Skip to Main Content
Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Annabella Gessen

 am a dedicated, creative, and thoughtful student and future leader. Prior to my studies at Ivey, I started at Western as a sociology major with the intention of pursuing criminological studies. Sociology opened my eyes to a large plurality of corporate social injustices, namely, inequitable labour practices, modern-age imperialism, and environmental destruction, occurring around the world due to unsustainable business processes. This has fueled my passion in pursuing business studies as I am hoping to gain the tools and business acumen to implement sustainable practices in my future endeavours as we enter the age of corporate social justice.  

 

What is your personal definition of sustainability

 

To me, sustainability is about thinking about the future. It is not about short-term decisions but the long-term impacts that can be realized through these decisions. I do not believe that sustainability is only about the environment, it is about the overall well-being of humans. It’s the idea that we are able to meet our own needs without compromising the ability of others to meet theirs. In a world riddled with greed, sustainability entails thoughtfulness of the “other”, recognizing the symbiotic relationship between your decisions and your surroundingsand evaluating your decisions against the greater impacts that they have.  

 

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career

 

When thinking about applying for the Sustainability Certificate at Ivey, I was met with backlash from some family members who believe that “money does not lie in sustainability”, they were strong in their opinion that sustainability and business do not easily align and therefore I could not have both a “successful” career in business while also being sustainably oriented. Rooted in archaic business ideals, their words proved to me that while many businesses are pivoting to establish more sustainable practices, there is still much work to be done as many still believe that businesses must trade-off sustainability for the “greater good” of profitability.  

 

As mentioned earlier, I believe that we are entering the age of corporate social justice and I want to be a part of itFor decades, businesses have prioritized profits over people, gaining value from exploiting valuable environmental and human resourcesAs businesses start to realize the unacceptable nature of their practices, I want to drive the change towards sustainability, especially in large CPG companies where I hope to find full-time work in the near future. Regardless of my future career, Iexcited to prove that there is room for sustainability in every aspect of business.  

 

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in

 

My journey towards sustainability started in high school when I took a class called Challenge and Change in Society, geared towards deepening our understanding, through research, of how powerful institutions such as businesses and the government contribute to social injustices. This course inspired me to look for more ways in which I could make a positive sustainable impact in a global context. One of the most touching experiences I had was during a volunteer service trip to the Dominican Republic. My group was tasked with picking up waste from the shoreline of a small village near Puerto Plata. When we arrived at the cleanup site, shock was an understatement. The shoreline was riddled with tons of mostly plastic waste, you could not see the sand and there were waves of garbage flowing in and out of the beach. I had never truly realized the impact of consumerism until that first day. This experience taught me that often, first-world consumers are not aware of issues like these because they do not experience them firsthand. This opportunity helped shape my passion for sustainability, I am excited to continue exploring these issues both in school and within my community.  

Annabella Gessen

Annabella Gessen