An Impact Investing Career Inspired by Tragedy and Resilience
Few events have the power to shape a lifetime of career choices. For Ashraya Dixit MIB18, one such event was the devastating 2015 earthquake in Nepal, which resulted in the loss of over 8,000 lives and widespread destruction of infrastructure while crippling the country's economy. Dixit shared how it served as a pivotal moment in his life, inspiring him to pursue a career in impact investing. Witnessing the profound impact of the earthquake on his homeland sparked a deep sense of purpose within him.
Having graduated with a degree in economics, Dixit was engaged in development consulting work in Nepal when he experienced the earthquake and saw its disastrous impact on people's lives and livelihoods.
“The earthquake was very significant because when you're young and you face something like that, you want to act,” he said. He pointed out how the political turbulence that Nepal had been grappling with further shaped his understanding of the challenging environment in which he grew up.
While working with rural electricity cooperatives in the earthquake’s aftermath, Dixit decided to enroll in the MIB program at The Fletcher School with a keen interest to learn and grow in the impact investing space. Today, he works as an equity analyst with Promethos Capital, a Boston-based institutional asset management firm founded by Ivka Kalus F90, and as a Senior Fellow at Nepal Economic Forum (NEF), an economic policy and research institute.
At Promethos Capital, Dixit analyzes a range of data, including company financials, carbon emissions, diversity metrics and policies, and other corporate governance-factors to help build superior portfolios that help clients achieve their financial targets.
"There’s a lot of unstructured data in the impact investing or ESG (environmental, social and governance) investing space. What I do is comb through a lot of information to understand if a company is running well or managing its externalities well enough,” he said. According to him, studying these data and having a critical perspective are important as the ESG sector keeps evolving.
“Looking at the raw data is critical because the goalposts are always changing,” he said. “It's important to understand where those goalposts are now and how companies are playing the game.” According to him, working with rural communities in developing markets has sharpened his eyes on the issues and helped him view the impact investing sector more critically.
Dixit credits his time at Fletcher for boosting his confidence and providing him with the necessary preparation for a career in the investment management industry. He explained that Fletcher allowed him to diversify his career path beyond his previous experience in NGOs. His days were occupied with participating in several impact investing competitions, which offered opportunities to interact with people starting businesses, fund managers, and asset allocators.
“The confidence that this exposure gave was probably the most important thing. I came from working with NGOs, and it’s important to learn how to convey your lived experiences of working with NGOs to people who are managing billions of dollars," he said.
According to Dixit, courses such as Corporate Finance with Laurent Jacque, Private Equity and Investment Management with Patrick Schena, International Financial and Economic Law with Joel Trachtman, and Investment Law with Jeswald Salacuse provided the necessary tools and knowledge to perform his current role. He fondly recounted how the professors gave “tons of office hours” sharing their personal insights on “how to read business contracts, financial statements, and how to understand investment and business relationships.”
In addition to his role at the asset management firm, Dixit is actively engaged with the Nepal Economic Forum's Digital Transformation program, which aims to enhance the policy dialogue for digital development in the Himalayan country. The program currently focuses on comparative research and collaborations with companies leading the country’s digital evolution.
During his time at Fletcher, he learned to maintain a mindset of being "cautiously optimistic" and embracing the concept of being "anti-fragile" in his approach, continuously growing and staying resilient in the face of challenges. He believes that volatility is typically a characteristic of the career path a Fletcher student chooses. He expects it and remains prepared to navigate through the constantly evolving, uncertain future.
Read more about Fletcher’s MIB degree program.