Works Five: Shu Yi Chu, Sustainability Manager

Sep 5, 2017 Barry Chong Interviews

In an ongoing series profiling The Works’ staff, we chatted with our Sustainability Manager, Shu Yi Chu, about the value of cosmopolitanism, how companies can avoid making CSR mistakes, and embracing artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).

WHO are you?

I’m a globetrotter. Travelling, experiencing new cultures, learning new languages – that’s been my life so far. I was brought up in Hong Kong but also spent a lot of my childhood in Canada. I studied Environment and Development at McGill University in Montréal before attending the University of Oxford and earning my Master of Science in Environmental Change and Management. And now I live and work in downtown Toronto, itself a sort of microcosm of the world.


WHAT pitfalls do companies often fail to see when developing their sustainability strategy?

Most oversights stem from an impulse to rush into reporting, which leads to making false assumptions. A company must first determine why it wants to be sustainable, and then understand the needs and wants of its particular stakeholders. And that means undertaking a thorough and systematic engagement process. It means not necessarily giving preference to the loudest person in the room. Granted, some companies have neither the time nor the resources to do this. That’s why The Works exists. We research, plan and execute a client’s sustainability strategy to bridge the gap between early ideas and ultimate impacts.


WHERE do you find inspiration to improve your consulting approach?

It’s a constant stream of reading, lectures, meetings – everything, really. Sustainability reporting is so interesting, because it touches so many topics and sectors. Like most complex and evolving jobs, you have to find everything interesting if you want to be successful. It sounds grandiose, but you need to know where the world is going.

Shu Yi Chu, Sustainability Manager at The Works Design in Toronto, speaks at Metro Hall in Toronto.

Shu Yi gives a talk on emerging trends in reporting in the Mining and Minerals sector, hosted by The NATO Association of Canada at Metro Hall in Toronto.

WHEN did sustainability enter your consciousness?

As a kid growing up in both Asia and Canada, I could clearly see how the environment affected quality of life. There was a stark difference between the two settings: the value of the right to clean air. My interest in geography and biology led me to environmental studies, which, of course, morphed into what we now call sustainability. It’s a fluid and unpredictable area. But with the challenge comes the opportunity for real change.


WHY is The Works’ Sustainability Reporting Trends microsite important?

Put simply: technology makes sustainability more fun. We’re reaching the digital generation. With an online presence, we can push our research, writing and design to more effectively reach people’s inboxes and timelines. The Works’ sustainability approach is already well versed in social media and video, and I’m excited to see what we can learn about AI and VR. We’re talking about real-time, immersive disclosure. And that’s going to bring so many more people into the conversation.

Barry Chong is a writer at The Works Design Communications.
Barry Chong
Barry Chong is a writer at The Works Design Communications.

Barry specializes in script writing and other editorial pursuits. He is a clinical Torontonian and has no intention of dropping the habit. Check him out on iTunes – his show is called Hogtown Talks. We recommend the episode where he interviews Alan Cross about a curly slide.

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