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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Taryn Matteazzi and Ramsey Andary

Reflecting on impact at Ivey’s graduate sustainability conference

Dec 12, 2022

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Attendees and speakers gathered at the conference

On November 18-19th, 2022, the Ivey MSc Sustainability Club and the Ivey MBA Sustainability Club hosted the 2nd Graduate Sustainability Conference in partnership with Ivey’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value.   

Impact Careers Panel 

To start the conference off, Ivey alumnus Jason Edwards (EMBA ’20), Brendan Horan (MBA ’20), and Laura Schlee (HBA ’16) engaged over 65 students as they shared their experiences in sustainable fashion, finance, and consulting.  

When asked about one of the proudest moments in his career, Edwards described a partnership with Converse that sources recycled materials and turns them into fashionable shirts and shoes for the brand. Schlee works for EY Ripples, the organization’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm. She spoke of taking on extracurricular CSR responsibilities within her accounting role at EY and subsequently falling in love with the idea of working on that full-time. This led to the inception of an established EY Ripples team, which she oversees. When asked to think about challenges faced in his role at PaceZero Capital Partners, Brendan talked about the arduous process of creating clear, standardized definitions for firms looking for green investments. 

Ramsey Andary notes that “as an MBA student in the midst of some soul-searching regarding career paths, I was both relieved and energized by the stories of these passionate alumni. The work that they each take on is meaningful, challenging, and pioneering. Through their journeys, I realized that it is possible to have a rewarding career in any industry that includes a passion for making an impact in the realm of sustainability while pushing boundaries for personal growth and venturing to uncharted territory.” 

The panellists taught students that sustainability does not have to exist in silos. Taryn Matteazzi found it captivating to hear from three incredible individuals who are pursuing extremely different career paths, yet all have a genuine passion to change the world. Their stories left the audience on the edge of their seats and jumping at the opportunity to learn more at the following networking dinner.  

Photo: Lavisha Dasani & Arora Akanksha (left to right)  

Learning by Doing 

Early the following morning, conference attendees participated in a net-zero simulation run by Oana Branzei. Oana began by asking attendees to do a quick internet search of their dream companies. She demonstrated that reducing carbon emissions is no longer a "nice to have" for company CEOs - this matter is on everyone’s minds. As students took part in the net-zero simulation, they slowly realized that different levers have differing impacts on the effectiveness of emission reduction in a given business. The simulation was an engaging and competitive way for students to learn how challenging it is to balance profit and achieving net-zero in the real-world.  

Afterward, Arora Akanksha, Lecturer at Ivey and past auditor at the United Nations, shared many words of wisdom. She spoke about her fascinating career journey, experiences with imposter syndrome, and balancing health and success while pursuing her goal of making a difference in this world. This was a fireside chat unlike any other due to Arora’s willingness to speak candidly about her experiences.  

Commenting on the obstacles ESG initiatives face in the near future, Arora discussed the lack of awareness around issues that fall within the ‘Social’ aspect of ESG. "They're very uncomfortable and depressing at times to think about, but it's these difficult societal stories around the world that need more attention from us." At the end of the conversation, an attendee asked Arora how she put herself out there as a candidate for Secretary-General, knowing that she would have to face colleagues at the UN who may not support her. Her response was inspiring: she encouraged the student not to worry about what others think and instead make decisions based on what she believes is best to help support the important causes around her. Arora’s vulnerability, determination, and honesty shone through for all students.  

Final Reflections 

Matteazzi notes that, “it was incredible seeing our vision come to life. Looking back at the past sixteen months in the MSc program, running this event has been my proudest accomplishment”. 

Andary was inspired by the “level of enthusiasm and engagement received from graduate students at Ivey who share a passion for ESG or simply want to learn more about these topics from subject matter experts.” He looks forward to the impact this wave of future alumni will have on the business world in the years to come.