When Sybil Mulcahy (HBA ‘18) graduated, she knew her background in business would help her achieve her personal career goals, whatever they may be. Her time in the HBA allowed her to explore a plethora of different traditional business topics. However, Sybil was also keenly interested in sustainability and knew it was something that eventually would appear at the forefront of her career. Two years at Ivey taught Sybil that a sustainability perspective could apply to all areas of business. Thus, she planned to realize her business passion and subsequently implement sustainability into this path. In this time of exploration, Sybil realized her interests lay within strategy and operations.
“Ivey helped me understand that different areas of business can result in long-lasting impact. Ivey also helped me realize that sustainability is a subject matter expertise, not a career, and that it’s necessary to build business core competencies in order to thrive in the sustainability space.”
Sybil took on a role at Accenture post-graduation, working as a strategy consultant. During the three years spent there, she worked on various projects within the social impact space, including the Accenture Development Project, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) projects, and other pro bono initiatives. This first step allowed Sybil to expand her core competencies and further understand what direction she wanted her career to go.
In her final days at Accenture, Sybil felt stuck. She did not know where her career was headed but did know she wanted to create an even greater social impact than in her previous role. Sybil considered returning to academia to further her education.
In this time of uncertainty, Sybil was presented with a great opportunity - a role at Uber as an Operations and Strategy Manager, specifically focused on the company's sustainability commitments. This role felt like the right direction, and Sybil accepted.
Sybil’s team is charged with helping Uber achieve its commitment to become a zero-emissions platform. Sybil is assigned the goal of helping drivers on the Uber app make a fair transition to electric vehicles. Although the deadline is seven years away, reaching this goal requires a consistent and dedicated climb. Sybil finds motivation in taking a step back to look at the bigger picture, whether that be seeing the overall percentage of electric vehicles go up or an increase in the portion of kilometers that are driven electrically.
Working at Uber has opened Sybil’s eyes to how social and environmental change can be made within the sector and which companies are willing to take on the daunting task of setting the precedent for the future.
Sybil notes, "Uber has a saying – ‘Do the right thing, period.’ However, change must occur from a joint collaboration between government and corporations to make it as easy and affordable for consumers to make the right choice. Today, only a small number of people do extra research to ensure they are living sustainably. It is up to the corporations to make that information easily accessible so that all consumers can live sustainably."
Sybil recommends that students looking to enter the sustainability world ask themselves two critical questions:
- What do you like doing?
- What kind of impact do you want to make on business?
Understanding what you enjoy doing from a ‘task’ perspective is essential to your future success. Once you establish those answers, Sybil believes finding a role that encompasses sustainability will be much easier.
“Sustainability is very broad. You need to narrow down where your passions are – think about where you want to build that subject matter expertise and double down in that space.”
The Uber employee reinforces that, at the end of the day, your skills and expertise inform hiring decisions. Building up key competencies is essential because it allows your passion for sustainability to shine.