John Buley Has Energy to Burn

Luck and a lot of knowledge brought the finance professor fulltime to campus.
July 28, 2015

Finance professor John Buley is an enthusiast—for teaching, for Duke, for the power of markets, and for the potential of impact investing to change the world.

Buley was a managing director at J.P. Morgan and came to Fuqua frequently while his son, Thomas Buley ’10, was an undergraduate student. He spoke to students about careers in banking. He also spoke about his work in a newly formed initiative, J.P. Morgan Social Finance, exploring how capital markets could provide funding for impact investments.

“I was very lucky to get involved early in the impact investing field and was particularly interested in how financing energy projects could positively affect society. I was also lucky to come to Duke frequently to experience for myself, as a parent, the level of student and faculty engagement in issues of consequence to the world.”

After nearly twenty-five years as a banker, Buley was seeking his third career—as an academic. “I had a great career going at J.P. Morgan, but I knew if Fuqua asked me to teach, I would come down in a minute.”

As luck would have it, Buley got his wish and retired to teach corporate restructuring at Fuqua in 2012. Then the school developed an energy finance concentration.

The energy finance concentration explores energy-sector issues through various lenses, such as markets, governance, and impact investing. Buley brings the big-bank perspective, but as a pioneer and leader in the field of impact investing, he understands sustainability concerns.

And as a professor of the practice of finance, he knows how to lead students where they want to go. “Students are the voluntary canaries in the mineshaft in this field,” he says. “They saw this coming—the oil patch, the gas patch, and renewables. They know energy and related businesses’ consumption is a significant and growing part of the economy.”

Fuqua is the first top-ten M.B.A. program to offer the concentration, which complements the sustainability initiative—the Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment (EDGE). Buley delights in the program’s dual attraction. “In one course I’m teaching budding investment bankers and consultants, and two hours later I’m with twenty students who want to change the world. I’m the luckiest guy on campus."