My name is Julia, and I am hoping to pursue a dual degree with kinesiology. In the past I have been fortunate enough to engage in social impact both locally through volunteering and globally through a service-trip to Africa. My long-term goal is to combine my interests in business and healthcare and passion for making a difference, to get involved in social impact work within these spaces. My hobbies include playing hockey, volunteering, and travelling. Extremely excited for the opportunities this certificate offers to learn about sustainability and meet other students and leaders who share the same passion!
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
Sustainability involves allocating available resources (social, physical, and natural) in a way that does not threaten the wellbeing of future generations. Sustainability requires accountability, planning, and foresight.
The concept of sustainability highlights the interconnectedness of different aspects of society, including social, economic, and environmental considerations. Without sustainable measures imbedded into the foundation of society, short-term trade-offs result in waste and negative by-products. Conversely, sustainable choices and investments amplify positive influences. Overall, the challenge is to engage in authentic sustainability which requires a holistic view of how an organization, or an individual contributes negatively or positively to the environment.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
The COVID-19 pandemic stimulated change in corporate attitudes towards sustainability. Leaders are recognizing that companies who integrated sustainability into their business models prior to the pandemic are more resilient and agile in responding to these unprecedented times. Currently, we see a shift as leaders are encouraged to broaden their company goals outside of profitability to include their broader contributions to society, including sustainability.
As society increases its expectations of corporate responsibility, and transparency increases, companies are recognizing a need to act on sustainability. When selecting a future employer, it is important to me that the company is committed to social impact, has strong community involvement, and has transparent sustainability measures. It is important that the company sets targets and implements initiatives, recognizing that sustainability is a long-term change in strategy that must be consistently updated.
Overall, I believe having a sustainable mindset is necessary for any career. There is an opportunity in every sector to make actionable steps and decisions that reduce a business’ negative impact on the future environment, society, and economy. I am optimistic about the future because society is making considerable efforts to understand and implement sustainable choices that benefits short-term and long-term goals.
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
In May 2019, I travelled to the Maasai Mara in Kenya on an eight-day service trip with a non-profit organization focused on sustainability and giving back. During my time in the Mara, I visited local schools and learnt about the evolution of their education system, meet with locals in a leadership development workshop, and learnt about traditional Maasai culture. Additionally, I had an opportunity to take part in a sustainable development project building a teacher’s residence close to the campus. These projects are co-created sustainable solutions that work directly with the communities to address one of five main pillars: education, water, health, food security, and opportunity. Through this experience I learned about sustainability around the world and directly contributed to it in a unique and empowering way.
My passion for healthcare is why I am interested in getting involved in a future sustainable health project similar to Unity Health Toronto’s 2019 “seeing green” initiative. The healthcare industry requires significant attention due to its reciprocal relationship with society and its resources. This initiative adopted an incremental approach to reduce the environmental impact of hospitals in Toronto. Approaches like this must be implemented in a widespread manner to collectively work towards sustainability.