Lydia Li, MBA ’19, was working in the finance sector on an energy private equity team, when she visited MIT Sloan on Ambassador day and sat in on Sustainability 101 with Jason Jay.
“It kind of changed my life,” says Lydia, who was so impressed she went home and applied to the MBA program.
Jason takes a business approach, but talks about how sustainability touches everybody’s life in a significant way–how it’s fundamentally about caring for other people’s well-being,” Lydia says. “Jason is so personally passionate; he’s a real influencer.
Before she came to MIT Sloan, Lydia was investing in oil and gas. It was that experience that sparked her passion for clean energy. “I think energy is really fundamental to how we live and where we can live,” she says, which is why she decided to focus on clean energy and impact investing at MIT Sloan.
In addition to serving as Energy Club co-president and leading the 2018 Sustainability Summit, Lydia is vice president of the Impact Investing Initiative, a team leader of the MBA Impact Investing Network & Training (MIINT) Program, and a Prime Impact Fund fellow. She also works with the Sustainability Initiative on projects like the Renewable Energy Finance roundtable, where she’s made valuable connections with MIT Sloan alumni in the energy sector.
In November, Lydia was invited to join the Class of 2019 Siebel Scholars. The Siebel Scholars Foundation brings together top students at the most prestigious business, bioengineering, computer science, and energy science graduate programs across the country.
Up to now, Lydia has worked in traditionally male-dominated fields, but she thinks the gender dynamic is slowly changing. As a woman in cleantech, she says it’s been important to find female role models in the space. “I’m very grateful for the time I’ve had at Sloan,” she says.
Before Sloan, my social and professional work circles weren’t very gender-diversified, and if it wasn’t for my time at Sloan, I never would have met so many great women.
Through the Impact Investing Initiative, Lydia is working with Professor Gita Rao, to bring impact investing into career conversations that have typically been dominated by traditional finance fields. “We are also conscious of how branding can affect gender diversity,” she says. “For example, we’ve found that we get a lot more females when we brand our programs as ‘impact investing’ versus ‘venture capital.’ Though both are accurate descriptions, being more deliberate with marketing language can encourage more balanced male and female participation.”
If you look for Lydia after graduation, you’ll probably find her leading the cleantech boom. “It’s a sector that provides for the public good,” she says. “But in early stage startups, there’s a finance gap between the research phase and commercialization phase. There’s not enough venture capital.”
That’s exactly where you’ll find Lydia hard at work.