‘For me, the ocean is a passion’: Diane Damskey on life after OPIM

Diane Damskey, who was head of secretariat for the Impact Principles since its inception, will work as an independent consultant.

When asked why she decided to step away from the institution she helped build, Diane Damskey takes a philosophical approach. “It has been a wonderful journey and seemed time to let someone new take the Impact Principles to the next stage. I built the house, laid the foundation and put up the walls, and now someone else can add rooms, put in the furniture,” she tells New Private Markets.

Damskey is in the process of bowing out from the Operating Principles of Impact Management, also known as the Impact Principles, where she has been head of secretariat since its inception in 2019.

The organisation was founded by the International Finance Corporation to provide a framework for investors looking to integrate impact considerations into their investment strategies. Its nine principles have become one of the most widely accepted frameworks for impact investing; OPIM now has 181 signatories representing $516 billion in assets, according to its website. EQT is the most recent high profile signatory, according to a LinkedIn post from last week. The Global Impact Investing Network took over from IFC as host in 2022.

Last year Damskey registered her own company, DC Damskey Global Consulting, through which she intends to work independently or alongside consultancy firms to improve the impact practices of asset managers, asset owners, family offices and corporations. She has already had conversations about joining impact advisory boards.

“If someone offered me an incredible position that I couldn’t pass up, I’d consider it,” Damskey says of her decision to operate as a solo outfit. “But at this juncture, I’ve seen more opportunities doing bespoke or one-off projects, or even working for a firm on a long-term basis as their consultant, as opposed to becoming staff.”

One thing is clear; while Damskey’s position may be changing, her desire to contribute to the wider impact conversation will not. In particular, she is keen to help “inherently unstable” but necessary businesses, such as mining companies, improve their sustainability credentials.

She encourages the sustainability community to “be realistic about what is required and how can we help these companies be the best they can with respect to their sustainability, given what the actual operating business is”.

The blue economy is also an area of interest. “For me, the ocean is a passion,” she says. “People see polluted air, they see ravaged land, but when they look at the blue sea, they don’t see the ecosystem dying underneath. I think that the ocean is in early stages for the impact investing community. I will likely be working with an organisation in Europe that is focused on the ocean and really enlightening the world about how we can restore the oceans.”

Joohee Rand, a former associate partner at impact consultancy Tideline, has been chosen to take over as secretariat at OPIM. Damskey will continue on a part-time basis until June, and will then fulfil an advisory role until the end of 2024. She clearly has great faith the framework is in safe hands, saying: “I was part of the interview process and it was a lengthy interview process because it’s not an easy role to hire – I’m the only person who has ever had it! It’s got to be somebody that’s got a lot of different characteristics and they’re hard to find and Joohee is a wonderful fit. I think she’s going to do very well and continue the growth of the Impact Principles.”