Working Together for a Sustainable Future

An exert from our MT21 Insight magazine written by Claire Tan.

Researchers at Oxford University’s very own Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment are united in working towards the common purpose of creating a healthy planet and a fairer, more prosperous world. Their world-class research aims to equip enterprises with the information they need to achieve net zero emissions and meet their sustainable development goals. With climate change on the rise and corporations playing a huge part in this, their research is instrumental in understanding how we can evolve sustainably. I interviewed Dr. Xiaoyan Zhou to find out more about the work they do there and her personal motivations.

Please could you introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today?

My name is Xiaoyan Zhou, and I have been working as a Research Associate/Lead on Performance at the Sustainable Finance Programme at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment for 4+ years. I completed my Ph.D. in Finance at Henley Business School in 2017. Four years of systematic training in teaching, independent research and the development of academic activities allow me to continue my research in sustainable finance at the University of Oxford.

What motivated you to focus your research on sustainable finance?

I decided to start research in responsible investment (today this refers to sustainable finance) at the age of 30 when my daughter Mary was born in 2010. Ten years ago, neither the concept nor the importance of sustainable finance drew much attention in society. Luckily, I got to know this area through a lecture at the University of St. Andrews, where I did my first-year Ph.D. Sustainable finance is an effective way to direct funding to low-carbon business activities and help transition to a more sustainable and greener economy. I wanted to contribute to this area and do my bit for the good of the next generation.