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Centre for Building Sustainable Value

Ivey students host conference on the importance of data in social and environmental justice

  • Tosin Ojulari, Aderimike Lala & Talissa Watson
  • |
  • Apr 23, 2021
Ivey students host conference on the importance of data in social and environmental justice

Tosin, Aderimike and Talissa are MSc students on the Ivey Pro Bono Analytics Club Executive Team.

Last month, the Ivey Pro Bono Analytics Club held its inaugural Analytics in Social Enterprise Conference. The event focused on the importance of data analysis in promoting social and environmental justice within our global community and aimed to inspire students by connecting them with leaders who have pioneered the incorporation of social enterprise and data strategy within their organizational missions.

The club was joined by professionals from diverse industries who made the conscious decision to leverage their knowledge to improve industry-wide diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and accessibility to education and data-driven consulting services. With an emphasis on hands-on learning and real-world solutions, the conference provided transferable skills in data literacy and enhanced the attendees’ knowledge of opportunities within the social impact space. PBAC collaborated with Professor Stephan Vachon to design a case that allowed students to develop innovative recommendations for small enterprises and municipalities about improving their waste management capabilities.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the rapidly unfolding climate crises, it is refreshing to see how students, the leaders of tomorrow, are capable of tackling these grand challenges with ingenuity and rigor. Their watchword is order and their beacon is beauty.” - Jury Gualandris, Ivey Professor and competition judge

Keynote speakers

The event had keynote speakers Ian Gilmour, Associate Partner at KPMG; Arthur Amadi, Founder of Youth in Diaspora; and Efe Ogolo, lead data scientist at HelloFresh and Pro Bono Analyst of Youth in Diaspora.

During his speech, Ian Gilmour, the global lead for KPMG’s Enterprise Architecture spoke on how he utilized data analysis and creative logistics to provide food-relief initiatives for children and their families suffering from increasing food insecurity.

He emphasized the importance for non-profit organizations to catch up with trends of digital transformation. With the disruption of the business ecosystem, companies have adopted digital technology to transform their services and drive growth; however, non-profit organizations have been unable to catch up, leading to a digital divide. The conditions of COVID-19 further emphasized that non-profits are not equipped with the IT and analytical infrastructure to be in a virtual environment-especially when it came to providing services to their constituents. He invited the attendees to reflect on how this dynamic landscape has evolved in recent years and encouraged them to envision how their unique perspectives can make a lasting mark in the future.

Arthur Amadi and Efe Ogolo spoke on how serving others can provide the greatest sense of fulfillment. They emphasized that solely seeking self-fulfillment through self-betterment and personal achievements can sometimes leave you empty and that the ultimate aim should be to use our skills to help others. They shared how they use analytical skills and techniques to help with the education initiative for people of African descent and the Makoko floating community in Nigeria. They highlighted the importance of a comprehensive data strategy to scale up social and environmental impact. As non-profit organizations grow to promote social and environmental justice within the global community, it is imperative to develop a competitive, sustainable, and data-driven strategy. They also shared how students need not confine themselves to boundaries of career vs non-profit work. You can love your job in the private sector and utilize your skills for charity!

Fireside chat

The fireside chat was made up of individuals representing companies with social impact programs related to data analysis and technology. The speakers included:

Though all speakers were from different fields and had utilized data in diverse ways they shared a common interest in making a positive impact on their community. The speakers had observed the growing void in the use of analytics for non-profit organizations. AAARL utilizes its specialized skillset to measure, analyze and optimize the activities of non-profit organizations. In his current role as the principal of The Urban Hulk, Jean-Francois shared his journey to influence policymakers and urban planners to consider the most vulnerable in decision making processes. Diversio recognizes that data-driven insights are key to diversity and inclusion. To create a world where no one feels excluded, data analytics and artificial intelligence are crucial to diagnosing pain points within organizations and creating action plans that make a difference.

Tima Bansal moderated the fireside chat:

"The PBAC organizing team ran a fabulous event that was dynamic and engaging. They brought speakers to the table who had fantastic experience in using data analytics for social good." - Tima Bansal, Ivey Professor

Ian Gilmour, keynote from earlier in the day stayed on to learn from the fireside chat:

“The PBAC team invited me to share my story of a digital transformation that combatted food insecurity while school meal programs were closed during COVID-19. I stayed to hear great stories from social entrepreneurs who are meeting critical social and sustainable issues. My keynote was supposed to motivate participate. I ended up inspired myself by a passionate, curious, and insightful group of students who are seeking innovative ways to use their analytical skills to make a difference.” - Ian Gilmour, Associate Partner, KPMG

Competition & winners

As part of the case competition component of the event, student teams were asked to develop a strategy and circular waste economy network that creates value by tackling the issue of waste management in municipalities.

The panel of judges included Jury Gualandris, Ivey Professor; Jude Keefe, Researcher at Ivey and GIS consultant at Shared Value Solutions Ltd.; and Julia Bevacqua, Coordinator at the Centre for Building Sustainable Value. The judges were impressed by the student presentations and announced two winning teams. The judges thoroughly enjoyed the creativity displayed by both teams and their strategic recommendations and implementation plans.

“The PBAC Social Enterprise Conference and the motivation and creativity of the participating students was inspiring to be a part of. It is clear that Ivey students have a real passion for sustainability and social impact topics and that they are excited to apply those passions to important analytical issues. I’m filled with hope knowing that these bright students are some of society’s future leaders.” - Julia Bevacqua, Coordinator at the Centre for Building Sustainable Value and competition judge

We spoke to the members on each team to learn more on their experience taking part in the case competition:

"I am grateful that I had the opportunity to apply the knowledge I learned in corporate & sustainability and systems thinking classes to help Innovation Works London build a circular economy system. By seeing the interdependences of stakeholders, I realized environmental problems need everyone to contribute. For my part, after analyzing different waste management metrics, I see the importance of sorting wastes properly, instead of putting everything in a big black bag." - Leo Sun, Ivey MSc 2021 Candidate, Business Analytics

We also asked the general audience to share their experiences and what they found most valuable:

"I enjoyed the various panel speakers especially the speakers, Arthur and Efe who came in towards the end to share how they are trying to use analytical skills and techniques to help with the education initiative in Nigeria. I also like that other speakers partake in Pro Bono cases because I can picture ways to still get involved with Pro Bono cases and balance work." Misan Coker, Ivey MSc 2021 Candidate, Digital Management

Final words

In inviting passionate and socially impactful business professional and developing a social impact focused interactive activity, the PBAC Social Enterprise Conference has inspired students across Ivey to make a difference with their data. We'd like to send a special thanks to our speakers, event attendees, case competition participants, judges, and the Centre for Building Sustainable Value the Sustainability Centre.

As PBAC concludes its first year of operation, we hope to incorporate the successes from the conference in future programming initiatives.


This event was generously supported by the Advanced Analytics and Research Lab.