David Rutherford was taking on a new role leading NEI Investments’ ESG Services team when he decided to enrol in the Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of St. Michael’s College.
The team, he explains, had more than three decades of responsible investment work and had established itself as the industry leader.
“I had worked closely with the team as the head of marketing for NEI, but wanted to deepen my knowledge and understanding of the sustainability field as I came into this role. The Diploma Program in CSR and Sustainability was a perfect fit,” says Rutherford, who is Vice President, ESG Services at NEI.
Rutherford is one of three winners of the 2020 President’s Capstone Project Award for his summative work in the category of Innovative Practices in Social & Environmental Responsibility, Sustainability and/or ESG. His project, Purpose Enablement, examines Responsible Investing at a time when both investors and businesses are looking for ways to move toward shared value and social purpose.
He describes the program’s content as “universally excellent” and offers the same description of various presenters, but singles out the program’s leadership. He won in the category of Innovative Practices in Social & Environmental Responsibility, Sustainability and/or ESG for an assignment he called Purpose Enablement, which examines Responsible Investing at a time when both investors and businesses are looking for ways to move toward shared value and social purpose.
“I really have to commend the program’s leaders—Kathryn Cooper and Mimi Marrocco—for taking a curatorial approach to enrolees in the program… the highest value of the program to me was the group of truly exceptional leaders enrolled in the program. They served to amplify my learning, both during the program and since.”
Rutherford describes the diploma program’s style of learning as both “focused” and “often eclectic.
“There is the practical, in-class instruction, hands-on exercises, and online learning you would expect, but there are also strange and wonderful elements—like fiction, poetry and meditation—that help you consider sustainability through non-traditional viewpoints. This approach really enriches the experience.”
But the biggest lesson he says he will take away from this program is that it will take “strong, committed, diverse leaders to solve the sustainability challenges we face. Learning is only part of it and only takes you so far. We need smart and dedicated people in decision making roles to achieve our goals. The 2020 cohort wholly understood this fact. They—we—will carry this forward.”
The skills and knowledge Rutherford gained has been invaluable, he says, noting that he applies them every day in his strategic thinking “as we move NEI’s ESG team and the entire organization forward. But it is the personal enrichment of meeting, working with, and getting to know my fellow classmates that is most important to me. I will continue to learn from them for years to come.”
Visit the Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability’s Fall Convocation 2020 page to learn more about this year’s graduates and to celebrate their unique achievement.