Environment, Economy, Development, & Sustainability ‘14
Senior Associate, TriVista
Ali earned a degree in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability from SENR in 2014. During her time in SENR, she was involved in ENR scholars, Alpha Phi Omega, intramural sports, and she completed several internships. After graduation, Ali worked for a small sustainability company and is now a Senior Associate at an operations consulting firm, TriVista
Read the full interview with Ali:
A Glance at Ali’s Current Work
I am currently a Senior Associate for TriVista, which is an operations consulting firm based in Orange County, CA where I am also located. I am a member of the due diligence practice, where we focus on operational assessments of companies looking to be purchased by private equity firms. My role entails advising on the strengths, risks, and areas of growth of the target company’s operations, as well as savings opportunities.
What does a typical day look like?
No day is alike! If I am on an active project, it will usually involve either being on site interviewing members of the target company or working in the office doing data analysis and report writing. As a typical project lasts 2-3 weeks, it is always a mad rush to get everything completed by then!
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Knowing that my skills and background are valued and that they contribute directly to our reports. In many jobs it can feel like what you are doing has no direct value or addition to the company overall. When I’m on a project, however, I know all the work I’m doing will go into the report and that my viewpoint matters.
Many times, as a young professional you don’t have the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities - I’m lucky to be in a position in which I am challenged and pushed to grow further.
In college I majored in Environment, Economy, Development, and Sustainability with a focus on Business and Sustainability. I was heavily involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service-based fraternity, as well as the ENR Scholars program. Plus, I was always playing intramurals!
Additionally, I completed a couple of internships throughout college. These included, Telesto Group (Princeton, NJ; Summer 2011), Dächert GmbH (Darmstadt, Germany; Summer 2012), and the Mayor’s Office, City of Columbus (Columbus, OH; Summer 2013). The internship with the City was by far my favorite internship, plus it tied perfectly with the EEDS program. I was fortunate enough to extend what I was doing for the City through my capstone project senior year.
After graduation, I went straight to work. I worked for a small sustainability consulting firm that was based in Lynchburg, VA.
Which experience do you feel was most valuable in your professional development?
My current position has helped me grow professionally in so many ways. When I was writing my first report for a client, I worried that I wouldn’t have the correct analyses or know what to write. A coworker told me, “You were hired for your ability and your insight – write what you see fit.” It was the trust in me and what I bring to the table that put me on a path for growth. Many times, as a young professional you don’t have the opportunity to demonstrate your abilities - I’m lucky to be in a position in which I am challenged and pushed to grow further.
Navigating the Job Market
What was most important to you in your job search?
The biggest question for me when looking for a job is, “Is the job sustainability-related, and if not, can the position help me with a sustainability career in the future?” The next big factor is figuring out whether I can grow in the position. Sometimes it can be hard to gauge that in a job listing, but it becomes evident during the interview process. I don’t want to be in a position that plateaus after two years and then there’s no room for growth.
If you don’t have an advanced degree, do you feel that has been limiting for you?
I don’t have an advanced degree yet, but I’m hoping to get my MBA in the near future. While it hasn’t been limiting yet, I think having my MBA will help my career grow, especially as I aim to get back into sustainability. Since there are not many sustainability positions in companies, having a strong business background in addition to a sustainability background can help. Between the MBA and my current position, I think that will help grow my supply chain and operations background along with my sustainability degree and experience.
Advice for Current Students
Don’t be afraid to go into something that isn’t traditionally sustainability related. Even though I’m not currently in an active sustainability role, I hope to get back to that sometime in the future. I know that having an expanded background in operations and supply chain will still be beneficial when applying for a corporate sustainability job.