Living in Cameroon and studying with the locals was an experience that completely changed my life. It triggered my first questions about creating sustainability in the long run and the urgency of it.
I tried to answer them by broadening my horizons and getting out of the comfort zone of Environmental Sciences. In the process, I got to work for an international peacebuilding organization, I wrote immigration business plans, and I learned to apply approaches from business management, entrepreneurship, and design thinking to solve different business problems related to corporate sustainability.
With every new experience, I felt a step closer to the answer because I could see a bigger picture. Every new sustainability problem I got to solve, made me look at it with new eyes.
Sustainability is complex, and it doesn’t have one, straightforward answer. Instead, it’s a decision-making process that forces us to take time, approach it attentively, and define priorities.– Ana
Sustainability means doing business as if we’re here to stay. And yet, many of our business managers, leaders, elders, and educators simply don’t do it.
I believe sustainability should be everyone’s business – because our future depends on how well we incorporate it into our daily lives and our work.
My name is Ana Maksimović and I am a corporate sustainability consultant. I designed zero-waste events and waste management programs for communities in Italy, I worked on finding sustainable packaging solutions for brands in Romania and Slovenia, and I developed a circular fashion project in Serbia.
Unsustainable waste management in Cameroon
I was so sure that getting into the Conservation field will help me make an impact. My studies took me to Cameroon where I had a chance to experience the other side. I saw poverty, waste management issues, drinking water problems, poaching, and illegal trade… and I couldn’t do anything about it. All that made me think about how much a scientist can actually do to change the situation. I had so many questions that didn’t let me settle for a career in academic research.
The truth about resource management in Italy
The journey continued and the next stop was Italy where I learned about politics while working for an international NGO in the field of conflict resolution. It was such an eye-opener for me as a scientist who was previously involved only with taxonomy and animal population density maps. The chance I got to understand how the root causes of poverty, poor resource management, and pollution were linked to international governance completely changed the way I experienced the world. I couldn’t go back to science. It didn’t make any sense to me.
Outsourcing pollution to Indonesia
Hence, my search continued in Indonesia, a country of thousand smiles. I learned Danone was the main water supplier for a country stricken by massive water pollution. The French multinational was selling bottled water to Indonesians because their rivers have been contaminated by the outsourced production from Europe. As a consequence, with every used bottle, plastic litter continued building up.
This vicious circle made me think even harder: What was the thing to do to address the environmental issues? Was there anything to do at all?
I got to witness diverse sustainability problems while living around the world. At the same time, I got to experience fascinating collaborations driven by a genuine desire to change, rather than a need to increase customers. I started believing in the power of managers as drivers of change through making conscious choices for their companies.
Therefore, I invite you to join my journey to discover together how to develop sustainable business models, how to create buy-in that will support small and large scale sustainable decisions, and how to implement problem-solving processes that are kind to our planet.
Feel free to write me a line. I’d love to hear from you.