Lena Tang Qiu is entering her first year as an HBA1 after completing two years studying geography at Western University. After completing Ivey’s four-week Women in Asset Management Program (WAM), she is now an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Management Intern at Brookfield Asset Management where she was able to further explore her passion for sustainability.
As I walked through the revolving glass doors of Brookfield Place on a Monday morning, I felt a sense of relief engulf me. I was feeling a mix of excitement and fear leading up to my first day as an ESG Management Intern at Brookfield Asset Management. Coming from a geography background, the world of asset management still felt foreign to me, but I knew that I could lean on the knowledge I received from the four weeks of in-class learning during the Women in Asset Management Program (WAM). Sustainability has always been a passion of mine, so I was curious and open-minded to learning how finance and ESG intersected.
Advocate for yourself
One morning, my manager gave me a piece of advice that has stuck with me: "Own your confidence." After finishing the WAM program, adjusting to a corporate environment was difficult. As the sole ESG intern in the Toronto office, I was constantly interacting with senior leaders across the business, so I felt the pressure of needing to perform well. I knew I was passionate about my work, but I needed to be confident in my skills to positively contribute to my team.
After successfully completing my first project on substantiating Brookfield's Annual Sustainability Report, my confidence grew. I wanted more opportunities to work on ESG strategy so I communicated my interest in working with the other ESG teams across Brookfield’s business groups. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to work on peer comparable analyses with Brookfield's Infrastructure and Private Equity teams. Had I not asked for new projects nor been confident in taking them on, I wouldn’t have the breadth of experience I have today.
One of my largest projects was presenting an evaluation of Brookfield's peer sustainability reports to the ESG leads of each business group. From emissions reporting to biodiversity frameworks, there always seemed to be an endless flow of information regarding ESG reporting. I knew I had a lot of learning to do.
I took it upon myself to review each reporting standard, and schedule regular check-ins with my associate supervisor. At the midpoint of the project, I came across another hurdle: structuring a business presentation. This wasn't another investment thesis or academic presentation, but a presentation that needed to be professional and informative. To be successful, I sought out resources across other teams at Brookfield and spent countless hours reviewing peer investor presentations. In the end, my success was determined by my ability to work independently and think critically to gather, interpret, and communicate my analysis.
Networking shouldn’t be a chore
I’ve always been told that networking is key to being successful at an internship and accelerating your career so I had this idea of “networking equals success.” I felt the pressure of needing to schedule daily chats with as many people as possible, but as an introvert, this was challenging.
I knew I wanted to form meaningful relationships, so I started my conversations by reaching out to the teams that ran the intern “Lunch & Learn” series and connecting with others I’d met during meetings or through my manager. By treating networking as an opportunity to establish a community, rather than checking off an item on my to-do list, I was able to have genuine conversations and connect with every person I spoke to. I centred my conversations around shared interests, projects, and experiences, and since the start of my internship, I’ve been able to build and maintain strong relationships.
The end of a chapter
As my internship at Brookfield is nearing its end, I'm grateful for the opportunities that Melissa Low, Senior Vice President of ESG Management, and Juliana Shirbroun, ESG Management Associate, have given me. I’d also like to extend my appreciation to the entire Brookfield team for making the past three months an amazing journey. Not only have I been pushed out of my comfort zone, but my passion for ESG has only grown. I'm proud to speak about my achievements and I look forward to continuing my journey in sustainability.