The Synergist Board recently had the privilege of profiling Justina Lai, Director of Impact Investing at Wetherby Asset Management. See below to learn more about her inspiring background.

Senior Sound Bites:
Justina Lai

Director of Impact Investing at Wetherby Asset Management
BS from NYU and MBA Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business
Justina is the Director of Impact Investing and a shareholder at Wetherby Asset Management, an independent investment advisory firm based in San Francisco. Before joining Wetherby, she was a Director at Sonen Capital, an impact investment management firm, where she led the development and implementation of impact investment strategies across the private markets. Previously, Justina helped manage the Rockefeller Foundation’s Program Related Investments portfolio and helped shape Rockefeller’s grantmaking initiative focused on building the field of impact investing. Justina has also held positions with Legacy Venture and Rwanda Ventures, a business incubator launching and operating sustainable agricultural companies Rwanda. Justina started her career in investment banking with Citigroup and private equity with Vestar Capital Partners in New York and Paris.

Justina received a BS in Finance and International Business, summa cum laude, from New York University and an MBA with certificates in Public and Global Management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Justina serves as Finance Chair on the Board of Directors for Turning Green, a student-led global movement focused on promoting positive environmental and social actions.

Responsibilities in current role
As Director of Impact Investing, I lead the firm’s overall impact investment strategy. I am also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee and Chair of the Impact Committee. I am responsible for sourcing, conducting due diligence, managing and reporting on impact investments across asset classes globally. I also support our client service team in developing impact investment strategies and integrating impact investments across client portfolios. Finally, as impact investing is a relatively nascent industry, I spend a fair bit of my time on field building activities including regular speaking engagements and industry thought leadership.

Favorite thing about your role
I love the multi-faceted nature of my role. I work across functions and teams and partner with a diverse group of colleagues and clients. Every day is different and presents new challenges and opportunities.

Most challenging thing about your role
The multi-faceted nature of my role! It can be challenging at times to know which initiatives to prioritize at any given point in time and to find the right balance between the urgent and important and the strategic and tactical.

Something you wish you knew at the start of your career
It’s a journey. You don’t have to have it all figured out from the outset. Just enjoy the journey and make sure that every step you take is consistent and aligned with who you are and aspire to be as a human being.

Biggest accomplishment
Impact investing has given me the incredible privilege to have a positive impact on the world each and every day – not only through my personal activities but also through my work professionally and to directly align my personal values with my professional endeavors. To me, there is nothing more fulfilling or meaningful than that.

If you weren’t doing your current job...
I can’t imagine doing anything else but, if I had to say, I would probably be a musical therapist, a profession that combines my love for music with working with vulnerable children.

Recent read
I am in the midst of reading Strangers in their Own Land – which is my attempt to gain a better understanding of our current political context and to develop empathy for the mindset of the conservative right in America. I’ll let you know if I’m successful after I finish reading the book. Otherwise, I just read The Power, which is based on a fascinating premise of how the world would change if power were in the hands of women.

Something you do outside of work
Travel! I try to take advantage of every opportunity to explore new places, take on new challenges and adventures, experience different cultures, and eat great food.

Favorite restaurant
It depends. But, for all around good food, ambiance and service for the price in San Francisco, I’d go with Frances.