In the final cycle of this year’s International Summer School that was held during July 21 – 31, visiting professor Carlos Vargas from EGADE Business School delivered the course Fundamentals of Sustainable Finance and Investments.
The School´s journalist talked with Carlos Vargas, who answered a few questions about why he decided to participate in this program, his work, his research interests and his thoughts about the School’s International Summer School.
- When and why did you decide to pursue an academic career?
Well I think, yes, it was from the beginning. I decided to study finance in college and for me it was a great decision because I started working in corporate finance and I was happy doing that. Eventually my career took me to other places; I ended up working in banking, in real estate investments in particular. That was when I realized that sustainable finance was a possible field, when at some point, we had to go green. There was a government initiative which was basically business as usual but green. No one had any idea of how to do this so, I had to train myself in, how to develop green business? I started to read about it and one thing led to another and a few years later, I was teaching in my free time. Little by little I got into the academic world because I got really excited about new concepts, new ideas and I also believed that as much as I was enjoying both sides: sustainability and finance, the link was still missing. This was about ten years ago; perhaps it’s different today because it’s more integrated but at the time it was a completely different field. I feel very lucky that I was able to be part of this when it was all starting; it’s been a great experience.
- For you, what are the most satisfying aspects of being a scholar?
I think teaching. Obviously, I do research and I enjoy that a lot, but for me the most satisfying thing is teaching and having that contact with the students. Not just to tell them things that I think that I know but also learning from them and their own experiences, their perception. As I mentioned, sometimes I get very lucky and I get students that have a lot of experience and that give me a whole new perspective and new understandings.
- How does your work contribute to the society as a whole?
- What other research areas would you like to develop in the future?
- Based on your experience, how do you manage to have a successful interaction with your students and to ensure their engagement in a virtual course?
Typically in summer school, I would have many people from different nationalities 23 or 24 nationalities. Here it’s a bit more local but the experience has been very interesting because among them they have different perspectives which is also very enriching. One very interesting thing that I found, is that here the diversity comes mainly from the students’ level of education and experience, which allows to arise interesting insights into particular topics. For example, we discussed about the best practices in Europe, the US, Mexico, Brazil or Colombia. Once we talk about all of these things, we go on to how things are actually done in Colombia, what kinds of regulations allows for things to happen or how the business community usually does certain things.
- Tell us about your experience in adapting to a virtual learning environment. What are the major challenges and how have you dealt with them?
I am actually very used to teaching online. I teach in Mexico, in the US, in Switzerland, now in Colombia, so I am very used to this. At Harvard we have been using Zoom for the last six or seven years. So we are very used to the platform. It works very well. I think the main challenge is getting used to the idea, but other than that it’s been a great experience overall.
- What would you highlight from your virtual experience in delivering a course at the UASM International Summer School?