Learn More About George Serafeim
In recent years, boards and investors have started realizing that a strategic approach to managing environmental, social and governance issues (ESG) can significantly boost a company’s bottom line, reputation and ability to compete. They are also realizing that customers, employees and supply chains are closely watching how organizations perform in these areas and holding them accountable.
Helping leaders move beyond simply meeting regulatory requirements to extracting real value – while positively impacting society – is Harvard Business School professor, business advisor and multi-award-winning investment strategist George Serafeim. His pioneering work on tracking and building the data around ESG issues in the last decade led to his becoming one of the world’s foremost authorities, and he continues to advance the field.
Named “one of the most influential people in ESG investing” by Barron’s, Serafeim works closely with boards, executives and managers on ESG initiatives, providing performance measurements, conducting future scenario analyses, and keeping decision makers apprised of what lies ahead in the regulatory space so they can strategically plan forward.
“There are some fundamental differences between early ESG research and today’s – what we call the 2.0 version of ESG. We are now putting more emphasis on materiality, understanding how and why ESG issues are financially material,” says Serafeim. “By leveraging data science and other new sources of information, we are able to tackle big problems while helping portfolios and companies perform better.”
In addition to teaching courses in the Harvard MBA, executive education and doctoral programs, Serafeim co-teaches the megahit class “Reimagining Capitalism: Business and Big Problems” with Professor Rebecca Henderson. This increasingly popular class received the Ideas Worth Teaching Award from the Aspen Institute and is ranked the #1 course at Harvard Business School according to student surveys.
Outside of Harvard, Serafeim is co-founder of KKS Advisors, a consulting firm that works closely with business leaders on sustainable growth strategies. His new book, “Purpose and Profit: How Business Can Lift Up The World” (HarperCollins Leadership, August 2022), will offer leaders a roadmap to executing ESG strategy based on his years of pioneering research and practice.
Described by The Financial Times as “a turning point for companies and investment managers in integrating ESG issues into business and investment strategies,” Serafeim’s research is grounded in more than 30 studies that went deep inside organizations to understand their ecosystems – how they set targets, their metrics, culture, how they practice transparency and how leaders enable their teams to make progress toward sustainability. His recent research on the Impact-Weighted Accounts Project lays out methodologies and models for measuring costs and benefits associated with a firm’s actions and provides tools for analyzing both performance and impact. Positive impact offers organizations a competitive advantage in the “race to the top” and a tangible way for them to communicate transparency to interested investors, supply chains, employees and customers.
“Companies must move beyond box checking and window dressing,” says Serafeim. “In a world that increasingly judges them on their ESG performance, they must look to more fundamental drivers—particularly strategy—to achieve real results and be rewarded for them.”
As boards, executives and managers are increasingly being tasked with addressing ESG issues, Serafeim’s ability to help leaders strategically and proactively plan forward offers firms a unique opportunity to reap significant returns while serving society.
George Serafeim is the Charles M. Williams Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He currently serves as an advisor to the boards of several investment firms that focus on ESG issues as catalysts for value creation in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Recently, he was elected to the Board of Directors of Liberty Mutual. Professor Serafeim has held several positions of leadership. He is the co-founder of the advisory services firm KKS Advisors and the technology firm RG Sciences, and an academic partner at State Street Associates. He serves on the board of directors of AEA-Bridges Impact Corp., the steering committee of the Athens Stock Exchange and as the Chairman of Greece’s Corporate Governance Council. Moreover, he has extensive experience in the investment management industry serving on the advisory board of investment firms in the US, Europe and Asia, that focus on ESG issues as catalysts for value creation. He has served on several not-for-profit organizations including the board of directors of the High Meadows Institute and the Standards Council of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board.
Serafeim has presented his research to government and business leaders in over 60 countries including talks at the World Economic Forum at Davos and the Aspen Ideas Festival, and he is ranked top 10 among over 12,000 business authors by the Social Science Research Network. His widely cited work has been published in the most prestigious academic and practitioner journals, including Management Science, The Accounting Review, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Accounting and Economics, Journal of Finance, Organization Science, Journal of Accounting Research and Harvard Business Review. His research is regularly cited in the media, including The New York Times, Bloomberg, Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Economist, BBC, Le Monde, Washington Post and NPR. He is the recipient of multiple awards and recognitions, including the Pericles Leadership Award from the Hellenic Republic and the Kim B. Clark Fellowship on Responsible Leadership at Oxford University for his research on corporate sustainability and the integration of ESG issues in investing. He also won the 2022 JIBS Decade Award for his 2012 co-authored paper, What Drives Corporate Social Performance? The Role of Nation-level Institutions.
Serafeim earned his doctorate in business administration at Harvard Business School, where his dissertation was recognized with the Wyss Award for excellence in doctoral research. He received a master’s degree in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he was awarded the Emeritus Professors’ Prize for best academic performance.
George Serafeim is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.