All-female Green Team to Lead New Irish Funds Green Pledge initiative

3rd July 2020

Green Team Network, an initiative to progress a new Irish Funds Industry sustainability forum, was announced as the winning pitch in the inaugural Grant Thornton Irish Funds Sustainathon 2020 competition.

The new competition was set up to promote collaboration across the Irish Fund ecosystem – including firms and 3rd level colleges – and to create solutions to the sustainability challenges faced by the Industry.

This year’s focus was on two of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals — Affordable and Clean Energy, and Climate Action.

The 2020 edition attracted entries from over 40 companies and three colleges. The Irish Funds Industry Association (Irish Funds) is the representative body for the international investment fund community in Ireland. Founded in 1991, Irish Funds represents fund managers, depositaries, administrators, transfer agents, professional advisory firms and other specialist firms involved in the international fund services industry in Ireland.

With backgrounds in Funds, Investment Services, Not For Profit and investment consultancy, the winning team behind Green Team Network is an all-female team from BlackRock, SS&C and the Irish Youth Foundation.

Suzanne Senior, Head of Fund Registrations and Listings at BlackRock is looking forward to working with the team and wider industry to scale up activity over the coming year and said: “I head up the Dublin Green Team in BlackRock and work across the globe with various local BlackRock green teams to make a difference. Sustainathon provided the opportunity to drive further impact in the local Irish funds industry and to network with other individuals who are focused on this area.”

The initiative proposes establishing a new Green Network to connect and empower the Irish Funds Industry to support change towards a sustainable environment. This includes exploration of a series of Green Pledge options tailored to firms of all sizes and at all stages of the decarbonisation journey, with a new online hub planned to act as a cross-industry resource.

Grant Thornton and Irish Funds will now work with the Green Team Network to implement this initiative across the industry. Furthermore, the team will present their proposal at the Irish Funds Annual Conference in October.

Shona O’Hea is a Director in Grant Thornton developing solutions for the global reporting needs of the Asset Management sector internationally. She was also mentor to the winning team and said: “I’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm and innovation not only from the “Green Team Network” that I mentored, but from all the teams who entered the challenge, as well as the support from some of the key organisations in our industry.  I think it has really tapped into a passion that people have to make a real improvement in how we impact our planet and illustrates how its members want Irish Funds industry to take the lead in driving the sustainability agenda nationally.”

Green Team member Magdalena Supernat is Manager in the Investor Services Department of SS&C Financial Services (Ireland) Limited and said: “ Sustainathon seemed like an ideal opportunity to team up with like-minded people in the industry to work together towards a cleaner and greener environment, I look forward to putting our plans into action.”

Fellow Green team member Aedín O’Leary is an Independent Director at the Irish Youth Foundation and is also an Investment Consultant.  Aedín has worked for over two decades in various roles across investment and financial services, often for clients with ethical/ESG investment requirements and commented: “I am happy to finally see ESG and Sustainability gain greater prominence on corporate agendas and am eager to play my part,” she acknowledged.

“The Grant Thornton Irish Funds Sustainathon 2020 competition has been a huge success due to the quality, diversity and commitment of those who collaborated so well in the midst of real challenges to produce imaginative and thought-provoking proposals”, said Pat Lardner, Chief Executive, Irish Funds. “The competition has encapsulated a groundswell of support for ensuring sustainability is at the core of what our industry does. It also shows the power of creating connections between the great professionals working in our member firms, those from other disciplines and in 3rd level education, to produce platforms and projects for Innovation and sustainable change,” he added.

Of the winners, Stephen Tennant, Head of Asset Management at Grant Thornton concluded: “What I liked about the ‘Great Team Network’ was the research that had gone in to demonstrate why such a programme is needed within the Industry. It also has tangible and measurable targets, which will have wide spread appeal across the funds industry. The Green Team Network offers the ability for everyone to play their part in sustainable business practices.