Sam Adams MBA 96
A Passion for Sustainable Investing
As an undergraduate Sam Adams MBA 96 majored in philosophy, earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “That was useful for being a ski bum,” he says, “but not for being taken seriously in the job market. When I decided to join the investment management business, it was clear I needed an MBA.” He enrolled at the GSM, earning his graduate business degree in 1996.
Today Adams is the CEO at Vert Asset Management LLC, a dedicated ESG fund manager, meaning environmental, social and governance criteria are the foundation of its investment approach. The company combines ESG research and a disciplined rules-based process to deliver funds that achieve investors’ twin goals of sustainability and market rates of return.
Vert is a Certified B Corporation, a signatory to the UN PRI and contributor to 1% For the Planet.
What are you passionate about in your work?
Sustainability. We need to move the world to a more sustainable way of operating. I believe capitalism will get us there, and so I’m passionate about moving capital towards sustainability.
Where is your career headed? What do you hope to achieve professionally?
I am the CEO of a startup, Vert Asset Management, a dedicated sustainable investment manager. Our mission is to make sustainable investing easier. A few months ago, we launched our first mutual fund, the Vert Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund. Our immediate goal is to get this fund to scale, and our long-term goal is to mainstream sustainable investing.
How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?
My UC Davis MBA has meant a lot to me personally, in terms of my perspective. Before I studied, I felt clueless about how business really operated. After graduation, I felt like I could run any business. Without this confidence, it’s doubtful I could have been successful in my financial services career. I certainly would not have started my own company.
How are you a game changer? Or, how are you making a positive impact in the world?
I want to change capitalism so it operates in a less extractive manner, in favor of a more sustainable manner. The lever we use is investor assets. Investors shape how companies behave: The more dollars invested on a sustainable basis, the more responsible companies will be.
What is the most significant thing you’ve done since graduating?
I left a great job to start my own company.
Your favorite GSM memory?
I was at the GSM in the mid-90s. I remember failing to find any information on a research project at the library, and having to turn to the computer lab where we had this new thing called the internet. My favorite part was explaining to my professor why there were no book references in my report.
How do you support and participate in the GSM now?
I donate to the GSM Annual Fund and am looking to do more with the School in terms of internships and projects now that our business is going. Professor Brad Barber serves on my firm’s Advisory Board.