ly. “Every class features a guest speaker from well-known companies who are impactful in their industry. Being able to hear from practical experience and getting access to industry professionals is very beneficial. The hands-on practical workshops and interactive nature in class are fun ways to practice what we learn through mini business case studies.”

Ly notes that ESG can be broad and cover a lot of different things, so it helps to be very intentional about what you’re hoping to accomplish and take away from the experience.

For Ly, she wants to inspire more good.

“Forcing the function that enables business to do more good in the world is necessary,” Ly said. “It’s important to do more good. ESG is a good way to measure profitability and financial performance, reputation and branding. Businesses have the capacity to do more good, so why not?"

For those looking to pursue a path in ESG and need financial support, learn more about our scholarship opportunities and discounts to help with affordability. If your organization is interested in sponsoring education in ESG, please connect with us and we can help set up scholarships in your organization’s name. The Fall 2024 cohorts in ESG Strategy are open for registration.