Mark Bayrack, MBA ‘20, discusses his transition to sustainable business and his impact at Growing Greener Innovations.
Early life experiences hold significant influence over how people see the world. This fact is particularly true for Mark Bayrack, MBA ‘20, who grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and earned an engineering degree from the University of Alberta. As a result of an environment full of opportunities in Oil and Gas, Mark began his career in this industry.
Engineering mindset meets sustainable business practices
While Mark was working in Oil and Gas, he realized he had the technical skills to solve engineering problems but needed to gain the business-related skills that were highly intertwined with his decision-making. That’s when he decided to return to school and pursue an Ivey MBA.
The case method rapidly exposed Mark to business problems and the tools to solve them. However, one of the highlights of his time in the MBA program was the South American study trip he participated in. Mark interacted with over ten companies, but one particularly stuck with Mark because of its unique business model. This was Natura - a Brazilian makeup company that prioritized people, profit, and the planet. Mark emerged from the experience with a new understanding of how businesses can operate.
Mark’s confidence in his abilities to solve issues related to the energy transition greatly increased after he finished his MBA. Mark most recently worked at Growing Greener Innovations (GGI), a clean-energy technology company.
One of his recent projects focused on the developing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Atlantic Canada. Mark sees this as a priority, as the transportation sector accounted for 24% of Canada’s total emissions in 2020. To address this, the Government of Canada has mandated the roll-out of zero-emissions vehicles and charging stations to accommodate them. GGI’s Battery Energy Storage Systems, supplied by both grid and renewable power, can deliver reliable, affordable, equitable, and climate-friendly energy for EV drivers to recharge in the most remote corners of Canada. This project is one example of how sustainability influences energy system innovations.
Driving sustainable change
Mark believes that collaboration is needed to spark meaningful change in the energy industry. He notes that this collaboration must come from all stakeholders - academia, industry, government, and more. He states that we must find common ground and include all voices at the table. As Mark evaluates the current landscape for sustainability, he notes that a current challenge is the tension between the traditional Oil and Gas industry and sustainability-focused practitioners. He knows a shift in mindset is required to move from an 'us versus them' mentality to an 'us and them' approach. With that perspective, he emphasizes how business models must be rethought with adaptation in mind. To illustrate the current pace of innovation, Mark draws a comparison from his childhood:
“Today, we can watch a full-length movie from our smartphones. Only 25 years ago, we marveled at dial-up internet and oversized cellular phones. But society was demanding increased connectivity and convenience, and it was technology-focused innovations that sparked a system-wide evolution that defines our world today. Now, with the threat of climate change, society is demanding widespread action that necessitates an unprecedented global energy system transformation by 2050. While the challenge is immense, we have an opportunity to reshape how we do business with people, planet, and profits in mind. I’m optimistic that our generation can come together and find innovative solutions to this new challenge.
To connect with fellow alumni, join Ivey's LinkedIn Sustainability Community.