We Are All Wonder Women Co-founder Eugenie is currently studying for an Executive MBA at the University of Cambridge. This is one is a series of blogs she is writing giving insight into some of her learning from the course which she hopes will help other Wonder Women at work.
I am taking some challenging courses in the MBA - specifically Corporate Finance and Financial Reporting and Analysis. They are hard! Who said it was a good idea to do an MBA?! Of course, there are some useful things to learn within these courses. For example, in Corporate Finance we’re learning about corporate investment decisions.
This is about company investment decisions in order to generate future cash returns. These are also called capital investments or capital budgeting or capital expenditure (CAPEX) decisions - and can be wide ranging from investing in a factory to research and development to marketing. Interestingly, financial managers are not making these investment decisions in isolation - they work with their technical colleagues to weigh up the pros and cons. It’s here that I think we, in the environment sector, are missing a trick. The finance industry is used to making decisions about things that they may know very little about, e.g. marketing, but they are able to ask the right questions about a marketing investment that helps bring everybody to consensus on the decision.
I think that sometimes we are like the marketing colleague who is trying to convince the finance manager to invest. The manager asks questions such as ‘What will be the return on investment?’, and ‘How long will the revenue flow from that investment last?’ and ‘What are our other investment options that will give the same return but for less investment?’ to help better frame the decision in a broader (although financially-focused) context.
We could help make the case for investment in conservation by framing this investment within a broader context. This is what the natural capital approach is advocating and this approach has its fair share of both supporters and critics. I’m not advocating that we all take a natural capital approach. But instead take the wider lesson that we need to frame our work for different audiences. And that a financial manager might help us by asking broader, finance questions and thus help us make better conservation decisions.
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We Are All Wonder Women is an international movement for female conservation professionals to be inspired, connected, and empowered to create an authentic, fulfilling and happy career.