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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Aaron Hirshberg

My family is from Cape Town South Africa. With nature and wildlife at the forefront of South African culture, my childhood was always surrounded by oceans, animal life, and safaris. I have always had a passion for music, starting with piano at the age of 7 to currently producing for artists a Warner Music. Professionally, I caught the entrepreneurship bug at a very young age, allowing me to put into practice relationship management, how to effectively lead a team, and problem-solving. I look forward to building my portfolio of knowledge in the legal and business field.  

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability is understanding the need for compromise so that all parties benefit. Take negotiations for example, many feel that there are a winner and a loser. If this is the case, then upon implementation, the lack of a symbiotic relationship will ultimately deem the two party's relationship's a failure. For so long, this has been the connection between people and the environment. People, the winner, and the environment, the looser. Personally, business is about relationship management, whether it is between supply and demand, boss and employees, or corporation and customer. Sustainability is the notion of abandoning the winner and loser mindset in the "negotiation" between people and the planet.  

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

My grandfather in South Africa took over his father’s school uniform manufacturing company in the mid-1900s. Previously, the overall manufacturing activities in this field were notorious for unethical labour practices and a blatant disregard for the environmental impact of operations. Upon Cape Town’s overall shift to environmental impact, I witnessed first hand the role of a CEO and his initiatives to completely revamp his company to achieve an environmentally friendly standard in manufacturing and ethical labour practices in a country that is known for falling victim to unethical labour sourcing. Seeing the aftereffects of this implementation plan proved the importance of corporations combining purpose and profit. More recently, in my personal investment activities, I have shifted a considerable portion of my portfolio to global impact investment funds and have personally seen the return on investment. Professionally, I look to combining my interest in the legal and financial field to do my part. Currently, I am in the application process for a summer internship as an impact investor analyst. Through the sustainability certificate module and the summer internship opportunity, I hope to further my skills and knowledge to one day be a successful candidate in the sustainability financial industry. 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

I acknowledge that my personal involvement in sustainability projects is quite limited, as my interest in the subject only occurred recently. However, after returning from an eye-opening experience on a trip in South Africa and faced with the feasibility project in BUS 2257, my team and I decided to create a Teflon-infused business wear product to curb waste. The product, which was ethically sourced, was stain-proof, saving significant amounts of energy and waste due to minimized need for washing and drying. Our preliminary research calculated a significant reduction in washes per year from regular shirts vs our product. After pitching the product to my grandfather's company in South Africa, we designed and built a prototype based on his existing certificate of a proudly South African company (requires manufacturers to abide by strict labour and environmentally friendly practices). With a successful design and considerable back and forth, the factory's school uniform division decided to utilize the same technology on all their school uniform orders in the future. This was one of my first experiences in a sustainability project. Moving forward, I am excited to continue to work and learn through other projects

Aaron Hirshberg

Aaron Hirshberg