Kenneth Pontarelli, who holds a BS in economics and finance from Syracuse University, is a former Goldman Sachs executive who now invests in sustainability initiatives. Earlier this year, he and his wife funded a Maxwell-based professorship in environmental sustainability and finance.
Who plays key roles meeting the challenges of climate change?
Government and business both play an important role. Well-designed policy is critical to providing an overarching path, and government sup-port can provide the initial push. But this is a big issue that requires
a lot of capital. Business needs to be able to make profitable investments that further these goals.
To what extent can profit motives and green goals be married?
The most forward-thinking companies integrate a sustainability approach into their corporate strategy and how they operate. Their employ-ees, customers, supply chains, and even their investors are watching closely and demanding progress. In many cases
there is not a trade-off between acting responsibly and profit motives. There is a lot of low-hanging fruit yet to be harvested.
Special Series: Environment, Energy, Sustainability
What contribution do you see coming from higher education?
Colleges are critical to this movement. I look at Syracuse University, in particular, and see the top public policy school, a very strong business school with an entrepreneurial focus, and a neighboring SUNY-based environmental sciences program.
The raw ingredients are all there to educate students and get them excited about the various roles they can play. There will be job growth and opportunities, and SU students can be at the fore-front.