Skip to Main Content
Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Sonya Zhang

Hi there! My name's Sonya and I'm an HBA 2022 candidate at Ivey Business School. 

I spent my first two years in Urban Development, where I studied how to make the communities we live in more sustainable and liveable. Outside of school, I am passionate about technology, entrepreneurship, and sustainable finance. Specifically, working with grassroots non-profits both locally and globally, and being entrepreneurial myself, has convinced me of the power that an impact-driven mindset can have in both the public and private sector. 

What is your personal definition of sustainability? 

Social impact is any action or inaction that has a positive net impact on the planet and those who live on it.  

First, it is often associated with a call to action; such as consuming more eco-friendly products. However, this is all still tied to increasing consumption on a planet with finite resources. This is why the other half of the definition, inaction, is more interesting to me. Often, the best thing we can do is to stop doing things. 

Next, a positive net impact is enough for me. As any single stakeholder cannot fix systemic problems, I believe that it is impossible for any action or inaction to have a purely positive impact.  

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

 For context, every job I have had to date has had a specific focus on social impact. However, I don’t see myself directly working in the social impact space until later on in my career. In my early 20s, I would love to work in corporate strategy or management consulting, before getting an MPA or Masters in Sustainability. In order to maximize the impact I can create in my career, I believe that I have a lot more to learn in the corporate space and academia. Specifically, I’d love to work in public sector consulting and strategy, and real estate development.  

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

On-Campus Engagements: 

  1. LEADER Project-Curriculum Committee : Incoming Curriculum Lead for Ivey’s international engagement program. Thus far, I have developed a curriculum based on the case method to be delivered virtually to entrepreneurs in eight partner sites in developing countries.   
  1. London Social Value Fund - Associate: Assisted in the full cycle of operations of Ontario’s first youth-led sustainable finance association from capital raise, to deal flow, to marketing.  
  1. Ivey Community Consulting Project: Led team of 3 in structuring an investment strategy and impact measurement framework to maximize ROI and social impact over the course of a 15 year strategic vision for an endowment totalling $500 million. 
  1. Competitions: Global Challenge Finalist, Map the System Finalist 

Work Experience:  

  1. Small Economy Works - Operations Intern: Audited Northern communities to identify suitable locations for Aurora College’s digital entrepreneurship course by leading 40+ partner interviews and using ArcGIS data visualization to identify towns with viable social and physical infrastructure; gaining the support of three Indigenous communities. 
  1. MabelleArts: Led team of 12 employees in a low-income community by hosting 60 art workshops for the youth and elderly. Also spearheaded marketing strategy of a National Community Arts Project, coordinating with media outlets including the  CBC, the Aga Khan Foundation, and the Guardian. Resulted in 600 attendees.  

Sonya Zhang

Sonya  Zhang