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I love working with people in pursuit of a meaningful goal. My interest in sustainability and pursuing a career in the sustainability and social impact space stems from what I have identified as my purpose. Through lots of thoughtful considerations about what I want my future career to look like, I have come to the realization that I want the output of my work to go beyond myself or the organization that I may be working for. Ultimately, I want my work, through my career, to truly be impactful whether that be in a socially or environmentally beneficial way.  

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability is innovating to address negative reoccurring environmental or social issues that humans are causing and facing today. I believe sustainability, in a business context, means intentionally providing products or services that focus on reducing our environmental footprint and eliminating social barriers that humans have been prone to producing. When businesses are not built on the principles of sustainability, I believe it is important for these businesses to still integrate sustainable practices in their operations and/or strategy. This is becoming increasingly common as the line between for-profit and non-profit companies blurs and more social enterprises emerge.  

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

Sustainability will play a large role in my professional career as I want to pursue careers in the social impact and sustainability space. My hope for the future is that I will be working for a company or starting my own venture that will be focused on addressing an environmental or social issue of great importance. As I am aware that the sustainability/social impact space is a little more challenging than traditional fields to break into, I am still determined to integrate sustainability into my early career years as I most likely will be in less impactful entry-level roles. These roles may seem less impactful in organizations, but I will remain confident that what I am doing is impactful in its own way to contributing towards the mission of the social enterprise or non-profit that I may be working for. With this in mind, sustainability will drive my professional career and play an immensely important role as it is where I see my purpose being fulfilled. Ultimately, sustainability will be a central focus of my professional career and my passion of using the power of business for good will remain at the core of my identity throughout my career.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

Through my HBA1 year thus far I have had the privilege to be the VP Ivey Connects for Section 8 as well as a research analyst for Monest - a start-up social enterprise that focuses on educating consumers on brands they buy from. In my Ivey Connects role, I have worked closely with the Children’s Health Foundation (CHF) in London, Ontario to see how our section can assist them throughout the year. Funds were the main area in which CHF sought our assistance and through various fundraising initiatives I have facilitated, we have been able to raise over $1,000 so far. Additionally, my work for Monest as a research analyst entails completing weekly research assignments on major apparel brands’ waste and pollution, which has allowed me to learn a lot more about sustainability reports and corporate social responsibility reports. My research is focused on evaluating and scoring companies on waste and pollution metrics such as if they disclose GHG emissions data and if they have specific time-bound goals to lowering their energy use. To find such information, reading lengthy sustainability reports is necessary and it has made me much more well-versed in navigating such reports.  


James Yeretsian

James  Yeretsian