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Lessons from Ivey’s first graduate sustainability conference

  • Adam Odisho, MSc Candidate '22
  • |
  • Nov 10, 2021
Lessons from Ivey’s first graduate sustainability conference

As a student who knows very little about sustainability in a business-related setting, the Ivey Integrate Conference helped me to build my understanding of how the environment and business intersect in order to contribute to a better, and greener, future. The conference brought in various speakers from three different industries: Energy, Impact Investing and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG). These speakers, several of which were Ivey alumni, discussed the various challenges and benefits of being a business that focusses on sustainability in our current economic structure. After the conference, I found that three topics really resonated:

Sustainability in the job market

Sustainability is becoming an important consideration in all industries. Eventually all roles and careers are going to have a sustainability aspect to them. Companies, big and small, are racing to make their  companies more sustainable. Keeping one’s carbon footprint to a minimum is predicted to be the only way a business will be able to maintain relevance and success in the future. Whether these companies make this transition department by department, hiring sustainability professionals, or by acquiring smaller businesses that have already adopted a sustainability policy, these changes will be inevitable for all businesses if they expect to be a part of our world’s future.

Financial input into sustainability

The conference also touched upon the vast levels of investment that are starting to flow to sectors and businesses that are at the forefront of the transformation toward sustainability in the economy – areas as diverse as energy storage, circular materials, and low-impact plant-based foods. The opportunities these investments will create for sustainability-focused entrepreneurs and for the leaders in these new “green” sectors are immense. Who wouldn’t want to make a decent living while also contributing to saving our planet? Currently, the sky is the limit when it comes to the ways in which you can get involved and make an impact.

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination

With sustainability comes challenges. Many companies who currently have successful business models which are not sustainability friendly are going to begin (if they are not already) feeling the impact of forces for change – be it customers, investor or government policy. Nevertheless, the conference highlighted that the goal of sustainability practices should not be to find a single, permanent solution. This inevitably will not work, nor is it realistic. Instead, the shift towards sustainability should be focused on finding adaptable solutions that work as we face different challenges. There is no perfect solution to fixing the world’s sustainability problems, but small incremental changes will go a long way.

Thank you very much to all the organizers and sponsors.