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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Alex Lee

My passion for sustainability and helping others mainly came from my parents, as they always emphasized giving to other when we could. We are not the most well off, but there are people in worse situations than us. From this, I have tried to be involved with charity related clubs and extra-curriculars and have done so starting from Red-Cross in elementary school to UNICEF in High school. My interest in societal issues and the reasons behind inequality lead me to studying Sociology for my first two years of undergrad which truly opened my eyes to the inequality in our society. 

 What is your personal definition of sustainability?

I would define sustainability as using our planet and it’s resources at a rate that will not completely deplete them. As our society has become so profit focused it is very easy to forget about the environment, society as a whole and the local community. Sustainability focuses on maintaining these resources and to ensure future generations will still be fine. I think sustainability needs to be a focus or goal of any firm that I would choose to work for.  

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

I think that any firm that I work for will need to consider sustainability. I understand that not every business is a NFP or a Social-Enterprise, but I want to ensure that the company I choose to devote my energy to work for has similar values to me. I dislike many larger corporations, as they tend to be extremely focused on the profit and the bottom line. If I were to work for a larger company, I would hope that they at least had some initiatives dedicating to supporting the community, society or environment. If they did not, I would hope to be able to make some impact and implement some form of sustainability. 

At my Yellow-Brick-House summer internship, they were a very sustainable organization that were not just focused on their direct NFP cause of violence against women. The office was located in a financial area of Richmond-Hill, which meant they did not have recycling services from the city the same way that residential areas did in the same city. One of my co-workers explained how she had advocated for private recycling, so Yellow-Brick-House started paying for private recycling. I hope to make similar impacts in my career. 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

As mentioned earlier, my main passions have to do with inequality and societal problems. My earliest involvements came in elementary school, where I was on the Recycling Team where we collected recycling every Tuesday. I was also part of Red-Cross where we ran small fundraisers through bake sales. That’s where I started with sustainability, but I continued focusing on sustainability in high school by joining UNICEF. I also helped run bake sales like I did in elementary school, but I also looked more into the issues that UNICEF supported and was at living conditions of children from other parts of the world. My interest lead me to Law class, where we had a unit talking about Human Rights, and I did extremely well on the project. 

I continued with my studies of inequality in university as I did sociology, and I also joined the Sociology-Students-Association, where I worked my way up from a 1st year delegate to VP Finance. In my 2nd year, we managed to raise $180 which I thought was a significant amount for a smaller club. I have also gone to the Ivey Sustainability conference 2 years in a row and am a part of the club.

Alex Lee

Alex Lee