Big companies can be big polluters. More than a fifth of all greenhouse emissions are produced at industrial facilities and about a quarter by the extraction of fossil fuels and the modes of transportation that burn them.
There is no way to meet climate change targets without addressing the climate strategy of the large corporations that are at the source of these emissions. On the other hand, institutional investors hold a majority of shares in many publicly traded companies. This gives these investors considerable influence in the company’s vision, but only if they choose to use it – and know how to.
That’s where Mariel Langlois (MBA’20) comes in. As an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) consultant with the consultancy Millani, Langlois advises both corporate issuers and institutional investors on integrating ESG into their strategies – helping align capital markets and companies on ESG to affect positive change, while meeting their respective fiduciary duties.
“We speak to issuers, and through our assessments help them identify their material ESG topics. We can then support them in developing strategies to keep their momentum on ESG,” says Langlois, of her work at the Montreal-headquartered consultancy. “We offer similar services to investors as well, supporting them in the development of their responsible investment strategies and how to most effectively communicate them to the broader market.”
At Millani, Langlois has also worked as a Project Manager with Climate Engagement Canada, the Canadian iteration of a global initiative called Climate Action 100+, an investor-led effort to ensure that the world’s largest corporate emitters are taking necessary action on climate change.
To drive a dialogue about climate-related risks and opportunities with the forty biggest emitting companies in Canada, Climate Engagement Canada brings together some of the country’s largest institutional investors – from big banks to large pension plans. Collectively, they manage trillions of dollars in assets, and have the ability to effect meaningful changes.
Before beginning her MBA at Desautels in 2018, Langlois worked in advertising and media for many years. A growing interest in sustainability and social impact led her to enrol in the Desautels’ MBA program to pivot her career in that direction.
“I have always tried to give back to my community, and wanted to find a way to keep that going in my career,” says Langlois.
“The idea of sustainability had really started to speak to me, and I felt like the MBA could be a good opportunity for me to transition into a new space, while maintaining my presence in the corporate world. I wanted to find a way to combine this interest with my corporate background, realizing that there were several professional avenues tied to corporate strategy that would allow me to have a positive impact on people and the planet.”
Pursuing an MBA helped Langlois chart that path.
“The MBA is really what you make of it. I went into the program with an open mind, ready to embrace the opportunities it had to offer, and it paid off. Although we were not many students with a focus on sustainability and social impact at the time, I was able to tailor my MBA experience to these interests. Those two years allowed me to dig deeper on the topics and get relevant hands-on experience,” says Langlois.
“Although I had a steep learning curve in the first weeks and months of working in ESG consulting, I felt prepared. During my MBA, I developed and refined my project management and presentation skills. I learned how to approach business problems in a very structured way. These were all things that I had already started doing in my marketing life, but a bit subconsciously. The MBA allowed me to take a more pragmatic approach to further mastering these skills, and I am able to see the benefits of that today.”