Sonnet to Stocks

PROVO, Utah – Dec 04, 2019 – What does Shakespeare have in common with impact investing? Some might say there’s no connection, but for 2018 BYU English graduate Marianna Giordano that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Like many other incoming freshmen, when Giordano came to BYU, she wasn’t sure what to focus her studies on. She took introductory courses in several different areas, switched disciplines once or twice, and felt more than a bit lost as she contemplated that question so dreaded among college students: “What should I major in?”

Eventually, however, the answer became clear, and Giordano decided to major in English. More than anything, she was drawn to the idea of gaining strong communication skills—skills that promised to be an asset in any future career. With her choice to study English, Marianna soon found herself immersed in the world of Milton, Chaucer, and Wordsworth.

Given Giordano’s interest in an English degree, many were surprised when she decided to apply for a full-time job at University Impact, a Provo company dedicated to investing in socially minded businesses. “I initially didn't want to apply because I didn't think I was qualified enough,” she recalls.

Initially University Impact may seem more like a scene for business students rather than an English major who could write essays with ease but wasn’t well-versed in economics. Nonetheless, Giordano was committed to getting involved in making the world a better place. She remembered something Todd Manwaring, director of BYU Marriott’s Ballard Center for Self-Reliance and her teacher in the “Do Good. Better” class had told her: "Impact investing is the future of social impact." Giordano’s desire to make a difference overcame her fear, and she submitted her application.

To her delight, Giordano was accepted as a University Impact associate. Although she felt inadequate, she determined to give her best effort. She began to grow into her duties, learning how to evaluate different for-profit solutions to difficult social problems.

Giordano soon discovered that her background in English was actually an advantage. In classes for her major, she had learned how to assess and analyze information. She found that creating an investment recommendation—or researching and deciding which companies to invest in—wasn’t all that different from how she processed other projects in her life. In the end, she recognized that any academic or work experience that provides opportunities to critically analyze and solve problems is essential in work settings.

Giordano’s time at University Impact gave her the chance to meet and work with entrepreneurs from around the world. She met passionate and creative people working to solve all kinds of social issues. “Working at University Impact opened my eyes to how many people in different countries are working to address social problems,” she says.

For those who are interested in having an experience like hers, Giordano says students should be open to different possibilities. “I wish that I didn't hold myself back so much as a student from participating in different experiences out of fear I wasn't qualified,” she says. “I've come to realize that if you are prepared, open to learning, and willing to work hard, a lot of people are willing to take a chance on you.”

Giordano also says that not having a business background shouldn’t be a barrier to opportunities. She encourages students in that position to talk to people who are doing what they want to do. “Ask them to describe their educational path and journey,” she says. “Some of the most successful individuals in business don't have an academic background in business—they became successful through hard work and experience. For whatever it is you are interested in doing, figure out what skill sets are needed, be a self-starter, and teach yourself.”

Marianna Giordano
2018 BYU English graduate Marianna Giordano.

Media Contact: Alicia Gettys (801) 422-5283
Writer: Zelle Harris