Hi! I’m Ryan and I’m currently in HBA1 with a hope of doing the combined HBA/JD program. Coming from an economics background, I learned about maximizing social utility, where institutions often try to appease their biggest financial supporters at the expense of everyone else. This really struck a chord for me because I realized that sustainability in business won’t be fully realized until social utility principles change, too. I want to be part of this change that will help to minimize the negative impacts that large businesses have on their workers, the environment, and society, and create a more livable world for everyone!
What is your personal definition of sustainability?
To me, sustainability means for everyone to have access to resources that can help them to succeed in their own unique way. I was lucky enough to grow up in a very supportive family, where I didn’t have to worry about financial stability, but I know that this isn’t always the case. So many kids aren’t allowed to achieve their full potentials because of financial and social barriers, but I know that if we try, we can start to chip away at this inequality to give everyone the chance to be their full selves.
What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?
The social impact space is one in which I want to eventually end up; specifically, I want to be involved with the development of the impact investing space. Finance has always been an area of interest for me, particularly investment, because of the ability to help others achieve their financial goals. So many people I know have had their dreams altered because of how their finances were managed, which has really driven me towards wanting to help others fare better! But the finance sphere itself is a step below where I want to be; I also strive to be in a place where I can help people make decisions that increase long-term social benefit and sustainability efforts.
So that’s where impact investing enters in! I see it as the perfect blend of the finance sphere and being able to help companies make positive social and environmental change. I love how new it is too; it would be a great space to grow into and work alongside so many other sustainability-focused, passionate individuals in the financial industry. Overall, even if this isn’t the space in which I start my career, I hope I can take a sustainability lens into whatever job I work.
What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?
In 2019, I worked with the City of London and the Thames Valley Children’s Centre to create a swim program called the Jumping Jellyfish! For this project, I was tasked with making swimming more accessible for children with developmental disabilities. Through parent-and-tot-style teaching, I worked to see how the kids would react to different stimulus in the pool and what worked best for them. In what was the cutest 10-week research project, I created implementation strategies for the city to use in future Jumping Jellyfish classes that are now being used across London and in YMCAs across Ontario!
Another project I was involved in was with Mediators Beyond Borders International, a consulting firm focused on mitigating peacebuilding and mitigating political conflict. Working with clients, I noticed a general interest in learning about police brutality around the time that the Black Lives Matter movement took place. From that, I worked with a team and organizations such as Police2Peace to create a conference on police brutality and peaceful protests; an informational seminar dedicated to showing what was happening and how police could minimize their negative impacts.
These two projects were so fulfilling; they both showed just how great it can be to help others get a step closer to where they want to be. It was amazing to be involved in these projects and I can’t wait to make a similar social impact in my career!