Wharton sophomore Linda Wu interviews Vaibhav Gowda, a new staff member at WSII.
After first hearing about WSII through a friend and a LinkedIn post, Vaibhav Gowda is now the team’s new Impact Program Associate. I had the chance to speak with him about his background in impact investing, what he’s doing now, as well as his favorite cake flavor!
What is your role at WSII?
VG: I’m going to be helping out with the student experiential learning programs, primarily the Fund for Health and Wharton Impact Venture Associates (WIVA). I will help students source early stage startups, conduct due diligence, and understand the investment process.
What did you do before WSII?
VG: I’ve been interested in impact investing and the impact space for a while. I first worked at a microfinance company in high school. Since then, I worked at an investment bank that specialized in impact investing and, right before coming to WSII, I worked for both a foundation and an impact venture capital fund focusing on emerging markets.
How did you hear about WSII?
VG: My colleague was a former student fellow at WSII. From her, I got an understanding of WSII and all the great things WSII is doing, and how WSII is essentially an academic institution at the forefront of the impact investing space. I saw this job opening on LinkedIn and thought it was exactly the kind of work I would like to be doing.
Why did you choose WSII?
VG: I like campus environments a lot. I like being around professors and students and being in a very intellectual and nurturing atmosphere like a university, so I thought a position like this would be interesting and an education institution like the University of Pennsylvania would be incredible.
What does social impact mean to you?
VG: It means positively affecting those who haven’t been served equally and equitably by the systems already in place and serving them in a meaningful way.
What do you look forward to the most while working with students?
VG: I’m very excited see the students we have on the programs, the work they’re going to be doing, the energy they’re going to bring, the deals they’ll assess, and how they’re going to navigate the programs. I’m also very excited to see how students become young associates and how they interact meaningfully with founders in ways that they normally wouldn’t as students. They seem to be doing very well already.
How does WSII fit in with your future goals?
VG: I want to eventually manage my own impact fund, and I think that this role will give me a much more nuanced understanding of the impact side of impact investing and well as sourcing, conducting due diligence, and working with a team of associates.
How can students reach you?
VG: I am available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Okay, now for some speed round questions. What’s an item on your bucket list?
VG: Visiting all 50 states in the United States—I’m already at 20.
What flavor would your birthday cake be?
VG: Probably red velvet.
What’s your favorite thing to eat for dinner?
VG: Fried chicken.
What superpower would you want to have?
What are you listening to these days?
VG: Drake, The Lumineers, Pearl Jam, Jay Z, and The Startup Weekly Podcast.
What are you most excited for at Penn?
VG: All the interesting speakers that are coming to Penn and Wharton, fall on campus, rooting for the Quakers, and the old school traditions.