Serena Rivera-Korver - Analyst

Serena Rivera-Korver

Champion of the changemaker

I take everything I’ve learned and apply it to exciting new companies that have the same itch as me—to better the world at scale.

In September 2017, the island of St. Martin was catastrophically battered by climate change-induced hurricanes in the costliest tropical cyclone season on record. Nine months later, my flight circled the island filled with anxious passengers peering out the window at a community only beginning to recover. My passport was hurriedly stamped in the white emergency tent that served as the SXM airport. The marina I’d call home for the summer was filled with debris and half-sunken yachts, and the once-populated bay no longer had running water or electricity. Most of the homes there had been condemned.

I spent four months on St. Martin working with and embedding myself into the island community, and exploring my own Caribbean heritage. I listened to first-hand stories of grief and suffering from island locals who couldn’t afford to evacuate, or who wanted to stay and protect their homes and businesses during the hurricanes. I remember feeling the collective grief of these Caribbean people—my people—and anger at the injustice of climate change. My time in St. Martin so deeply illuminated the social, economic, and environmental tragedies of climate change that it has become my mission to build a career in finding solutions to the problems I have seen.

After my summer in St. Martin, I returned to Duke University galvanized to pursue a career in environmental science and policy. But in the years that followed, I watched politicians mock climate change and the plight of Caribbean American citizens, and witnessed years of policy solutions being rolled back. I saw well-meaning but ineffectual nonprofits struggle to make an impact—and quickly realized that few organizations had the scale or speed needed to battle climate change.

I felt most inspired by the actions of businesses, specifically technology companies, that had mastered the concept of scale and time-based competition.

So I spent two years working as a growth product manager for AI and ML SaaS offerings at IBM while I finished my degree. Then in my senior year, I was accepted into Harvard Business School via their 2+2 program, which opened my eyes to investing at the intersection of technology, business, and sustainability. Now, at Ulu Ventures, I take everything I’ve learned and apply it to exciting new companies that have the same itch as me—to better the world at scale. If you consider yourself or your company a changemaker, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I can’t wait to meet you!

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