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Wednesday 17 May 2023 11:32am

Isobella Sigley - image
Isobella Sigley plans to leverage sustainable finance to promote investments that are good for people and the planet.

When Isobella Te-Iringa-A-Rangi O Te Moana Nui Sigley (Ngāpuhi) learned that investors did not have to choose between making a profit and saving the planet, her career pathway in sustainable finance became crystal clear.

Sigley, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting and Finance) and a Master of Finance, says finance wasn’t her first choice, after initially picking accounting and law.

“I ended up switching to finance as it provided the complimentary forward-looking focus to the record-keeping approach of accounting.”

A paper on sustainable investing spurred her decision to pursue postgraduate studies, she says.

“Coming to the end of my Bachelor’s degree, I felt unsure about the direction I wanted to take, until I studied sustainable investing. It completely changed my view of what finance could lead to.”

Working on a custom-made scholarship project with Predator Free Hauraki Coromandel Community Trust, Sigley saw first-hand the difficulties faced by community-driven projects that are often reliant on donation and grant-driven funding.

This led her to research the potential for innovative financing instruments to support biodiversity-enhancing projects in Aotearoa.

“Financial institutions, corporates and other investors play an important role in supporting resilient, sustainable economies, by investing in projects that not only make money, but help people and the environment.”

“I wanted to create a piece of work that could help build a case for more stakeholders across New Zealand to recognise the holistic value of investing in protecting our unique native biodiversity.”

Dr. Sebastian Gehricke, Sigley’s Master’s supervisor, is all praise for the effort she put into her research.

“Isobella’s work on this project was outstanding, which is now being used by the Trust to develop more large-scale projects.”

He sees a bright future for his ‘exceptional student with a passion for making a positive difference”.

“I know Bella will do amazing things in her career and will always keep the well-being of people and planet at the centre of her finance journey.”

Sigley credits her time at Otago as giving her confidence in asking the tough questions and being open to new ideas in the ever-growing sustainability space.

It was learning these skills she says, that was the highlight of her study.

“My one piece of advice for students is to take every opportunity to build up your practical skills. They go a long way in helping you realise that what you choose to study is not a boundary to your career choices.”

Sigley is currently a few months into a graduate role at ANZ, working with the Sustainable Finance team to provide financial products to institutional customers looking to improve their sustainability performance.

“My goal is to create a world where environmental and social well-being is at the centre of every decision we make” says Sigley, “My tool of choice is finance.”

~ Kōrero by Sandra French, Internal Communications Adviser

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