Who is raising the bar when it comes to private markets’ sustainability? As part of our 50 Influencers list, we identify sustainability professionals within private markets exerting outsized influence on both their organisation and the wider market. In the fast-evolving area of sustainability these individuals are shaping the way private capital is invested.
Natasha Buckley, HarbourVest Partners
Natasha Buckley is a well-known name in private markets sustainability, having spent nearly nine years at the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment, latterly as the private equity sector lead. Since joining HarbourVest in 2019, she has continued to drive progress through industry collaboration, including playing a pivotal role in the development of the Private Markets Decarbonisation Roadmap.
Robbie Epsom, CBRE Investment Management
Robbie Epsom sits on the firm’s European leadership team and UK and European investment committees at CBRE Investment Management. He also holds a number of voluntary industry roles, including co-vice chair and board director for the Institute of Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability. Among other things, he led CBRE IM to become a founding partner of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for ESG and has established the ‘Sustainable Circle’, a network of senior sustainability professionals in the Southwest of England.
Jarlyth Gibson, Advent International
Jarlyth Gibson, appointed global head of ESG at Advent in 2021, has led ESG efforts at the firm since 2017. She has been an active contributor to the Sustainable Markets Initiative’s Private Equity Taskforce, and her work linking sustainability to value creation and risk mitigation is particularly notable: every deal in Advent’s $25 billion tenth buyout fund is scored and benchmarked using S&P’s Global Sustainable1 assessment tool to drive stronger valuations.
Cornelia Gomez, General Atlantic
After four-and-a-half years heading up ESG and sustainability for European buyout firm PAI Partners, Cornelia Gomez took up the same role at global growth investment firm General Atlantic in 2022, making her the sustainability lead for a prominent firm with a large, dedicated pool of climate capital. She is recognised as a thought leader on human rights issues and played a key role in the formation of the Initiative Climat International.
Adam Heltzer, Ares Management
Formerly the head of ESG and sustainability at listed firm Partners Group, Adam Heltzer joined Ares Management – another listed private markets giant – in 2020. In the three years since, he has helped position Ares as an ESG leader in private credit and wider private markets.
Natasha Morris, Adamantem Capital
Adamantem Capital was one of the first firms to put decarbonisation of the real economy at the heart of its PE strategy with its A$795 million second fund. Launched in 2020, it requires each of its portfolio companies to pursue decarbonisation targets. Natasha Morris, as managing director, responsibility and impact, continues to play a key role in shaping the firm’s sustainability offering, which includes a debut climate offering currently in the market.
Maria Nazarova-Doyle, IFM Investors
Maria Nazarova-Doyle returned to private markets last year when she joined IFM Investors as head of sustainable investment from asset owner giant Scottish Widows. In her previous role, Nazarova-Doyle was an outspoken figure on stewardship and expectations of asset managers. She sat on the government-established Taskforce on Pension Scheme Voting Implementation, and under her tenure, Scottish Widows warned its asset managers to sign up to the UK stewardship code or lose its business. One peer describes her as “driving positive change across the pension sector and wider”.
Shami Nissan, Actis
Shami Nissan has played a key role in shaping Actis’s approach to sustainability since arriving in 2014, and has helped guide the firm on its journey to becoming the world’s second largest manager of impact capital. The former PwC consultant is also a prominent voice in the conversation around best practice, serving as an advisory board member of the Operating Principles for Impact Management, as well as the G7 Impact Taskforce.
Elsa Palanza and Ivo Dimov, ICG
ICG’s sustainability team, led by former Barclays sustainability chief Elsa Palanza, is frequently referenced by peers as best in class, with work by associate director Ivo Dimov on climate within private credit noted as being particularly influential.
Abrielle Rosenthal, TowerBrook Capital Partners
New York-based Abrielle Rosenthal is the sustainability lead at a firm that leads the way in sustainability. TowerBrook was an early adopter of B Corp status and recently launched a dedicated private equity impact strategy. Former corporate lawyer Rosenthal has been at the firm since 2009 and is a vocal promoter of voluntary industry initiatives in the US and Europe.
Adinah Shackleton, Permira
In the eight years since arriving at Permira, Adinah Shackleton has grown the ESG function to six people and ensured that the latest flagship private equity fund, the €17 billion Fund 8, has fund-level ESG targets applied as standard to all portfolio companies. Notably, on Shackleton’s watch, Permira has taken a leading position on the nascent practice of pricing carbon into deal underwriting activity.
Megan Starr, Carlyle
As global head of impact at one of the largest private markets firms in the world, Megan Starr has made an undeniable impact on the scene. In co-founding the ESG Data Convergence Initiative with counterparts at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, she initiated arguably the most significant step forward yet in the gathering and reporting of standardised ESG data by private equity firms. This year, she moves into an elevated role as Carlyle’s global head of corporate affairs.
Serge Younes, Investindustrial
Investindustrial is “the poster child of how you should do ESG in private equity”, as one peer puts it. Partner and head of sustainability Serge Younes has led the firm’s ESG function for more than five years and has been an indefatigable driver of industry co-operation and knowledge sharing in the wider private equity community, currently chairing the Initiative Climat International’s global steering committee and co-chairing the PRI’s private equity advisory committee.