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Jessica is a seasoned clothing thrifter who loves hiking and camping in nature. Coming from an English Literature background, Jessica loves participating in book exchanges and learning about how businesses can creatively operate and compete. You can find Jessica playing board games with friends, reading in coffee shops, and playing the violin in a Western string quartet. Jessica is passionate about educational reform and meaningful business sustainability practices. She is excited to meet like-minded students through the Impact Assessment course, and connect with local community members actively making sustainable change within London.  

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability can be represented by passing on your old pair of jeans to your younger sibling or opting to use your own reusable straw in a coffee shop. It stems from an individual’s daily choices and these small actions ultimately demonstrate commitment to sustainability. Whereas these actions are deemed insignificant to many, I believe that sustainability is a very humane concept that requires genuine intention. The intention component is what differentiates and makes sustainability complex - as opposed to using reusable straws because they are trendy, sustainability is about committing to the environment and making that decision with no alternative intentions.  

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

Acknowledging that consumers, and subsequently businesses, are becoming increasingly engaged in conversations surrounding Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and sustainability commitments, this means that regardless of any career path, sustainability will play a crucial role. As learned from courses and speaker sessions, companies are starting to make decisions not solely on the basis of shareholder financial value, but in regards to business and societal longevity. Furthermore, I am extremely impact-driven and I plan to pursue a career in which my direct decisions will impact the sustainability efforts of the corporation. My dream would be to get involved with Patagonia to help them move forward their mission of environmental business practices. Regardless of the company that I work at, I hope to bridge my interests in English Literature through helping to publish white papers surrounding the topic of sustainability. Another interest of mine has been education policy and I hope to spend my spare time attending schools to advocate for careers that adopt a sustainable-first approach.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

As a huge case competition enthusiast and studying English Literature before Ivey, I have participated in several competitions and published essays on the subject matter of sustainability. For instance, two case competitions that I competed in involved helping a hotel chain in Thailand improve its sustainability initiatives and creating a new company that satisfied ESG components. In each case, the end solution was very different as for the Thailand hotel, we pitched a personal assistant bot to address environmental sustainability, and for the new venture, we pitched a workplace mental health extension to target social sustainability and governance. I also wrote an essay on the authenticity of sustainability in Fiji Water’s marketing campaigns. From the various experiences, I learned that sustainability is multifaceted and there’s so much to explore within it.

Jessica Shao

Jessica Shao