Get to Know Calvert Impact Capital Staff: Vanessa Moulin
February 03, 2021
We're conducting a series of interviews with our staff, borrowers, and investors. We hope you'll follow along and get to know Calvert Impact Capital and our partners better. Our thirteenth interview in this series is with Calvert Impact Capital staff member, Vanessa Moulin (pictured above center, while on a site visit with Calvert Impact Capital borrower, Affordable Homes of South Texas).
Name: Vanessa Moulin Title: Director, Risk Tenure at Calvert Impact Capital: Five Years Places you’ve called home: Nantes and Pau, France; Seraïdi, Algeria; Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire; Arlington, TX and Arlington, VA; Washington, DC. Languages: English, French, Spanish (a little)
1. What do you do at Calvert Impact Capital?
I am a Director of Risk Management and focus mostly on developing and maintaining credit risk management tools and frameworks for the organization as our portfolio grows. I also work closely with the investments team on transactions as they are brought for approval to our credit committees, providing assistance in deal structuring, evaluating the risk profile of transactions, and ensuring that transactions meet our risk appetite and lending or investment criteria.
A typical workday for me is hard to describe; there is never a dull moment as we are constantly looking at new strategies to further grow impact capital, as driven by our mission. I do a lot of credit and investment research to understand new transactions and impact sectors, and ensure we have the right tools in place to measure risk appropriately.
2. What excites you most about your work at Calvert Impact Capital?
The mission and the culture, which go hand in hand. I love applying my prior experience in more traditional finance and investment to transactions that all have a social or environmental impact. Relatedly, I love that everyone at the organization is one hundred percent focused on expanding the availability of capital for impact. Our culture is very collaborative and values everyone in the organization, too. I feel that every single person at Calvert Impact Capital has the opportunity to positively contribute to our mission, which makes for a really exciting place to work and gets me excited to start my work in the morning.
3. How did you get to Calvert Impact Capital, and more specifically, into impact investing?
From the time I was in high school in France, I had always known that I wanted to go to business school. I had strong math skills growing up but didn’t totally realize what type of work my skillset would lead me to. After I completed an exchange program in Texas, I got my MBA in the US and then was eligible to work for one year in the country. After the year was over, I wanted to stay longer so I found a job at a small financial services company in Dallas that was doing automobile loan securitizations and mortgage securitization. This got me started into housing finance, and later to working at Fannie Mae for about 11 years.
Housing finance is one of the most fascinating areas in capital markets, as it combines sophisticated financing structures, traditional credit risk models, and behavioral finance concepts. It’s not just about modeling cash flows; you also have to understand the behavior of tenants and mortgage borrowers, so you can develop ways to model it and estimate how cash will flow.
While I really enjoyed my work at Fannie Mae, I was interested in finding a way to apply my skills that would have a more direct impact, so I decided to take a year off. I did some research, talked to a lot of people, and was ultimately connected with Songbae Lee, who was at the time a Director on the Calvert Impact Capital investments team. After speaking with him about his work and the organization, I applied to an opening on the Risk Management team. While I had looked at other organizations specifically focused on microfinance, I was most impressed by the broad social and environmental impact of Calvert Impact Capital.
4. If you could have a dinner party with any three guests, dead or alive, who would you invite?
I’d definitely invite Jane Goodall. I just think her work with chimpanzees is fascinating. I also love her demeanor and the way she is so dedicated to her work. I always think of her as an example of someone I want to be like when I grow up. She's super knowledgeable and interesting, and has impeccable style too.
My second invite would go to Vice President Kamala Harris. When I was at Fannie Mae, one of my last roles was leading a recovery effort which involved pursuing claims against organizations who had misrepresented the nature of subprime bonds sold to Fannie Mae, and at the time, Kamala Harris was the Attorney General in California. As an AG, she came out strongly against some of the bad underwriting that had happened in California, so I first noticed her then and later read many of her legal briefs. I think she’d be a very interesting person to chat with, way beyond the topic of failed subprime underwriting. Of course, we could also discuss ways to upgrade tuna melts.
Last spot would go to the Black Pumas, because a dinner party needs good music and ideally musicians at the table.
5. Do you have any reading or listening recommendations? (Books, podcasts, articles, etc.)
The book I've been recommending to everyone recently is “Failing Up” by Leslie Odom Jr., who plays Aaron Burr in Hamilton. He provides life advice and describes how he made it to Broadway. It’s a short book but it’s very powerful. I’d also recommend listening to all of his music as he is a wonderfully talented singer.
I’d also recommend the Black Pumas and the concert they played for the German Rockpalast in early 2020 (can be found on YouTube). They’re an Austin-based band that my friend from Texas introduced me to right before they performed at the inauguration ball. Wikipedia describes them as a “psychedelic soul band."
6. If you had to describe Calvert Impact Capital in one word or term, what would it be?