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Norselab expands impact team, brings onboard sustainability specialist from BlackRock

In preparation for the launch of several new fund initiatives, Norselab ups its sustainability focus, building an internal impact team to support its ecosystem of funds. Former VP in Sustainable Investing at BlackRock, Kenza Akallal, is the investment manager’s first new hire to the impact team.

Kenza Akallal
Kenza Akallal joins Norselab most recently from BlackRock. Photo: Norselab.

The French-Canadian-Moroccan sustainability expert will officially join the Norselab team in January 2022 to help ensure that new investments into the funds’ portfolios create net positive impact on people and the planet.

A sustainability pioneer

In her previous job at BlackRock, one of the world’s leading investment managers, Akallal was instrumental in shaping the ESG analysis that was deployed in BlackRock's technology platform and research.

It all started when she participated in a project group that worked on integrating sustainability into BlackRocks proprietary tech platform. Akallal even wrote the first lines of code for the tool that allowed portfolio managers, product strategists and risk managers to understand portfolio ESG positioning, risk and performance at a whole new level.

As Norselab’s new Sustainability Specialist, Akallal will be central to ensuring that Norselab delivers on its sustainability commitments, and to develop industry-leading methods for impact assessments across the investment process.

Startups, technology and sustainability

When considering her next career move, Akallal had decided on three main criteria she wanted her next job to fulfil:

- I broke it down to three key elements I was hoping to find: I wanted to work within the startup ecosystem in a company that embraces technology, in a role centered around sustainability, she shares.

When she met with Norselab CIO Yngve Tvedt and Chief Sustainability & Communications Officer Maria de Perlinghi, she was convinced she had reached her new destination.

- Beyond ticking all the boxes and having sustainability as part of their DNA, I was particularly struck by Norselab's fearless approach to innovation, their integrity and how they pursue investments in meaningful growth companies. Meeting the people I would get to work with convinced me that it was the right decision for me, Akallal adds.

Investing in net positive impact

The ambition to back companies with the potential to transform global industries with large, negative footprints is part of Norselab’s DNA. This is where the investment manager believes positive change is most urgently needed, and where the companies in its portfolios can drive massive, global impact as they scale. Norselab’s funds are also founded on the belief that net positive companies are likely to offer superior returns for investors over the next couple of decades. Akallal is enthusiastic about the opportunities:

- I’m strongly convinced that some of our generation's biggest challenges will be solved by companies or technologies that haven’t been created or scaled yet, she says.

De Perlinghi explains that Norselab aims for a credible and honest approach to impact. As Norselab prepares to launch new funds with an even stronger impact profile, it was a given for her that they need more, highly qualified people to make sure that they deliver on their promises.

"The ideal candidate"

- Kenza was the ideal candidate for Norselab’s impact team. Her experience and skills are world-class, and the competence she brings to the table will be central to everything we do in the coming years, says de Perlinghi.

- In addition, Kenza is a fantastic cultural fit with our team, as she brings a joyful note and a thoughtful perspective into every conversation, she adds.

As the investment manager prepares to launch further funds, there is a clear intention to deepen the commitment to sustainability. De Perlinghi explains that Norselab had a deliberate approach to impact at the launch of Fund I, but that subsequent funds will have a significantly enhanced impact focus.

- Although we have come a long way over the past year, growing the impact team is crucial to develop the state-of-the-art impact approach we are aiming for. Akallal will be instrumental in further sharpening our approach, deepening our analysis and streamlining our work processes, de Perlinghi concludes.

Akallal will move from Paris to Oslo to join the Norselab team early January 2022.