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Growing up on Vancouver Island, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, mountains and forests. I loved spending weekends going on hikes with friends or hanging by the beach and watching sunsets. Because of my love for nature and my hope that it remains for generations to come, I am always looking to learn and develop my understanding in order to minimize my carbon footprint.  My interests include both environmental and social sustainability, and whether it's personal or professional, I am always conscious that my work aligns with my values of making a positive impact.

What is your personal definition of sustainability?

Sustainability means meeting the current needs of society without compromising the needs of future generations. The earth's resources are finite, therefore, sustainability means that we are not depleting resources as quick as we are creating them. Although oftentimes sustainability only encompasses environmentalism, sustainability also includes addressing social equity issues and improving economic development. This means everyone has the access to the resources they need and the basic human rights are being met. Sustainability happens when it goes from something nice to have to being engrained in everyday actions and integrated into business decisions.

What role do you see sustainability playing in your professional career?

Sustainability will play an indirect or direct role in my professional career. When choosing an organization to work for, I always look for their ESG report and any initiatives that employees can get involved in. Sustainability should be at the core value of any organization, and if it is not already, I hope to advocate new initiatives within the organization. Coming from a psychology background, I learned that people are often resistant to change and are afraid of ambiguity. I hope to leverage my knowledge gained through psychology to help people become a champion of change. In business school, I learned that facilitating conversations within an organization can create a spark in the organization, and I hope being an advocate, even in an entry-level position, will allow companies to eventually consider sustainability as part of their core values. Sustainability is an issue that constantly needs to be addressed and re-evaluated, it can be a key differentiator to any industry, especially when attracting young talent. My long-term goal is to help assist in companies prioritizing profit and sustainability equally and working in an HR role that seeks new talent that aligns with the company's sustainability values.

What sustainability projects have you been engaged in?

Starting in high school, I was part of my school's outdoor leadership program where I went to an organic farm and learned about the importance of sustainable farming practices and limited pesticide use. From this experience, I was inspired to join the vegan society where we partnered with envirowestern and discussed the small changes that can be done in a person's life to reduce their carbon footprint and invited speakers to discuss the importance of sustainable farming. On a personal level, I have adopted a vegetarian/vegan diet for environmental and animal rights reasons, I have also tried to be a conscious consumer by purchasing local to propel a circular economy and look for eco-friendly and/or ethically sourced packaging. Within school, I am involved in an impact consulting project with ATN, an organization that connects people with disability to future jobs, which involves developing a sustainable growth strategy for the organization through identifying potential risks. On western campus, I help promote the importance of wellbeing, and create a safe place for students to discuss any issues through my role as a student athletic mental health advocate and a peer support volunteer.

Karmen Tse

Karmen Tse

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