We continue our Meaning and Work series with Stephanie Cohn Rupp.
“Find your conviction and determine ways to pursue that. Keep an open mind about what that looks like.”
What she does: Provides strategic, operational, and systems-level leadership within the impact investing sector, in order to deliver social and environmental improvements along with financial returns on investments.
How she got there: By finding and following her conviction, leveraging new tools along her journey to pursue meaningful change in a variety of sectors and organizations, and seeking values-aligned work environments that have enabled growth and mission achievement.
Stephanie began her career with an ideological lens, motivated by her studies on political and economic development. “I was drawn to organizations with a charitable or philanthropic mission. I just wanted to help people get out of poverty.”
Learning in greater depth about alternative instruments of change and impact, Stephanie pursued work in impact investing long before it was trendy, or even had a formal name. “It wasn’t called impact, but I was so disappointed with philanthropy and aid that I thought business must be the next answer and it became a trend later. I think the same is true in all sorts of sectors.”
Relatedly, Stephanie grew to recognize the importance of a values-aligned work environment for her overall happiness and meaning at work. “I realized the culture of the firm is directly tied to the impact they can have, so I became more judicious. The goals of an organization can be excellent but that doesn’t always mean there will be a strong culture internally; it’s an important reality.”
As Stephanie became a CEO for the first time with Toniic, a global community of impact investors, she found a sweet spot for her professional strengths, values, and conviction. “The job that changed my life was Toniic… it gave me a sense of my own leadership style and limitations. For people who like to lead, it’s worth taking a risk for a role that lets you lead. I’m so very grateful to the Board members of that firm that gave me a chance.”
Having found the new “non-negotiables” for her personal work environment, Stephanie deepened her knowledge of self, which she credits as a critical factor in finding meaning in work.
Her work today: As COO of Veris Wealth Partners, Stephanie supports the growth and evolution of a Registered Investment Advisory firm that allows clients to align their wealth with their values.
Stephanie commented, “One of the reasons I pursued the job at Veris was to work for Patricia [Farrar-Rivas] the CEO; had she been in a different industry, I might have followed her there.”
Where Stephanie finds, and makes, meaning in her work:
- Following her conviction: Across roles, companies, and sectors, Stephanie’s foundational conviction has endured.
- Maintaining an open mind about tools for change, and helping to shape the narrative on innovative ways to advance impact: Stephanie is highly regarded as a leader in the impact investing movement, consistently providing new and intriguing insights to the advancement of the field.
- Consistently advancing her professional skills and leadership presence: With an industry-agnostic lens, Stephanie has pursued opportunities to sharpen her strategic acumen, enhance her leadership profile, and elevate her degree of influence.
- Contributing to a values-aligned work environment: With a deep knowledge of self, Stephanie has prioritized work environments where she is fundamentally harmonized with the values of the firm.
Advice for Meaning Seekers: Stephanie believes it starts with self-knowledge. Understand what motivates you, and what you value in a work environment. Recognize the areas of development you’d like to pursue, and find a role that addresses each of those.
Stephanie encourages a sector-agnostic approach, as well, “People clip their own wings by saying ‘I don’t want to be in tech or corporate, I only want to work for nonprofits, or I only want to work in a large firm.’ Industries are developing quickly; sectors are no longer independent and predictable. ”
What Stephanie would be doing if she weren’t doing this: Stephanie would be an investigative journalist, conducting in depth interviews for the news or documentary media.