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

Gabrielle Foss: From the outdoors to corporate sustainability - An Ivey alum’s journey

Mar 30, 2023


Gabrielle Foss'  passion for the environment, cultivated through a childhood spent exploring the outdoors, has led her to a fulfilling and impactful career today.  

Throughout her childhood Gabrielle Foss, HBA '19, eagerly sought every opportunity to spend time outdoors. Whether it was being a part of Girl Guides Canada or partaking in multi-day canoe or dogsled trips with the Duke of Edinburgh Program, Gabrielle jumped at the chance to get out of the city and explore nature. Her deep affection for the environment left her with a natural desire to preserve and protect it with persistent commitment. 

Exploring the World of Social Enterprises 

Prior to Ivey, Gabrielle thought the only way to create positive social impact on people was through non-profit work. However, HBA introduced her to a new world of social enterprise. Gabrielle pursued this interest during her HBA via the Sustainability Certificate program and by being the Co-President of the Social Impact Club.   

She was also part of the Cansbridge Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to travel to Laos and work at a sustainable forestry company. Her responsibilities included helping the company achieve forest stewardship certification and developing a smallholder engagement strategy. These experiences provided Gabrielle with an international perspective, helping broaden her worldview.  

With a wide range of experiences in social impact and sustainability, Gabrielle was ready to embark on the corporate world. As a part of Deloitte's Sustainability and Climate Change team, she gained invaluable insights into the inner workings of corporate sustainability departments, further enriching her understanding of this field. Gabrielle now works at Creative Fire, a consultancy owned by English River First Nation and dedicated to centering diverse Knowledges in sustainability work, as a Senior Consultant within the ESG, Sustainability, and Reconciliation Action Plan practice 

Shifting Perspectives 

Working at Creative Fire has taught Gabrielle that organizational sustainability and Reconciliation strategies are more robust when built with engagement, especially with Indigenous thought leaders, at the foundation of the project approach.  She is currently most excited by her team’s focus on redesigning the ESG materiality processes to prioritize Indigenous perspectives on environmental and social topics, and the relationships between them. Gabrielle believes corporate sustainable development approaches can significantly benefit from more systems-level and multi-generational thinking; two aspects often deeply engrained in Indigenous environmental Knowledge. 

As Gabrielle reflects on her path to her current role and advice, she would give to HBA students today, she recalls how enthusiastically pursuing her interests has led her to naturally expand her network and stand out in her field. 

“When entering the corporate world today, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself. When I was recruiting in the past, I wrote articles on different sustainability topics that I was passionate about and ended up meeting individuals who helped me expand my perspective and learn more about the space. Dedicating time to developing your thoughts before networking with folks in the sustainability space often will yield a much more mutually valuable and productive conversation, and create space for continually challenging and advancing corporate sustainability practices."   

To connect with fellow alumni, join Ivey's LinkedIn Sustainability Community.