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Before starting at Western University, I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to travel. I spent time in Guatemala, Greece, Belize, China, and the Bahamas throughout my childhood. I never stayed in resorts; my family chose to adopt local lifestyles to immerse ourselves in the culture. Through these experiences, I learned how fortunate I was to live in Canada and how wasteful we are. I hope to apply my dual degree education in engineering and business to provide a sustainable future to everyone worldwide.  

What is your personal definition of sustainability?  

When I think of sustainability, I imagine the world benefitting, but at no one’s expense. From the day we are born, we grow up competing in everything from board games to who gets the last parking spot. These everyday activities are examples of how society normalizes zero-sum situations; we learn that we must win at someone’s expense. What if we all acted in such a way where we could all benefit? Not just in the present but the future also. Therefore, I think of sustainability as an elevated state of conscientiousness that revolves around empathy leading to mutual success.  

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

I see sustainability as being a way of life or mindset, as opposed to a role. Defining sustainability as a ‘role’ limits sustainable thinking to situations where one must be acting in the said role. Approaching sustainability as a mindset means it will be with you everywhere; when you interact with people and pursue corporate initiatives.  

I will communicate with sustainability with my colleagues when I am older by encouraging everyone to contribute. I will cherish every word that they say. Applying sustainability to intangible aspects of life, like a conversation, will add value to the workplace. By communicating with an elevated state of conscientiousness that revolves around empathy leading to mutual success, people around me will feel included and compelled to contribute.  

I will act with sustainability as a leader by not approaching corporate initiatives as wasteful zero-sum games to gain competitive edges over others. Instead, I will work with an elevated state of conscientiousness that revolves around empathy leading to mutual success and focus on spending energy developing symbiotic relationships that produce meaningful outputs.    

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 

For the past two summers, I worked part-time in addition to my day job at a construction company specializing in eavestrough and siding. At the end of a job, workers returned to the shop with truckloads of scrap material pulled off houses, cardboard boxes, plastic bottles, and lumber. Once the workers dumped the materials, it was my job to go through and sort everything. I would have to spend hours cutting aluminum to be put into a bailer, carrying heavy steel to its container, sorting through metal to find plastic water bottles consumed on the job, and taking nails out of wood. But it was all worth it; every bit of material still had value. You just had to be creative. The shop utilized a geothermal heating system, so all the wood collected from jobs is economical for heating the facility. The metals are securely stored and resold to companies to be re-worked and used in other products. All the plastics and cardboard are also recycled. This job changed my whole perspective on sustainability. I don’t see waste anymore, only opportunities.  

Kyle Madden

Kyle  Madden