Beedie students chosen to attend global summit for sustainability and responsible leadership

Sep 27, 2011

Two students from SFU’s Beedie School of Business have been selected to be among only 125 globally to attend the Daimler World Dialogue in Germany. Undergraduate student Chris Velasco and MBA student Lee O’Donnell are off to Stuttgart to attend the highly selective event, taking place on October 4 and 5 at the Mercedes-Benz Museum and the Carl Benz Arena.

Daimler, one of the world’s leading automobile companies, is hosting the event alongside the UN Global Compact GRLI (Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative’s) 11th General Assembly in the German city.

Participating students will engage in discussions with the GRLI General Assembly — which includes 60 representatives from well-known business schools and companies — on the topic of “sustainable and responsible leadership to face the challenges of tomorrow.”

Velasco, who brings a strong sustainability focus to the dialogue, originally learned of the event through the SFU undergraduate class “Management Practices for Sustainability,” taught by Assistant Professor Stephanie Bertels.

O’Donnell, who also learned of the opportunity through prof. Bertels in his MBA program, has an extensive background in the automotive industry. He worked for several years as an engine designer at Honda, developing new engines and transmissions to make more efficient and better performing Honda vehicles.

“The world is an ever-shrinking place where trade, commerce, economies, cultures and governance from around the world are all becoming increasingly linked,” said O’Donnell. “The benefit from the dialogue is being exposed to discussions on very real issues in the automotive industry and to get to hear the views from present and future business leaders globally.”

Prior to working as an engine designer at Honda, he was a researcher for the French company Faurecia, working with new systems to control the exhaust output of cars to make them less polluting.

Velasco is in his final year of studies at the Beedie School, concentrating in human resources, entrepreneurship and innovation. In his spare time, he works with impoverished individuals through the international charitable organization ANCOP International. Last summer, he travelled to the Philippines on a mission trip to build houses for the homeless in that country.

“I’m looking forward to establishing strong networks with leaders from all over the world while working with them to create sustainable solutions for the benefit of future generations,” said Velasco. “My aim is to return to Canada to share the knowledge and experiences that I gained at this dialogue.”

Velasco also has worked as a research assistant for prof. Bertels, garnering exposure to how companies embed sustainability practices into organizational culture. “I realized that I want to get into the field of sustainability after graduation, either through consulting with companies to become more sustainable, or through starting up a social or green energy venture,” he said. “The Daimler World Dialogue will surely help me achieve my post-graduation goals.”

For more information about the UN Global Compact GRLI General Assembly:

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