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Centre for Building Sustainable Value · Rebecca Zuker, HBA Candidate '23

Second careers with a sustainable focus – An Ivey alumni’s journey into sustainable interior design

Dec 16, 2022

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Sally Seston’s journey after completing her MBA at Ivey was not linear, but the twists and turns were exactly what were necessary to provide enrichment and meaning. 

Throughout her career Sally worked with companies including Shoppers Drug Mart, Hilton Hotels, and the Hudson’s Bay, holding roles business strategy, sales, marketing and business development. Sally even began her own retail strategy consultancy. Time-management skills learned at Ivey equipped Sally to captain this business while at the same time pursuing various executive roles.  

Sally notes that “one of the benefits of the Ivey Business Program is that it develops critical skills to be successful whether working for another employer or building your own business. It gives you the opportunity to pursue things that you are really interested in. When you combine the skills you acquire at Ivey and your personal interests – you are set up for success.” 

In 2017, Sally sold her business. After years of experience in the retail sector, Sally had recognized the untapped potential to integrate sustainability into re-models and renovations. Inspired by this potential, she began researching ways to bring sustainable retail buildings to fruition.  

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed Sally to pursue her passion and enroll in a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design. Sally knew she wanted to integrate sustainability into her degree and found a program at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design (RMCAD) where she could specialize in it. Sally also completed her LEED (green building) accreditation and is now finishing her WELL (health and wellness-centered design) accreditation.   

Sally now practices as an interior designer at Design that Sustains - an interior design company that prioritizes sustainability in all aspects of the design process. In her role, she works with clients to determine their needs and provide them with a breadth of choices, all sustainable, of course.  

“As we begin projects, it is my job to bring sustainability to the table as a consideration. Even when clients are not seeking LEED certification, it’s important to at least put sustainability and sustainable practices at the forefront of the process. It also involves talking to professionals in the industry and ensuring that we work together to make sustainable living a reality.”  

For students looking to integrate sustainability into their career, Sally advises critically considering the companies you are looking at and asking yourself; are there people like you? is it a fit culturally?   

Sally believes that the sharp increase in businesses practicing sustainability has generated more choices for young professionals, allowing them first to prioritize their interests, and add a sustainable lens later on. She also encourages students to complete relevant accreditations in order to stand out. Coupled with an Ivey education, it sets students up for a lifetime of success.