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Bud Sturmak ’95 Ties Sustainability To The Bottom Line With Bluesky Investment Management

by Matt Getty

At first glance, high finance and sustainability seem to have little in common, but nine years ago, Bud Sturmak ’95 decided to take a deeper look. It began when he was a partner with RLP Wealth Advisors, and he first saw that a company’s financial success couldn’t be predicted by financial analysis alone.

“A light bulb went off when I saw that companies with great workplaces outperformed companies that weren’t regarded as good places to work,” he says of his first experience reading an academic study on environmental, social and governance (ESG) analysis, an emerging field focused on how nonfinancial factors can impact business performance.

The more he looked into ESG, the more Sturmak saw that issues like environmental stewardship, resource management, human capital and labor practices had a real, measurable effect on the bottom line. The problem was there weren’t many people paying attention.

“The evidence was out there,” says Sturmak. “I mean, undeniably, many of these ESG factors were proving to be financially material and affecting how companies perform, yet as recently as five years ago most of Wall Street was ignoring the information.”

For Sturmak, the ability to spot trends others were missing is a direct result of his Dickinson education. “Dickinson ingrained in me—and I think in many of my friends—this more worldly point of view where you have to understand that there are other perspectives and other ways of looking at things,” explains the former history major. “You learn that you shouldn’t just accept the status quo, and you learn how to ask the right questions. It was a four-year life experience that emphasized the importance of being curious.”

So when Sturmak began to think about launching a new investment firm, BlueSky Investment Management, which would focus on integrating financially material ESG factors into a global fundamental value equity strategy, naturally he wanted to get more Dickinsonians involved. To help with the analysis needed to determine if there was a solid connection between success and sustainability, he tapped Andrew Ford ’11, who’s now a research analyst with the firm.

“Dickinson’s focus on sustainability was ever present during my time there, and I think the college also prepared me to apply my quantitative background to any field,” says Ford, a former mathematics and economics double major who first started working with Sturmak on this research at RLP. “So when I was presented with the opportunity to use sustainability data to improve traditional financial analysis, it was a great way to merge my education and background with the values and ideals Dickinson is trying to foster in the world.”