Eliga Services sat down with Julianne Flesher, co-founder of Nossa Data, to discuss ESG. Discover what inspired her to build a FinTech from the ground up and why she’s advocating for more women to take the lead.
Nossa Data is a software provider that allows companies to manage and communicate their ESG performance to investors, regulators, rating agencies and for internal ESG decision-making. Julianne also writes a weekly newsletter on ESG. If you would like to learn more or subscribe, visit here.
Going full feet in ESG
Early on in life, Julianne dreamed of creating a tech company from the ground up. She felt she could have the largest positive impact, both as an individual and a woman, by starting her own business. Julianne’s professional background is in B2C and B2B FinTech start-ups in the London ecosystem. Before she co-founded Nossa Data with its CTO, Irina Dumitrescu, she was searching for a topic that she was passionate enough about to go ‘full feet in.’
When she learned about Environmental Social and Governance (ESG), she was excited. She loved what was happening in the ecosystem.
She remembers, ‘I felt like it really made sense in a lot of ways because it takes some of the most important issues that we face as a society, but it really condenses them around the lens of financial materiality.’
- This means that if you are an oil and gas company, you focus on the sustainability topics most relevant for oil and gas.
- If you are a technology company, you focus on the topics most important for that industry.
Not only did ESG make sense to Julianne, but the topic also fit well with her professional background in FinTech and her studies in Public Health. The co-founder notes that ESG is almost like a blend of the two.
Julianne did not come from the ESG ecosystem. As a result, she quickly realised she needed to build her reputation in this complex space. She began writing a newsletter. With a laugh, she recalls that she found so many good resources from her research that it seemed ‘silly’ not to share this information with her wider network. From this newsletter, Nossa Data’s subscribers grew and grew. It now has multiple thousands of subscribers.
Women in technology
You might think that ESG is Julianne’s biggest passion. Whilst it claims a top spot, she’s most passionate about women rising in the workforce, particularly women in tech. This is another reason why she wanted to start a FinTech company.
In terms of global statistics, the stats are still very bad in relation to the number of women who found Financial Technology companies. She states, ‘I think it’s still well under 15%.’ It’s a figure that needs to be changed. She realised that if she wanted to be an advocate for more women taking the lead, starting tech companies from the ground up, she needed to become a founder.
- Women need more examples, more leadership opportunities, more training, so the data can change.
- Without those examples in place, women may not realise the career paths available.
- Julianne wants to see a more equally divided senior leadership position across organisations and specifically start-ups.
Her goal was always to be a tech founder. However, to be a tech founder she observes that you need to be also a domain expert in the area in which your business operates. Basically, you need to do both things to achieve one or the other. She started obsessively reading and learning about ESG.
She continuously met up with the industry’s leading experts; recalling that ‘in pre-COVID land’, she was ‘cold emailing every single person on the planet and meeting up with them for a coffee.’ She met a lot of people during this period. She had the relationships and the knowledge base. As a result, her newsletter readership quickly grew from this.
Addressing the ESG skill gap
A huge number of ESG professionals today have not done ESG before or they don’t necessarily know about it. While people are usually quite personally passionate about it, there’s a gap in skills.
She explains, ‘It’s an industry where there is way more demand for expertise than there’s actually expertise on the market.’ It relies on people skilling up very quickly. A newsletter lent itself well to the dynamic nature of the industry.
In many respects, ESG is so new, it’s not defined. Julianne believes that most academic programs would struggle to stay up to date with all the changes. She cited the significant number of mergers going on between ESG standards. With multiple updates to those standards happening on a weekly basis, it’s a challenge to stay in the know. If readers are getting three-month-old content right now, the topics can have already changed in that time.
She observes that this is what makes ESG both unique and challenging. Readers need to be getting information and education on a weekly cadence.
Want to find out more about Nossa Data can help with ESG?
Nossa Data’s software makes it easy for companies to stay on top of their evolving ESG needs. Nossa Data also helps companies communicate their ESG performance to stakeholders, investors, regulators, clients, and employees. Learn more.