Lizzette Lara works within Bloomberg’s Sustainable Finance Product Management Team to help financial market participants understand climate risks and make informed investment decisions, taking sustainability goals into account. From weathering major financial crises to moving from Mexico City to New York to take on one of the most enriching challenges of her career, Lizzette’s journey has been a fascinating one, driven by her passions.
Read on to discover how derivative structuring and risk management became Lizzette’s focus, her top priorities as Bloomberg Product Manager for Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG), and how she sees the future of sustainable finance.
Q: Tell us about your background and career path.
A: I have always been very passionate about finance: understanding what drives banking and currency crises, how the financial market responds to them and what impact it has on the economy. That’s why I wanted to do something related to derivatives and risk management.
When I was in school, I was told that French banks were the best at structuring derivatives. It had become a dream of mine to work for a French bank, and I had a great ten-year experience working for two during the Lehman crisis. Those experiences gave me so much insight and knowledge; it was like getting my PhD in risk management and derivatives structuring.
In 2014, I worked in the structuring team of a French bank in New York. I was expecting my second child and had to make a decision between my job and my baby, ultimately choosing to take a sabbatical the year after the birth. A month after his resignation, Bloomberg reached out requesting an interview. I wasn’t expecting much considering I was six months pregnant! I knew little about Bloomberg’s management, culture, and support for women’s careers in finance.
After seven years here as a market risk specialist for Latin America, I joined the ESG Product Management team as a climate product manager and moved from Mexico City to New York. I remember reading that being a product manager was one of the toughest jobs on the market. And that the level of skills required to perform this task well exceeds any standard. I’ve always been passionate about challenges, and product managers are certainly not the type to shy away from a challenge.
Q: What are some of the top priorities of the Sustainable Finance Solutions Team and some of your top priorities as Climate Product Manager?
A: In the role of product manager, I am fully immersed in one of Bloomberg’s core principles: customer satisfaction. Our team is fully committed to building the best products that effectively solve our customers’ problems. We focus on the benefits (not the features) and on the results, rather than the results.
In my role, collaboration is crucial for success. Engineers, salespeople, quantitative staff, analysts and customers are all important stakeholders in our daily work. We must continually validate that our product is effective for our customers. It is important that we understand and anticipate market trends and challenges. That’s why we’re constantly looking for user feedback. When building our solutions, we focus on solving problems. This means we are constantly collaborating with each other, discussing our customers’ problems, discussing the vision for our solution, and continually testing and validating our hypotheses with customers and vendors.
Product managers must be great communicators, strategists, innovators, organizers, researchers, and above all, excellent employees. And we need to be agile, which makes product management roles uniquely challenging.
Question: The shift from Mexico City to New York must have taken some adjustments. How did you experience the move?
A: When I think about adjustments around my new role and new location, I can say that my cultural background has served me quite well. I attribute my tenacity and resilience to my Mexican roots; we always look on the bright side so we can make things happen. This has also proven to be of great importance in my current role. We face many challenges, so having a positive attitude has proven to be a very important asset.
Q: What does a typical day look like for your team?
A: It has become essential for investment professionals to understand the impact of the transition to a low-carbon economy and climate change on investments. Defining and prioritizing the customer challenges we want to help solve and what data, solutions, analytics and tools will help us solve them is no easy task, especially in the climate space.
This requires the team to be unerringly connected at all times, and extensive reading is mandatory if we want to stay informed. There is always a new consultation, regulation or protocol from the scientific community that can change the context for financial professionals.
Q: What inspires you in your work?
A: My passion is to help the financial sector understand and tackle climate change. Although it is hard work and requires dedication and curiosity, it is important to me to be part of this effort. I believe everyone can contribute and make a difference in this important endeavor.