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3 takeaways from Education Summit 23: delving into ESG and impact

The annual Education Summit, held on September 29th, brought together the industry’s leading experts, thoughts, and dialogues within the education sector. LAVA Advisory Partners, with our active specialisation in education mergers and acquisitions, marked our place at the event with LAVA Partner Hamish Martin’s panel talk – “ESG and impact: how to align commercial and social goals.”  

The discussion, chaired by journalist Alessia Argentieri and featuring experts Ian Koxvold and Alan Diaz, explored various aspects of impact investing and ESG principles, unveiling the emerging complexities and opportunities, especially through the lens of the panel’s practical experiences within the education sector. 

Here, we delve into three crucial takeaways from Hamish’s contribution to the discussion.

Key takeaway 1: Shifting dynamics and expectations around ESG 

In the last five years, maintaining strong ESG policies has moved from being a unique advantage to a fundamental expectation. 

Although a discernible shift towards embracing ESG principles is apparent, Hamish underscored that these considerations have not been universally adopted across all investment discussions or transactions. 

This reveals a tangible inconsistency in how ESG is prioritised among investors and stakeholders.

Key takeaway 2: Talent acquisition and purpose within the ESG Framework

Talent is a pivotal area where ESG practices can markedly influence commercial outcomes. The ability to attract, retain, and cultivate talent by intertwining effective ESG initiatives and maintaining a purpose-driven outlook can distinctly shape an organisation’s appeal to both investors and potential employees.  

However, as Hamish pointed out, once-differentiating ESG policies, like carbon offsetting and volunteer days, are now becoming basic expectations, requiring businesses to probe deeper into truly integrating purpose and impact within their operations and culture. 

Key Takeaway 3: Striking a balance between social and environmental objectives 

Embarking on ESG improvements, particularly concerning the environmental facets, comes with its share of challenges, necessitating a judicious balance between commercial and social objectives.  

Hamish noted that we know several educational establishments that have worked towards laudable carbon neutrality goals. However, some have faced significant hurdles, especially financial ones, in their endeavour to transition fully to green operations. 

Crafting a balance that coherently aligns with both commercial and social goals, without compromising an organisation’s financial stability, requires refined strategising and prioritisation. 

Conclusion: ESG and the path forward 

Wrapping up the session, Hamish conveyed one of LAVA’s key beliefs: a well-executed ESG strategy should naturally bolster commercial returns, initiating a shift towards sustainability and social impact, potentially reducing costs, and enhancing commercial viability in the long term. 

His insights pave the way for deeper, more nuanced discussions on how organisations, particularly in the education sector, can innovatively and pragmatically intertwine ESG goals with their commercial and social aspirations, steering towards a future where profitability and positive impact are not just aligned but mutually enhancing. 


Embarking on a journey of aligning commercial viability with real ESG impact? Your pathways to profitable and conscientious investment start with strategic consultation. Our specialists at LAVA bring nuanced expertise in integrating ESG practices within the educational sector, ensuring investments are not just profitable, but also ethically impactful. Reach out to our team today