A concept since the 1960s, the practice of ESG or Environmental, Social and Governance has spurred in recent times due to record-breaking fund inflows amid concerns about climate change and other societal issues.
A framework for conscious consumerism, today ESG helps businesses attract investors, build customer loyalty, improve financial performance and make business operations sustainable. A company not prioritizing ESG frameworks in the early going will likely face lagging ratings and a negative sustainability profile in the public eye, which, in turn, could result in less access to capital and difficulty hiring top talent.
Nidhi Chadda is a generalist growth investor and advisor across public and private markets who has spent her career understanding the true benefits of Environmental, Social and Governance for organizations. She is currently the Managing Director for the ESG and Climate Advisory Group at TRC Companies, a leading global environmental consulting firm.
Her foray into ESG / sustainability first began as a portfolio manager at RBC Global Asset Management, where she co-managed $3 billion in assets and spearheaded ESG integration across her funds.
Having worked at an international bank, seeing the traction in ESG regulations across the globe, as well as realizing how ESG factors were so interlinked to developing best-in-class business models, Nidhi anticipated that ESG / sustainability would become an important part of the US business vocabulary.
“Initially, I viewed ESG as a risk management tool to mitigate volatility; however, as a growth investor, I recognized these frameworks as long-term value creation drivers that could support revenue growth, drive cost savings, and improve overall cost of capital,” states Nidhi. She views building sustainability across operations as a leading driver in creating a company’s competitive advantage.
This is when Nidhi decided to pivot from her role at RBC and launch her own ESG advisory firm to focus on full-time sustainability consulting for corporations and institutional investors. She called it Enzo Advisors. “I founded Enzo Advisors with a mission to support small and mid-cap companies with their sustainability goals to create long-term value for stakeholders and society. The proprietary methodology I crafted incorporated corporate strategy and financial forecasting with the integration of broader ESG principles across operations to effectively communicate with stakeholders.”
Enzo was founded to support companies early in their respective life cycles to build sustainable businesses for the long term that create value for stakeholders and society overall, honing in on key ESG risks and opportunities that are material to the business.
A few months ago, Nidhi and her team from Enzo Advisors, joined TRC where she heads the ESG & Climate Advisory Group as part of TRC’s broader climate solutions offering. Here she utilizes her 20+ years of experience as an investment banker, strategic consultant, and public/private markets investor at pedigreed firms to help C-suites and boards strategize and plan across all facets of the business, with a focus on driving sustainability.
"Innovation starts with people, and it is important for organizations to create a safe environment supportive of diversity, equity, and inclusion."
Environmentally Focused Solutions
TRC is a leading global consulting firm that provides environmentally focused and digitally powered solutions. For over 50 years, the company has set the bar for clients who require consulting, construction, engineering, and management services, combining science with the latest technology to devise solutions that stand the test.
With more than 7,000 professionals and 150 offices around the globe, serving a broad range of public and private clients and steering complex projects from conception to completion, TRC enables companies to solve the toughest ESG challenges. Breaking barriers and helping businesses achieve sustainable results, TRC is ranked #17 on ENR’s list of the Top 500 Design Firms in the United States.
“These last few years have truly been an incredible journey to build a practice along with proprietary frameworks to see this flourish into having a more scalable impact,” opines Nidhi. By coupling advisory frameworks and proprietary methodologies developed at Enzo that incorporate business strategy, financial forecasting, and the integration of broader ESG principles with TRC’s scientific, technical and digital expertise has created a holistic end-to-end “advisory meets implementation” platform that solves the clients’ most complex sustainability challenges.
A Devoted Leader
Having worked at some of the best professional services firms in the world as well as having interacted with multiple teams throughout her career, Nidhi believes that collaboration and supporting cognitive diversity are critical to a firm’s success. As a transformative leader, she feels that innovation starts with people, and it is important for organizations to create a safe environment supportive of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Within her organization, Nidhi encourages a culture where employees can share ideas, collaborate, and think out of the box. She states, “A great leader enables his or her team to be the “best version of themselves.” It is someone who supports an individual’s ability to capitalize on their strengths and take on new challenges, but also have the opportunity to improve their areas of development and grow personally and professionally.”
To Nidhi, a great leader should encourage colleagues to be open-minded towards appreciating cognitive diversity and other opinions to avoid unconscious bias in their train of thought and encourages people to take opportunities outside their comfort zone and learn new skill sets. When Nidhi joined TRC, she inherited a global team of 50 individuals to manage virtually. She started by asking all her team members what they were looking to get out of the experience and how they want to grow both personally and professionally.
She also feels that mentorship is critical to nurturing talent and supporting retention longer-term which further only reinforces a strong base of talent and a company’s competitive advantage. “After all, the most important asset for any services firm is its people,” states Nidhi.
As a generalist investor over the years, Nidhi has always enjoyed learning about new sectors and understanding business operations from different perspectives. Her diversified experiences across finance and strategy have helped shaped her multi-disciplinary approach toward sustainability. “Being intellectually curious to learn and grow as an advisor and investor has always been critical to my professional growth,” shares Nidhi.
As a growth investor, Nidhi has always appreciated the potential of technology to drive efficiency, and innovation and support disruptive change. She is always looking at new technology solutions to further support sustainability goals for both corporate and institutional investor clients.
Nidhi completed her MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 2021, she was nominated as a finalist for the Next Generation Leader award at the Women in Asset Management Awards Series for her launch of Enzo Advisors.
Nidhi also serves on several advisory boards and investment committees at angel associations and venture funds. She has hosted numerous webinars related to ESG – related topics and has been featured across several media engagements including CNBC, the Women in Asset Management Summit, ESG Clarity magazine, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD), ESG Today, and Venture Capital Journal.
Stepping towards Sustainability
As per Nidhi, sustainability is an all-encompassing concept to drive improvement across operations, and extends well beyond rules and regulations, to support organizational resiliency for the long term.
She states, “To build a more sustainable future, we not only need to focus on decarbonization planning and linking emerging technologies to finding solutions but need to think about the resiliency of those efforts which entails incorporating best-in-class human capital and social practices such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, to drive innovation and more collaboration.”
Looking ahead, Nidhi anticipates that we will see greater transparency, disclosure, and alignment across global frameworks in the near future, which also will help us become more aligned on what defines ESG and sustainability.