Mariya Chugay: The Montreal Youth Summit on Sustainable Business
Written by: Sarah Valliere
Answering the call with a warm smile, I see Mariya Chugay on the other side of the screen. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Mariya for about 1 year now. Speaking to Mariya, the past president of JSEC, she is always lively, the conversation flows with ease as she is always up for thought-provoking topics. I first met her at a JSEC meet and greet in 2019, where my curiosity of sustainability was slowly shaping. Ever since then she has encouraged me to continue my journey with JSEC and sustainability. I then applied for the executive team and now am proudly the Creative Director.
I say this story because this represents Mariya’s personal and presidential goals; inspiring and educating. Starting off as the Director of Academics, she sought out to bridge the gap of sustainable teachings and business in the JMSB classrooms. Most students weren’t aware of how sustainability was relevant in their major, which posed a problem. If the leaders of the future aren’t aware of this topic, how will change come about?
In 2019, when Mariya was elected president of JSEC, the opportunity to reach a greater audience to educate, inspire and connect appeared in the form of The Montreal Sustainable Youth Summit.
The Montreal Youth Summit is a 2 day event presenting a selection of inspiring panels and engaging workshops. Led by John Molson Sustainable Enterprise Committee, Desautel Sustainable Network and HEC’s Montreal Groupe Humaniterre, the event’s goal is built upon 3 objectives; inspire, educate and connect.
Due to the grandness of the event, majors questions came up in regards to the commitment and work load. Mariya decided this event is bigger and more impactful than just JSEC, and that ultimately, they need to be a part of it.
“You know, we have 3 organization in Montreal, where each were going to hold similar conference so why not pull all our resources together to make it bigger and better, to make a greater impact” Mariya explains
She showed me the complex excel worksheets organizing all the information from speaker relations, to catering and timelines. Basically, it gave me nightmares. This was obviously no easy task to accomplish. Separate teams were made from the JSEC committee, where they had to juggle tasks from the JSEC mandate and this event. Through collaboration and a lot of volunteer hours, all JSEC, DSN and Humaniterre put on the first ever Montreal Youth Summit on sustainable business.
The great thing about this event was that it impacted everyone involved.
“To engage and really cause an effect, we structured the event following a horizontal and vertical engagement tactic.” Mariya describes
Horizontal engagement encompassed the aspect of educating the audience. This was mostly the first day, where speakers would present a topic and panels were discussed. The vertical engagement focused on connecting this new knowledge to real world practice. The participants had the opportunity to apply what they learnt through smaller grouped interactive workshops.
It created a ripple effect at every level.
For JSEC, spread of the Summit word raised awareness on sustainability within Concordia. The buzz sparked frequent discussions on sustainability and its potential partnership within the other committees in JMSB. Different major associations started looking at sustainability more as an ally than a foe.
For speakers and sponsors, once they started to see the immensity of this event, the more they were intrigued. 600 students from different majors and backgrounds all assembling into one space cultivating a surge of creative and innovative energies. How can you not get excited?! The buzz was so big it led to the ministry of environment Canada to send a speech and members of parliament came to give opening speeches.
For local Montreal businesses, they were promoted throughout the event. At the company fair, students and companies were able to connect for internships or even to just start a conversation around sustainability.
This event left a lasting impression that there is a sustainable revolution happening; it is possible and this is what you can do to take part in it. It is through collaboration of everyone; engineers, businessmen, farmers, that we can all work together to create the change that our future needs.
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So Mariya, what advice do you have for students or anyone who wants to start actively taking steps to start their own initiative? I ask
She responds with a simple 4 step methodology answer
1. Find the Gap 2. Brainstorm to address the Gap 3. Get a good team behind you 4. Build the Conversation
She emphasizes to look out for the redundancies. What does that mean? Look at your environment, take a step back and see what is missing. She also stresses the importance of good team work. Find people who care as much as you do and are willing to put in the work. Finally, build the conversation around what you are passionate about. Start a dialogue on what you are working on with the people you speak with.
This combo will give you the foundation you need to start successful sustainable initiatives of your own.