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

Jennifer Couldrey: Engage in social impact both personally and professionally – an alumni’s story

Feb 23, 2023


When Jennifer Couldrey, HBA 2010, thinks back on her time at Ivey, she immediately recalls the mentors who led her down a life-long journey of social impact.

As the first official employee at the Upside Foundation, Jennifer has since made a profound impact helping founders of early-stage, high-growth Canadian companies build social responsibility into their businesses.

Finding Passion in Social Impact: A Journey in Kenya

Throughout Jennifer’s undergraduate degree at Ivey, she was involved with the charitable organization Western Heads East, where she travelled to Kenya to help a local women’s group establish a micro-enterprise focused on providing probiotics to HIV affected populations, contributing to health and sustainable development. This exposed Jennifer to two interests that would become influential in her future decisions – social impact and entrepreneurship.

Moving forward, Jennifer vowed to keep social impact at the forefront of her mind. Time spent at Ivey also contributed to Jennifer’s growing enthusiasm surrounding sustainability. She joined Ivey Connects, which encourages students to contribute to the societies in which they operate, as a Co-Director. Jennifer was also greatly influenced by inspiring professors such as Oana Branzei and Tima Bansal, who nurtured and guided students’ involvement in sustainability issues. Jennifer left Ivey with a deep understanding of corporate social responsibility topics and how she could further implement these in her professional life.

Before entering the social impact space, Jennifer held many roles at Deloitte Canada. Five years at the company taught Jennifer critical business skills. However, this experience also inspired her to evaluate how she could make her work more meaningful.

One day, Jennifer spoke on an Ivey career panel about tech & social impact, where she was inspired by the other panelists to want to be a part of building something- which inspired a change of course and the beginning of her role as Executive Director at the Upside Foundation. In this role, Jennifer focused on helping entrepreneurs give back to their communities, specifically in the technology industry.

What The Future Holds

As Jennifer transitions out of her role at the Upside Foundation and into a new endeavour as a Professional EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) Implementer, she doesn’t plan on minimizing her involvement with social impact at all. Although the work of an EOS Implementer may be less directly involved with social impact, Jennifer does not believe her professional work must determine her involvement in social impact.

In her personal life, Jennifer plans to continue donating to causes she’s passionate about and expand her volunteering in ways such as working pro bono to address significant issues. Jennifer hopes the future of sustainability is one where incorporating social impact is table stakes when founding a business.

Jennifer advises students entering the sustainability field to take some of the pressure off finding the perfect job. She notes that as young professionals evolve, so does the world.

As Jennifer reflects, she shares that “nothing is ever permanent, so continue to search for what you love. A job is not a forever solution. I have had 4 different jobs so far, focusing on different topics and expertise within my professional career. Each time I made that change – the job was my dream job at that moment! I have loved exploring what the world has to offer.”

Jennifer believes there are thousands of opportunities within the social impact space, and it is important to leverage your past experiences and beliefs about the future to keep growing and developing.


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