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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Celina Chen

 

Growing up, I was involved with non-profits, and I always knew that I wanted to focus on one or numerous sustainable development goals in the future. Throughout university, I’ve developed an interest towards economic development, global healthcare, and technology, and I’m hoping to someday combine the three elements to create sustainable solutions. Outside of school, I’m currently an advisor for the Western Management Club, specifically for the Boys and Girls Club. I love any active activity, whether it be hiking, biking, skiing, or kickboxing, and I’ve recently starting climbing!

 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Ideally, sustainability means everyone has equal access to all human needs, ranging from sanitation to shelter, clean water to justice. While I understand this is not achievable, how I tend to counter this argument is that this goal would definitely not be achievable if there weren’t individuals, like us, who tried. Every impact, regardless how big or small, allows society to take one step forward. Issues like climate change, civil wars, poor education all hinder global growth, and I believe that everyone who is privileged has a duty to make a conscious effort to improve the world’s many issues.

 

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

My end goal is to build an impact fund or impact consulting practice that specializes in projects for developing countries, ranging from infrastructure to healthcare. While I have been involved with non-profits throughout my entire life, my turning point was in second year, where I took a course called Economic Development. To summarize, we learned about the factors that hindered or promoted the economic growth of developing countries, and how they can differ from each other and developed countries. Learning cases about real life situations that real people were suffering through taught me perspective and privilege. Perspective, in the sense that I realized how minuscule some of my daily complaints were, and privilege, in the sense that I realized I could implement change in my community. In my career, I plan on spending my first few years building capital and skills through a traditional path, with the hope that I encounter like-minded individuals who are interested in the social impact space. However, throughout my traditional career, I plan on getting involved in sustainable activities within and beyond the workplace, and I believe that the Sustainability Certificate at Ivey is a perfect start.

 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

For over a year, I volunteered 15 hours/week at AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led non-profit organization. The main task of my role was to facilitate a professional exchange opportunity for graduate students who typically came from less developed countries. My personal turning moment was when a student from Tunisia continued to work past their exchange term, eventually bringing his wife to Canada to start a better life. The impact that my portfolio was able to have on these students is unlike any experience I’ve had before.

Further, this year, I became an advisor for the Western Management Club, specifically for the Boys and Girls Club charity. I am responsible for reviewing the work product of a student consulting team that is aiming to restructure an arm of the charity. This role has thoroughly increased my interest in the not-for-profit industry, and I hope I can continue my impact throughout my career.

I’ve been called a “dreamer” many times, but I am genuinely so curious about the good in the world and so passionate about dedicating my life to making change.

Celina Chen

Celina Chen