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Spotlight on Paige Buchanan, C'22: Toward a More Sustainable Future

Nicole Patterson

buchanan feature

This summer Paige Buchanan, a senior international business major, completed an internship at BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, as a fixed income product strategy summer analyst. The investment management corporation, headquartered in New York City, values innovation, problem solving, original thinking and creativity—a perfect fit for Buchanan.

paige-buchanan_headshot-preferred-in-text.jpgEach morning the student-athlete, Honors student and Mount Fellow started her day attending virtual meetings with members from offices in London, Singapore and Beijing where she would meet with business leaders or with other teams to focus on market trends, Federal Reserve policy, and international relations happening across the world that affected different funds and clients. The business major with a concentration in international business and economics was happy to experience BlackRock’s global essence. “I think I got really lucky to be on one of the most diverse teams; there’s a healthy mix of cultural backgrounds and people from Pakistan, China, Latin America and the United States,” Buchanan said. “It’s really awesome to see this firsthand in finance because it is typically known as being a white, male dominated industry.”

With interests in business analytics, Spanish and philosophy being developed as minors, Buchanan, who is half Filipino, was assigned a wide range of projects including programming, portfolio construction, market research and working with Aladdin, BlackRock’s proprietary technology. One of her favorite responsibilities was her final project where she researched the energy transition in China and how that impacted markets, BlackRock and the global community.

“My project walks through the general and economic history of China and what they have done in recent years regarding their markets, specifically in the ESG (environmental, social and governance) space. I later transition to the sustainability piece including their carbon contribution and how they’re addressing it through their emissions trading scheme (ETS) and their green bond issuances, which started in 2015. So it’s relatively new, but it will have a huge impact on the market,” she summarized. Buchanan added: “China’s markets are the second largest in the world, after the United States, with the expectation of surpassing the U.S. in the coming decade or so. They also have the most attractive renewable energy space after the U.S.”

At the start of her senior year, Buchanan has a wealth of experience and ambition regarding research and industry knowledge. Last summer she completed two virtual internships, one with Prudential and a second completing research with Associate Professor Alejandro Cañadas, Ph.D., studying the effects of COVID-19 on international finance, particularly ESG factors. She’s also been diligent to attend virtual or in-person networking events.

buchanan-blackrock-in-text.jpg“I was able to fly out to San Francisco my sophomore year for an event at Bloomberg,” adding it was fully funded. “When the pandemic hit, I was supposed to fly out to Salt Lake City for Goldman Sachs. I’ve been in D.C. for some events and Baltimore for Morgan Stanley, I have been very blessed with these opportunities.” She says networking and getting a better understanding of the industry requires taking the initiative which also complements the internship experience. She added that being involved in a mentorship program at Citi where she was the mentee under a trade and treasury solutions analyst was extremely valuable.

Last spring, she presented at the Richard Macksey Humanities Symposium at Johns Hopkins University. “I was presenting on essentially ethics in renewable finance and the goodness we’re pursuing through it,” she said. Her presentation saw it through an Aristotelian and Kantian lens.

“I don’t think many people think about ethics in big companies,” she admitted. “Young people are very focused toward sustainability; they want social justice. If companies are not willing to conform to that, they are going to be left behind because we’re going to be the ones who are investing.”

Advised by Cañadas, she plans to complete her Honors senior project and continue her research on sustainability in finance and China’s role in it. “They’re anticipated and expected to overtake the U.S. in the coming decade; I think that’s going to be monumental and we need to pay attention,” Buchanan said, adding that she speaks Spanish and has a fundamental knowledge of Mandarin.

Buchanan has many opportunities available, including job offers, applications for prestigious scholarships and fellowships such as the Mitchell Scholarship and Fulbright Fellowship and admission to international master’s programs.

“Finance is one of the biggest, fastest-paced industries in the world. I’ve received great advice from professors when it came to following the markets. You have to read the news every day, even if you don’t understand something—go through it, look it up, keep looking it up. Learn!” she exclaims. Her solid mental capacities have been developed through years as a musician (she plays the viola), athlete (she throws the javelin), competitor (she’s excelled in archery, basketball, and is a mixed martial arts fighter) and leader (she’s a resident assistant).

buchanan-boxing-in-text.jpg“I think what differentiates me when it comes to business is understanding something called stakeholder capitalism,” she said. “When you’re in a business, your goal is to make as much money as you can through the sale of a good or service—that’s the purpose of a business. But you want to give that money to your shareholders, people who have invested in you and helped you to grow.” Buchanan believes that BlackRock invests in its people and clients through its role as a fiduciary. “They’re giving a holistic opportunity for everyone to get better, whether through environmentalism such as funding clean tech infrastructure projects or caring about policies for equality and inclusion. Things like that play a significant part in business and it’s something I strive toward,” Buchanan explained.

Buchanan thanks Associate Professor Michael Barry, Ph.D. for his guidance and help on her SPARC presentation this spring, which won the “Best Business Presentation” award. She worked with an economic model called a computable general equilibrium that focused on how carbon taxes put on businesses would affect the rest of the global economy. She also thanks former Dean of the Richard J. Bolte, Sr. School of Business Michael Driscoll, Ed.D. who encouraged and supported her to pursue a career in finance.

Nicole Patterson