Acre: Demand growing for impact-oriented professionals

With more capital being directed to meet urgent social and environmental needs, demand for individuals with an impact mindset is growing, says Acre’s Ian Povey-Hall.

Ian Povey-Hall

What is the current state of the recruitment market for infrastructure impact professionals?

We are seeing an evolution of the role of ESG teams to cover more and more sustainability, and ultimately impact-orientated aspects of existing and potential investments. Most large infrastructure funds now have dedicated ESG teams in place, which in turn is driving demand for specialist individuals who can operate through an
outcome-orientated, impact lens. 

The ideal candidate is technically sound, has a very high level of emotional intelligence, is able to operate as part of the deal teams and can articulate impact principles and narratives effectively to investors or shareholders and stakeholders from a value-add perspective. 

What key compensation trends do you see in this area?

Compensation levels across the board have shown a significant increase in the past 18 to 24 months. Like the whole of the ESG, sustainability and impact market, it is candidate-led, resulting in top-tier talent often being involved in multiple processes at the same time. The way to improve your chances of securing these candidates is to ensure your proposition is the most aligned to a candidate’s perspective of how they can create positive change within the infrastructure space while offering a competitive level of compensation, including carry. 

What are specialist infrastructure impact firms looking for when recruiting new talent?

Specialist firms are looking for investment and operational talent who have deep expertise in specific areas core to the theory of change of that fund. These may include social and digital infrastructure, the future of mobility, smart cities, energy transition, waste and recycling, access to education, healthcare or affordable housing. 

As an example, we are working on a project to source investment and operational individuals for a new fund focused on repurposing and decarbonising infrastructural processes used in the global textiles value chain. 

How do you expect talent supply and demand to evolve in 2022 and beyond?

Supply versus demand is obviously the key issue when looking to make these hires. On the demand side, I expect to see an increase for impact measurement and management talent, as well as individuals who can create value both at an operating level and by advising on origination targets through their pre-investment analysis to deliver verifiable positive net impact as a function of scale. 

On the supply side, we will continue to see the need for individuals to transition into this space using core transferable skills developed in specialist consulting firms, public sector organisations and corporates. I expect more top talent to seek to become impact specialists from the outset of their careers and over time this will help to bridge the supply versus demand gap. In the meantime, funds need a strong overall proposition and a highly targeted approach to attract the best candidates in the market.

Ian Povey-Hall is executive director and global head of sustainable finance and impact investing at recruitment firm Acre.