Wynnie Zhao is a dual degree student in HBA and Global Gender Studies passionate about sustainability and the social impact sector. She is interested in the unique intersection between gender, global development, and business. In her free time, she enjoys hitting up a hot yoga class or exploring old bookstores. Wynnie believes that business can be an incredibly powerful tool in creating positive societal change and she is excited to see what the future brings!
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
For me, sustainability represents an approach to business that looks outside the traditional, solely profit-driven model of business. For so long, the only metric of social, environmental, or governance progress was measured by economic growth. However, in the past few years, there has been a call to action for companies to begin looking at their impact on society and the planet. Overall, to me, sustainability is a call to action, a persistent voice that asks each and every one of us to do better and demand better.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
I see sustainability playing two key roles in my future career. Firstly, I hope to begin my career working for businesses that incorporate sustainable practices and mission statements into their core operations. While they may not be solely sustainability focused companies, I hope to bring ideas forth in my role that would improve the ethical and environmental impact of the company. Here, I hope to gain insights into the different ways business and the private sector can play within the social impact space. Eventually, I would like to settle into the social impact sector specifically. Here, I would love to work towards creating long-term sustainable change through a more hands-on approach. More specifically, I can see myself working in impact investing, non-profit, public policy, or academia. Overall, I see sustainability playing a very active role within my professional career and I hope it pushes me to constantly improve and be open to new ideas!
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
This year, I am an executive member of Wateraid Western, a club that supports the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, specifically the increased awareness on clean water and sanitation worldwide. Currently, I am leading the planning for our first annual Sustainable Conference. More specifically, I put together two panel of speakers including professors, industry professionals, and community members related to sustainability.
Additionally, I have always been involved in activities that create positive and long-term impact within my community. This year, I regularly volunteer at my local women’s shelter and work part-time as a research assistant for the Centre for Research on Violence Against Women.
Lastly, this past summer, I was invited to attend the UN’s Youth Assembly in Washington. There, I engaged in many meaningful discussions with World Bank representatives on the importance of encouraging private companies into the social impact space, including the trend of businesses shifting their core strategies towards creating positive sustainable change.