Mainly working out of Washington D.C., Andrea Zanon is a globally recognized entrepreneur, career mentor and environmentalist with various accolades to his name. Paired with versatile language skills and expertise in global capital markets, Andrea has developed a strong set of professional peers and mentored international aspiring female entrepreneurs through the stages of starting a profitable business. He is the CEO of WeEmpower Capital, a specialized advisory firm providing investment banking services building partnerships with clients in an effort to close the knowledge gap in finance.
In addition to this day job, Andrea is the acting founder of the WeEmpower Cities Foundation. This organization was begun in 2017 to provide female entrepreneurs around the globe with access to mentorship, professional networking, niche-centric training and early-stage capital development. Since its inception, the foundation has grown its presence in 14 countries, enabling over 10,000 women entrepreneurs to step into this career field.
Andrea has built a solid presence in the strategic international business community, but he also has a keen knowledge of technology and impact investment. More specifically, his company provides financial, technology and ESG advice to institutions seeking access to smart tech and sustainable finance. In his involvement with tech, he has grown more intrigued by its overall impact on the environment. It has become evident to Andrea that the growing climate issues must be met head-on, technology being a funnel for bringing about substantial change.
In 2003, Andrea became the Founder and Vice President of Earth Council Italia. Although climate issues have only rapidly progressed since this time, Andrea has played a pivotal role in raising funds for ESG through climate change adaptation at the Clinton Foundation and the United Nations. Technology has begun to play a larger role in the overall vision for fighting climate change, making Andrea a proud contributor to this research and funding that must take place in order to make these advances possible.
Prior to his lengthy career, Andrea gained both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Philosophy at the University of Bologna in Italy. He also later earned his Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.
Our Interview with Andrea Zanon
Question: What’s the most important thing we should know about you?
Andrea Zanon: I am an international executive fluent in 5 languages, with over 25 years of experience across Impact Investment (and ESG), women entrepreneurship, and tech gained across 20 countries advising the Minister of Finance in the Middle East and Africa, Heads of Corporations and Investment funds. Key to my lasting impacts was putting people first, and not maximizing financial returns.
Question: Name the most impactful lesson you learned from failure.
Andrea Zanon: Failure resulted in stress which I managed to convert into deeper focus on the feedback I received from failing which ultimately became fuel for personal growth.
Question: What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Andrea Zanon: Leading the fund-raising and partnership development efforts during the 2011 drought emergency in Easter Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia and Djibouti). As the head of this mission, I raised 1.8 billion dollar in 6 months across 15 countries and international institutions, crafting partnerships between China, Saudi Arabia, International Financial Institutions and the United Nations. These funds were invested across the energy, agriculture, water and social sectors to build economic and social resilience to help these countries absorb future climate shocks.
Question: What did you waste the most time on when you were first starting your career?
Andrea Zanon: Worrying about what people thought about my choices.
Question: Name a tool you use for work that you can’t live without.
Andrea Zanon: Learning something new every day, improving my nutrition and mental fitness every day, and show gratitude by giving back to others
Question: What is your favorite hobby and why?
Andrea Zanon: Cooking is my favourite hobby as it allows me to relax, connect with nature while also forging relationships with the people I cook with. This is also the way I contribute to a healthier, more sustainable and nutrition lifestyle which I do by organizing periodical cooking reunions around my community.
Question: What excited you the most about your industry right now?
Andrea Zanon: The ongoing technology transformation is accelerating the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investment giving a renewed impetus to stakeholder capitalism. This is where society, shareholders as well as the environment gains from a business and investment decision.
Question: What concerns you most about your industry right now?
Andrea Zanon: While there is a massive interest and growth in ESG related investment, I see significant Greenwashing, which is essentially when a company spends more time and money on marketing themselves as being sustainable than on actually minimizing their environmental impact and societal impact.
Question: What’s the greatest risk you’ve ever taken?
Andrea Zanon: Worked with people I did not know enough. This happened during Covid where face to face meetings were replaced by zoom meetings and where I had to make decisions based on very limited human interaction.
Question: Name one small habit that positively impacts your productivity.
Andrea Zanon: A cold shower, a fresh pomegranate juice, and an intense 15 minutes exercise gives great energy while enhancing my brain performance. This is the result of helping my mitochondria (the cell energy generator) perform at its best
Question: What tips do you have for getting a seat at the table?
Andrea Zanon: Believe in partnership, be over-proactive and understand your target needs
Question: What book has made the biggest impact on your life?
Andrea Zanon: Courage is Calling by Ryan Holiday. This book helped me not to waste any good crisis. Meaning, whenever you experience extreme difficulties, you are presented with opportunities that you can harvest and that would not be available to you without this crisis.
Question: Do you value intelligence or common sense more? Why?
Andrea Zanon: I find that intelligence is often overrated, and I admire the practical street lessons that people are able to translate into action.
Question: What would you consider to be the perfect day?
Andrea Zanon: My ideal day is the one where I cook a meal with my family, I read a good book and I solve business problems surrounded by good partners while having a societal impact.