There Doesn’t Have to Be a Tradeoff Between Career and Impact

By Sophia Cetina (Class of 2023)

· Event

“We ourselves, I think, built unsustainable companies by maximizing profit." - Jeff Ubben T’83

On Tuesday, February 23rd at 5pm, Duke Impact Investing Group will be hosting an exclusive live event with Duke Trustee Jeff Ubben (T’83). The fireside conversation will be hosted in Q&A format, with Duke Student Government President Tommy Hessel (T’21) asking questions prompted and submitted by Duke students. This event, which will not be recorded, features Mr. Ubben’s work in and beyond investing.

After founding a $16 billion hedge fund, Mr. Ubben left his prestigious position at Value Act Capital to pursue high-impact, social and environmental investing. His work spans private and public sectors, as a contributing member of the World Economic Forum and having served on the Board of Directors of over 15 public companies, including Twenty-First Century Fox, AES Corporation, and Gartner Group. Mr. Ubben maintains strong ties to the Blue Devil community as chair of Duke’s Climate Change and Sustainability Task Force of the Board of Trustees
Mr. Ubben applies business administration, leadership, and management skills to his current work in impact investing. Last year, junior Luke Qin wrote, “On a broader scope, impact investing is indeed an emerging field, one in rapid need of definition, but when done with the proper accountability, it is not an empty label that thrives off or perpetuates inequality. Rather, it’s a systematized framework developed and encouraged by the ​United Nations​, ​global NGOs​, f​oundations​ and ​government institutions​ in addition to wealth managers, banks, and pension funds”; As a new and rapidly growing field, Mr. Ubben identifies impact investing as a high-potential sector, where businesses can sustainably and meaningfully contribute toward social obligations.

An important point of reckoning is the old-time tradeoff: being successful or having impact. . Mr. Ubben is characteristic of the reality that one can have both; there should be no tradeoff between having a successful career and being able to improve lives on a consistent, sustainable scale. In an interview with Bloomberg Green, he notes, “We’ve moved into this new era where stock prices are reflecting environmental and social failings increasingly, even as the financial returns are ok.” The response, therefore, must be a reflection on current practices and philosophies—what is and isn’t working? What needs to be changed? Who needs to be changed before this can happen? Mr. Ubben grapples with these questions, and his approach will be unpacked and explored during the fireside conversation.

The Duke Impact Investing Group eagerly anticipates this speaker event, which is welcome to the entire Duke Community . To RSVP, register here—and for more information, click this link or contact Erik Jia (