Interviews

Fatima Crerar: A day in the life of a Senior Manager of Social Impact

Fatima shares her typical day, what CSR means at ecobee and insights on what it takes to work in corporate social impact. 

Aim high, always. This is one of Fatima Crerar’s work/life philosophies and a great guiding principle for all of our careers. We first met Fatima a few years ago when she was the Director of Projects at Public Inc. For the last two years she’s been leading social impact at ecobee- a fast growing, eco-focused, Canadian tech company making smart thermostats.

Can you describe your typical day?

My typical (ideal) day starts the night before, when I get my “thinking” work done. It’s a time for research and taking in the news. My best creativity comes at night! Mornings start early, with my family, trying to get everyone set for a great day. I usually call my parents on my walk to work and listen to an audiobook or Podcast on my subway ride in (currently: Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman).

Once at the office, most of my day is spent working with teammates, out from behind my desk on projects at hand. Everything from a Creative meeting on an upcoming campaign, to working with external partners on new projects, with as much time in the middle for doing. This role has me constantly engaging with colleagues. It doesn’t get done alone.

On my way home, I pick up my audiobook or podcast for the TTC ride and then call my brother on my walk.

A great day includes contributing some volunteer time to other important initiatives where I can make a difference (currently providing Marketing support to an international development agency, and acting as a Board Member for an environmental action group).

Once home, I hang out with my kids, talk about the best parts of the day and the challenges we faced. We enjoy a family dinner and get set for an even better tomorrow.

A good typical day sees me move things forward and make a contribution, with the backdrop of nurturing the most important relationships in my life.

What are you glad to have a background in?

Facilitation. It’s a skillset that I call upon all the time, in all kinds of settings. It happens without thinking now! Leading social impact and sustainability requires building buy-in, understanding each other’s priorities and finding shared goals. It requires patience and determination. Understanding the art of facilitation has helped tremendously.

What does social impact at ecobee mean?

Social impact at ecobee is about taking action. I’ve been working in environment since day one of my career and transitioned from nonprofit to a corporate setting. It’s the same in many ways to my ENGO days: identifying issues we can impact, defining an action we can take, building stakeholder networks, and reaching out to audiences who to join us. And there’s also the added lens of delivering business results. At ecobee, the vision is that a commitment to social impact and sustainability isn’t just about living our values, but that it will also deliver better business practices. For example, creating new revenue streams, saving money, as well as strengthening our brand.

What do you think the most important skills/qualities/knowledge a person working in impact should have?

To be successful in this work, a person needs to be able to see – and stay focused on – the long term, and still execute the immediate actions that need to happen. Qualities I cherish are tenacity, perseverance, flexibility and a natural enthusiasm and passion for the work.

In terms of skills, I think problem-solving, relationship building and communications are key. This work takes people skills hands-down.

Finally, you need to be an avid and continuous learner. But knowledge isn’t enough. You need to be attuned to the science though you don’t need to be a scientist. You need to be part of the movement, though you don’t need to be an activist. You need to be conscious of the work and the efforts of all the stakeholders out there. You need to see yourself as a contributor and a participant.

Do you have a work/life philosophy?

The journey is the reward. Every choice matters. Aim high, always.

 

Like what Fatima has to say? You can work with her. She’s currently hiring a Social Impact Campaign Manager – apply here

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