Mar 5, 2018 Marie King 5 min read
Today’s job market can be a tough place for millennials. We contend with “lack of work ethic” and “entitled” stereotypes while just trying to get a foot in the door somewhere that is willing to take a chance on us despite our different (or “lack of”) experience. It can be a scary place to be — especially if you aren’t willing to lay your values aside in the name of earning a dollar.
When I finished my degree in 2011, I wanted to gain experiences that expanded greatly on my upbringing in rural Newfoundland (that triangle-shaped island off Canada’s east coast). So, I jumped on a plane and flew to South Korea to teach English. Over the years that ensued, I worked in intervals and used my savings go on backpacking trips through Asia and South America. It’s a tale that is not too uncommon among my age group.
When I finally decided that I was ready to focus on building up my life at home in Canada and using my experiences to make real contributions, my time spent in foreign terrain, cultures and levels of development seemed to amount to nothing.
Although I studied biology as my undergraduate degree (driven by a love of animals and childhood idolization of Jane Goodall), my travel experiences motivated me to return to school to specialize in environmental engineering technology. I wanted to be part of a solution to the issues I saw again and again — polluted water bodies, desertification, deforestation and outdated forms of technology that caused extreme harm to the planet. It wasn’t just concern for the environment that stuck with me, but the deep levels of poverty and injustice were something I’d never witnessed growing up in Canada.
Enter FigBytes. I came across the job posting just when I was questioning whether I could really find a team that embraced the same values or if I’d have to change my standards to get by. When I interviewed with Ted Dhillon, COO and Head of Professional Services, I knew the sustainability technology company was different.
Ted shared his past experiences working in humanitarian relief, how the entire C-suite had unique backgrounds that had twists and turns and how that inevitably led them all to the same conclusion — that we live in a world where big changes need to happen on every level if we want this planet to be a truly “sustainable” place to exist. He emphasized how FigBytes valued different experiences and backgrounds, the ability to be flexible and adaptable in different environments and situations. The common purpose of making a true and meaningful contribution to achieving sustainability and salvaging a planet in a dire situation required this coming together of people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances.
This was a breath of fresh air. I’d spent the last year learning about the type of environmental and sustainability departments that were created to protect the company rather than do good for the world. My instructors emphasized how an economy must be stable before the environment becomes a priority, though most people who pursue careers in sustainability understand that all elements must be in balance. A disjointed view just doesn’t work. Letting the environment slide into decline does not lead to good things on social and economic levels. Indeed, in order for any sustainable economy to exist long term, the environment cannot merely be surviving, but thriving. I’d finally found a company that fit with my education and skills as well as my personal values.
Since I began working with FigBytes last year, I’ve seen this mindset lead to huge wins. Not only does the FigBytes team really stand behind these ideals, but the clients we work with are also on a mission to make a difference on environmental, social and economic levels. These are leaders with ambitious goals that are not always common within their own sectors.
A unique aspect of my work with FigBytes has been the opportunity to sit in on meetings from the initial client calls, through strategy building sessions and into actual system implementation. Many organizations start out with good intentions but get lost in the jargon and countless directions that sustainability initiatives can take. This rare, behind-the-scenes look at how companies attempt to tackle sustainability challenges and how brainstorming sessions can take complex and abstract ideas and simplify them as tangible and realistic goals has shown me the leaps forward that are possible when people with a common and genuine purpose put their heads together.
These are perspectives that not many individuals get to see when looking at a company from the outside, so being part of this process is one of the most interesting aspects of the job. These experiences have shaped how I view my future career ambitions and have already been invaluable to my professional growth.
I’ve encountered many companies and organizations throughout my adult life that presented themselves with the sustainable façade and greenwashed their image, only to have very little substance beneath the surface. As a new part of the FigBytes team, I’ve seen a genuine attitude of concern truly attracts likeminded change agents.
I’ve been lucky enough to witness transformative success during the time that I’ve been here. In a time that is truly uncertain, it seems that organizations across the globe are jumping on board to be part of a positive change. With this display of positive reinforcement and momentum, it’s exciting to be on board for what comes next.