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Ever since I was a kid I have loved being outdoors. My favorite thing to do is go on three-hour-long bike rides and curl up with a good book by the creek near my house. My love for the outdoors, as well as animals, has prompted an interest in sustainability which has defined my life. From starting a gardening club in elementary school to co-founding an edible spoon company in high school, and becoming a vegan in university, I have never been able to escape being called a “hippie” by my friends. 


What is your personal definition of sustainability? 


In my opinion, sustainability defines efforts which if sustained, promote the longevity of our planet and its people in the long-term. This includes environmental protection, but also economic and political efforts that uplift the marginalized and oppressed. For example, hyper-capitalist measures that increase an already widening wealth gap are not sustainable in the long run. Fascist or divisive ideologies are not conducive to the peaceful coexistence of cultures in an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. Sustainability should support all stakeholders to promote the coexistence and prosperity of all people, plants and animals. 


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


I hope to learn more about how I can promote sustainability while pursuing a business career through this certificate program. While I do not have a concrete career goal set in mind, sustainability is important to me, and I believe it is possible to incorporate this in whatever path I decide to head down.  


For example, accountants must take sustainability goals into account in corporate financial reporting and when quantifying societal impact for annual reports. Additionally, consultants must examine the impact of proposed recommendations on secondary or tertiary stakeholders such as the community or environment. Such stakeholders hold more importance now than ever before. 


In the long-run, I aim to bring sustainable thinking to develop new projects or aid existing ones in corporate organizations. Alternatively, I am interested in social entrepreneurship and can see myself either joining a social enterprise or getting involved in social impact investing. 


What sustainability projects have you been engaged in? 


In addition to my personal lifestyle which includes eating a vegan diet, I have been involved in a number of sustainability-focused projects. For example, as part of Enactus Western, I ideate and support the operations of student-owned nonprofits and social enterprises. One of my initiatives, the “Entrepreneurship Bootcamp” created five projects which support environmental sustainability, refugee education, and human rights. To name one- “E-cycle” is a nonprofit which recycles and donates used electronics to those in need. Aside from Enactus, I have been involved in community consulting projects such as Western Management Club, where I worked with five others to advise small local business L.A Mood Comics and Games. Outside of school, I have volunteered and worked for the Mississauga-Malton Rotary Club, where I helped design and facilitate community programs such as a STEM program for low-income youth, and Girls Who Code chapter. Other projects I have been involved in include the Brampton Multicultural Youth Council, and my business Candy Cutlery, which sold edible candy spoons to dessert shops in lieu of plastic ones. 

Sheetal Vemannagari

Sheetal  Vemannagari