HBA Sustainability Certificate
Empowering the next generation of sustainable leaders
Hi! My name is Rachel Beyfuss and I am an HBA2 student interested in starting a career in sustainability. During my first two years at Western University, I majored in Sociology and minored in French studies. I enjoy the outdoors and activities such as swimming, skiing, and hiking. It was my experience in the Sociology program that educated me on the inequality and misconduct in our current economic, social, and environmental systems. This sparked my interest in sustainable practices and I aspire to have my future as an HBA graduate not only benefit me but also the world we live in!
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
Sustainability is a term that has multiple pillars, not only does it relate to our environment, but also to other social and economic practices in our systems. It can be technically understood as being able to meet present needs while also ensuring there are resources available for the future. To me sustainability means a great deal, as our world has seen the damaging effects of corporate irresponsibility when businesses do not address social challenges. A company’s goal should never be to solely make profit, but instead should focus on the connection of the three pillars, and its benefit to society and our environmental health.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
The world is at a breaking point from the detrimental effects of prioritizing short-term gain overlong term strategic business decisions. It is clear we have built a system on weak foundations as we are currently experiencing the largest wealth gap in history, increasing unemployment rates, global protests, and a dying planet. My education in sociology and business has allowed me to holistically analyze our position. It is undeniable that the path we are on is unsustainable. I am passionate about entering the business world as a leader, ready to transform corporations to more abiding, socially, and environmentally responsible practices. After completing Ivey’s HBA program, I aim to work in the sustainability sector prioritizing personal and environmental health through a mix of clean energy sources and environmental design. Specifically, I hope to initiate change from within companies that are considered Canada’s greatest polluters such as fast food chains, livestock farming, and the oil and gas industry. I plan to pursue my aptitude in analytics and focus on long term impactful strategy to ensure that the practices and lifestyle at my company is beneficial not only to shareholders, but to employees and the global health.
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
In 2017, I travelled to Kolkata, India, home to one of the lowest standards of living in the world. Upon my return home, I noticed similar disparities surrounding homelessness within my own city of Toronto. This challenge sparked conversation, and my sisters and I brainstormed solutions which led us to cofound a charity called ‘Essential for the Homeless’. My education in social science has truly allowed me to analyze the negligence in our systems, as well as the effects of corporate waste on our society. Paired with my passion for sustainability, I was able to create a charity that aims to support Toronto's most vulnerable people with basic necessities by redistributing corporate excess to those who could really use it. Our team has procured over 300 care packages and over 40 boxes of item donations, comprising $8000 in valuable item donations for in need shelters across Toronto. This included goods that would typically go to landfills from key corporations such as Cliff Bars, Lush Cosmetics, Cetaphil, Canadian Custom Apparel and Value Village. I learned that even though your work may seem small, it can still make a difference; trying to make a small change is better than no change at all.