Category Archives: Featured

About Mark Tercek

Portrait of Mark Tercek above the shoulders outdoors

Mark Tercek is president and CEO of The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the global conservation organization known for its intense focus on collaboration and getting things done for the benefit of people and nature. He is the author of the Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling book Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.

Growing up as a city kid in Cleveland, Mark was a late-bloomer to conservation. It was becoming a parent that sparked his passion for nature. “I want to be able to look my kids in the eye,” he says, “and tell them I did all I could to leave the world a better place.”

A former managing director and Partner for Goldman Sachs, where he spent 24 years, Mark brings deep business experience to his role leading The Nature Conservancy. He is a champion of the idea of natural capital — valuing nature for its own sake as well as for the services it provides for people, such as clean air and water, productive soils and a stable climate.

Mark’s leadership of TNC has been profiled in The New YorkerBloomberg BusinessWeek, the Wall Street JournalThe Atlantic, Delta’s Sky Magazine and Mindful magazine.

During his time at Goldman Sachs, Mark managed several of the firm’s key units, including Corporate Finance, Real Estate Investment Banking, Equity Capital Markets and Pine Street, the firm’s leadership development program. In 2005, after two decades as an investment banker, Mark was tapped to develop the firm’s environmental strategy and to lead its Environmental Markets Group.

Inspired by the opportunity to help businesses, governments and environmental organizations work together in new, innovative ways, Mark left Goldman Sachs in 2008 to head up The Nature Conservancy.

In 2012, Mark was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve on the New York State 2100 Commission, which was created in the wake of Superstorm Sandy to advise the governor and the state on how to make the state’s infrastructure more resilient to future storms. In 2016, Mark was appointed by President Barack Obama to the president’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.

Mark is a member of several boards and councils, including Resources for the Future, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy SolutionsHarvard Business School’s Social Enterprise Initiative, the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED), the Rockefeller Foundation Council on Planetary Health and the Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), TNC’s science joint venture with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Mark serves on the Williams College Board of Trustees and was on the finance faculty of New York University’s Stern School of Business until 2008.

Drawing on his professional background in the financial sector, Mark also leads TNC’s impact capital initiative and serves as board chair of NatureVest.

Mark writes columns and blogs frequently for ForbesHuffington Post and other media outlets. His articles and speeches are available at marktercek.com.

Mark earned an M.B.A. from Harvard in 1984 and a B.A. from Williams College in 1979.

 

Updated: November 28, 2017

Nature’s Banker

The EconomistMark Tercek might seem an unlikely boss of the Nature Conservancy, a big American green group. He spent little time outdoors in his youth and then a quarter of a century working for an investment bank. He has probably worn sandals from time to time; he is not known to have worn a beard. Yet this is apposite. Mr Tercek is at the forefront of a new, businesslike sort of environmentalism, which is changing the way companies and governments view nature.

It typically involves putting a valuation on the useful things that nature does, such as the provision of clean water by a spring or flood protection provided by a forest. Once the value of such “ecosystem services” is established, it can be included in business plans. Thus, New York City’s planners established that, to address their polluted water supply, they could either spend $8 billion to build a giant water treatment plant or $1.5 billion on planting trees and otherwise improving the Catskills watershed. At a stroke, they had a business case for tree-hugging.

read more

Marc Gunther’s Review: The Business Case for Nature

Marc GuntherThe value of nature is astonishing, when you stop and think about it. Marshes protect coastlands. Urban trees clean the air. Forests provide timber. Oceans give us seafood. Snow-capped mountains store drinking water. Some might say nature is priceless.

Not Mark Tercek, the former investment banker at Goldman Sachs who became CEO of The Nature Conservancy in 2008. His new book, Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature (Basic Books, 2013), argues that nature provides enormous economic benefits to society, business and consumers, and that, if we can figure out how to value and pay for those benefits, we can slow down and even reverse the degradation of nature that threatens our well-being.

It’s an important and potentially controversial argument, as Tercek acknowledges. While the 20th century conservation was all about protecting nature from people, Tercek and some of his allies in the environmental movement would like the future to be about protecting nature for people. If nothing else, he argues, recognizing the economic value of nature will expand the base of the environmentalist beyond the white, college-educated and relatively affluent folk, the backpackers and hikers and birdwatchers at its core.

read more

Nature’s Fortune featured in Thomas Friedman’s NYT column

NYTIn his Sunday New York Times column, Tom Friedman writes about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and includes a reference to Nature’s Fortune.

From Friedman’s column:

“Finally, the president could make up for Keystone by introducing into the public discourse the concept of “natural infrastructure,” argues Mark Tercek, the president and chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, and the co-author of “Nature’s Fortune: How Business and Society Thrive by Investing in Nature.”

“’Forests, wetlands and other ecosystems are nature’s infrastructure for controlling floods, supplying water, and doing other things we need to adapt to climate change,” Tercek wrote in an e-mail. “Before Hurricane Sandy, Cape May, N.J., had the foresight to restore its dunes and wetlands to provide storm protection and wildlife habitat. When Sandy struck, Cape May was spared the damage that neighboring towns suffered.'”

read more

Tree-Hitter Tercek Channels Goldman at Nature Conservancy

BloombergOn the day in May 2008 when Mark Tercek, a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), got a cell-phone call from a headhunter informing him that he’d likely gotten the job of running the Nature Conservancy, he was so excited that he backed his Jeep Grand Cherokeeinto a tree, shattering the back window. Anxious that gouging a tree might be a bad omen, he jumped out to see how bad it was. To his relief, he’d done far more damage to his vehicle than the tree.

read more

Outside Magazine Power List

Outside MagazineYes, Ted Turner owns two ­million acres in North America. Kris and Doug Tompkins have protected more than two million in Chile. But the world’s largest, wealthiest conservation organization, TNC, has preserved some 119 million acres (count ’em!) in more than 30 countries. Since taking the reins in 2008, Mark Tercek, 54, a former Goldman Sachs managing director who headed its Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, has weathered a recession that saw TNC’s war chest dip by more than $257 million; spearheaded the conservancy’s expansion into Africa; and cut funding from foundering programs in places like Panama and Guatemala to emphasize big-idea initiatives like an international water fund and a program that gives indigenous people a say in local conservation. He also brought discipline to the organization following a 2003 Washington Post investigation that led to an IRS audit. In meetings, he’s known for repeating (and repeating) his mantra, “Focus like a laser.”

read more

Natural Causes

WSJNearly two years ago, Mark Tercek left his job as a managing director at Goldman Sachs to attend to an ecosystem devoted to another kind of green: the Nature Conservancy. TNC, which watches over 119 million acres of land in more than 30 countries, has a significantly different culture from the one he’d dominated on Wall Street. While conducting his first organization-wide online meeting in 2008, Tercek swigged from a Poland Spring water bottle. The next day, he was greeted by half a dozen welcome gifts from colleagues in the form of reusable water containers. “Not so good to be the brand-new head of the biggest conservation organization and drinking out of a plastic water bottle,” he says.

read more