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Julia Bevacqua: Supporting Community

NBS Staff discuss their interests, their goals, and what drove them to pursue business sustainability.

Q: What’s your role at NBS? 

I’m digital engagement coordinator, which means that I help disseminate what we’re doing. And I look for ways we can engage people, through different kinds of conversations.

The goal is to build a community. I think that’s why NBS exists. We don’t want people just to look at static content, but to take things in and use them to connect with others as well. A community is a place where discussions and debates happen.

You need communities to solve today’s problems — collaboration is the only way that we’re going to get stuff done. Siloed groups can only do so much. If a community brings people together, there’s a lot more potential.

Q: How did you get interested in sustainability?

I was always interested in being environmentally friendly, but it wasn’t at the forefront of what I cared about until a few years into university.

I think I was attracted to the area because of the people in the space. I found that compared to other areas, sustainability had a niche of people that were passionate but kind and just very overall inspiring. So I thought, “What you’re doing, it’s very cool. I want to be a part of that too and I want to continue to be around people like this.”

The first thing getting me really fired up was a documentary about sustainable fashion. I was so appalled and angry about what the documentary covered. And I think that was one of the first times where I thought, “OK, I feel anger. Why am I so angry about this?” I realized that’s how you know something is a path or a direction to take, when you feel that passionate about it.

Q: What did you study in college? 

I did a media degree at Western University and combined that with the business degree at Ivey Business School (where NBS is based.)

As an undergraduate, I ran Ivey’s sustainability club for a year, and I still work with the club. It’s been such a fun experience getting to watch how the club has evolved. Events that we could never really get running when I was president are being sold out now.

So it’s so cool to see, even in such a short amount of time, how much undergrad students have picked up on sustainability. I’m not sure if that’s an overall trend — that people starting business school are more interested in sustainability — or if it’s the really great club leaders, who have pushed the sustainability topic to their fellow students.

Q: NBS interviews always ask about your ideal dinner guest. Who is it for you? 

I’ve been reading a lot of books by Margaret Atwood, so I would invite her. I would like to ask about her characters. I usually don’t find her main characters very admirable, or at least on the surface level. So I’d like to ask her if she means to portray them that way and why.

My own explanation is that the character you don’t like is often more realistic. I think we like reading about people who are so tremendous and extraordinary. But then you ask yourself what you would do in a situation, and you probably would be doing what the unlikable character might do.

For example, in The Handmaid’s Tale, the main character was very passive for most of the book and just went along with things. You want to shake her — Do something! But you probably wouldn’t rebel in her situation — why should she have to take action?

Q: But you seem like an activist!

I’d like to be more active on the issues I care about. I think I just sit here waiting for those opportunities to come, but I’m realizing, you’ve got to really search them out. They don’t just come to you. So that’s something I’m working on.

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  • NBS

    The Network for Business Sustainability (NBS) is a non-profit advancing sustainable development to build a fairer and more environmentally sound future. We aim to improve business practice by facilitating knowledge sharing across an international community of business leaders, scholars, students and policy makers. With these stakeholders, we co-create high-quality content that enables practical action. Our content focuses on 6 critical sustainability themes, from climate change to social justice.

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