Business leaders talk at Saint Michael’s about fundamentals to successful organizations

October 6, 2023
Izzy Quam '25

More than 50 students and faculty gathered in the Roy Room in Dion on a recent evening to attend a panel discussion, “The ABCs of ESG.” 

Saint Michael’s Director of the Career Education Center Ingrid Peterson introduces panelists at the “ABC’s of ESG” panel discussion held on Oct. 3, 2023. (Photo by Izzy Quam ’25)

ESG is an acronym for environmental, social, and governance, an approach that is becoming more prevalent in business throughout the country. 

The event on Oct. 3 included a panel consisting of Gary Levante ’09, Vice President and Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Berkshire Bank Foundation; Noah Miller, Chief Advisory Officer and head of ESG Advisory Services at Rho Impact; and Vermont State Treasurer Mike Pieciak. Given their different backgrounds, the panelists were able to provide broad information about ESG from a wide range of perspectives.

The panel began with an explanation of what ESG is and why they believe it is important. ESG, the panelists explained, is largely based on risk analysis. 

“Ultimately what we are talking about is a management framework for identifying and addressing the risks and opportunities that come with the changing government, the changing society, and the changing economy,” Miller said. “ESG is not about your values, it is about value creation.”  

Gary Levante ’09 (Courtesy photo)

Levante added, “I’ll ask you this: don’t you want a company that operates ethically? Don’t you want to buy products or services from a company that treats its employees fairly?”  

After the panelists explained a bit about ESG and how it is incorporated in their fields, audience members were given an opportunity to ask questions. Students asked questions about the role ESG plays in commercial real estate, problems the panelists encounter while working with ESG, current risks and topics being addressed, and what is missing from ESG that could be added. 

One audience member noted that both the audience and the panel was very male dominated and asked about women in the industry. While the event may not have been the perfect example, the panelists explained that women make up a lot of the ESG workforce.  

Noah Miller, Noah Miller, Chief Advisory Officer and head of ESG Advisory Services at Rho Impact (Courtesy photo)

“When I am at industry conferences, or speak at events, I find that 70 percent of people there are women,” Levante said. “I don’t think what you see on stage today is reflective of the diversity in this industry.”  

Miller explained that many women executives are the ones that see the need for this kind of work. 

“I find women executives have a much more holistic and cerebral understanding of why this is what business inherently is today,” Miller said.  

Pieciak also touched upon the importance of having a diverse group make decisions,  

“The more diversity you have in your decision-making, the better decisions you make as an organization,” Pieciak said. 

Vermont State Treasurer Mike Pieciak (Courtesy photo)

While the panelists acknowledged there is still work to be done to improve diversity, they agreed progress has been made.  

Photo by Ingrid Peterson

After the questions, the panelists concluded with a few thoughts they wanted the audience to take away.  

“These concepts of ESG are fundamental and critical to the success of any organization and yourself,” Pieciak said.  

In our ever-evolving society, Miller added, “the world needs all of you more than ever today.”


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