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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Natalya Whitla

Hoping to pursue a dual degree with Integrated Engineering, I display a desire to have a diverse background so as to learn how to approach problems from diverse perspectives. As global problems like climate change and resource depletion, are becoming more complex, finding multi-faceted solutions are essential and I embrace that in my education.  

I am an executive on the Engineers without Borders chapter. With a passion for increasing the number of women in STEM, I am a mentor for multiple outreach programs. Also, I had the opportunity to do some pro-bono consulting to the Sick Kids Foundation. 

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Generally, sustainability is performing activities to maintain the level of resources and avoid depletion. To me, it really is about not taking more from a system that you put into it; it’s about more than just the environment and should consider the impact of actions throughout their lifecycle (planning, use and post-use (disposal)).  For this reason, I really think sustainability is about empowering people and their ideas. They end up being responsible for lifting their communities up and creating processes that can be operated independently, applicable to the environment, to the economy or even social relationships. 

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

The world is changing; realistically, everyone’s career will become progressively more impacted by sustainability. Therefore, I believe it is naïve to assume that any career will not be influenced by it.  

Beyond Ivey, I’d like to initially pursue a career in consulting, probably in management, operations or strategy. However, once I developed my professional skills and gain experience across many industries, I want to shift my focus to environmental consulting. Following the macro economic trends, sustainability reports will become more standardized and consumers will continually favour more environmental products with sustainable sources. Therefore, the demand from companies of any size for environmental consulting services will only grow.  

Due to my passion for sustainability, it will remain a major part of my life regardless of my path. I’ve even considered an entrepreneurial venture to develop a way to make it easy for consumers to compare the environmental friendliness of a product based on its materials, the impact of its lifecycle and the practices of the company that creates it. 

Overall, my future will require a background developing a mindset to look at business from a sustainable lens, a skill, among others, I want to gain by pursuing the sustainability certificate.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

Most notably, I was chosen as the Western University’s Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Junior Fellow to complete an internship in Uganda for the summer of 2020. I worked virtually as the Fundraising Associate for Ensibuuko Technologies Ltd., a fintech start-up in Uganda. They work to provide financial services to the unbanked population of Uganda. My responsibilities included leading a website re-brand (https://ensibuuko.com/) and completing grant applications, one successful in securing 330,000 USD. This made Ensibuuko able to provide their services into more rural communities. This experience is what showed me that sustainability is about teaching people to change their practices and empowering them. 

EWB is all about sustainable development. Last year, I was the Partnerships Director an organized and secured donations for the first-ever Sustainable Beer Tasting event. 

This year, my role is Sustainability Director where I work with the portfolio directors of climate change, fair trade and sustainable food systems on the ideation, planning and execution of their events and campaigns. While I have worked on a multitude, one project in particular I currently am working on is assigning sustainability scores to all of our campaigns and events. 

Natalya Whitla

Natalya  Whitla