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As a storyteller I have spent most of my life listening to other people and trying to understand their perspectives. It has taught me a great deal about empathy and how different perspectives are necessary to further our understanding of difficult, unanswerable questions. I think this is also why I care so much about sustainability. Like storytelling, it is about passing something down, using my own labour to enrich and improve and sustain. Whether it’s through volunteering, my career, or art, I hope to contribute to equitable international development and societal sustainability with my own unique perspectives! 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?  

My definition of sustainability is leaving things better off—making sure that those who come after you are may enjoy and partake in more opportunities than you were able to. It also means understanding the demands of current society and being able to satisfy these demands. This is most clear in an environmental context, but I believe sustainability extends into the social and economic realm: environmental impacts, for example have disproportionate effects on marginalized communities. These complex problems are all inextricably linked and require a complex definition of sustainability to even begin the task of addressing them.  

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

I see sustainability as a constant throughout my professional career, present in any role I take on in my future. As someone interested in consulting, marketing, and design, understanding business decision’s impacts on people is necessary to make decisions that don’t leave people behind. In consulting, I see myself working with organizations to develop and implement impactful yet cost-effective strategies, as well as how to communicate these strategies to stakeholders. In marketing, I hope to create campaigns that keep corporations more transparent and accountable in their business endeavours. In design, I hope to bring a people-oriented perspective when it comes to engineering more effective and accessible solutions, particularly in the tech space.   

I am particularly interested in and frustrated by barriers in society that prevent people from accessing opportunity, and I see my career propelling myself to learn more about those barriers and how to dismantle them. As a writer and artist, I hope to be very involved in using poetry and illustrations as a vehicle to raise awareness and prompt discussion on sustainability in my local communities. I believe the Sustainability Certificate will equip me to better impact lasting positive social change in my present and future communities.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

YOLK: I interned at a solar energy startup in South Korea, helping them raise awareness about their Solar Cow Project, an effort to use solar energy to bring children to school and provide affordable electricity for families in off-grid areas in developing countries. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book about the Solar Cow currently in discussion for distribution in Korea. 

Ivey Social Impact Club (SIC): As the creative director for 2021’s Social Impact conference, I created and implemented the branding and marketing campaign for the conference, as well as created an artistic summary of the conference’s highlights. As part of SIC’s Social Enterprise program, I participate in a consulting project for a local London PPE supplier, helping them with research and marketing strategy.  

AIESEC: I was on AIESEC for 2 years and served as the head of Business to Customer. My portfolio raised awareness about international SDG related opportunities created with the purpose of fostering cross-cultural understanding. 

Watch Your Head: I am a poetry contributor to both the web and print (Coach House Books) anthologies of Watch Your Head, a collection of writing and art calling for climate justice. All proceeds are donated to RAVEN and Climate Justice Toronto.

Jessica Le

Jessica Le