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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Elena Dimitrov

Coming from a finance background, much of my education focused narrowly on measuring success through profits. As the world transitions to a clean economy and sustainability come to the forefront, I’m interested in exploring how companies can add purpose to performance. My core interest lies in environmental change. I’ve had exposure to environmental governance issues since I was young – my father being a key negotiator at UN climate change conferences. Now, I am passionate about figuring out how businesses can contribute to the world’s climate goals. I spend my free time reading (The Power of Now and The Intelligent Investor among my favorites), cooking and learning new languages (currently trilingual, going on four).  

What is your personal definition of sustainability? 

I cannot say that I have always had an innate personal calling to do good in the world. To me, prioritizing sustainability in business it not a choice, but an inevitability as the world moves toward a clean economy. Engaging in projects that are not limited by the bounds of the environment and society is a necessity to fuel economic growth. Any business that fails to make this shift will be left behind. Sustainability means shifting to systems that do not deplete the world’s resources, but rather capitalizes on those that are overlooked: Clean energy, female leadership, and the power of education, among others. To this, I would add that sustainability means accountability to future generations; leaving the world better than we found it.  

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

Business can be an incredible force for good in the world, but sustainability has historically been overlooked as traditional measures of performance focus on profit more than purpose. Even accounting standards are being modified to better reflect the multitude of ways that a company’s activities impact the world, ‘triple bottom line’ philosophy gaining acceptance. As a student pursuing executive compensation consulting through my summer internship, my interest lies in exploring ways for organizations to integrate ESG metrics in incentive plans (e.g. companies like Shell tying executive compensation to carbon footprint goals, or Starbucks linking executive pay to workforce diversity targets).  

Long-term, I see myself shifting my focus towards sustainability consulting with an environmental focus. My goal is to see sustainability applied across all organizations regardless of size and industry, and for companies’ efforts in sustainable innovation to be reported and rewarded the same way that profits are. No business large or small is exempt from the limits of the environment, so sustainability will play a role in the career anyone involved in business.   

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

In my time at Ivey, I have had the incredible chance to connect with students who share an interest in social impact and sustainability, each in their own way. I have been involved in pro-bono consulting through Ivey’s Social Enterprise Advisory program, helping a London-based social enterprise called CY Health develop sustainable PPE solutions for the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with several other Ivey students, we helped the start-up reach more customers and explore the feasibility of a PPE recycling program to reduce the waste caused by large volumes of single-use PPE. This was done through primary and secondary market research, reaching out to local healthcare providers, developing sales & marketing materials and meeting with the founders weekly to understand their goals.  

Through Ivey’s Social Impact Conference, I have learned from experts in the fields of impact investing and social entrepreneurship, reinforcing my interest in how sustainability can be integrated in business. Outside of school, I strive to combine my interest in personal finance and sustainability by investing in sustainability index funds and companies with environmental missions, such as Tesla.   

Elena Dimitrov

Elena Dimitrov