Adrienne Lo. Head of Living Planet @ Work At WWF-Canada. MBA with a Non-Profit Job.

Adrienne’s meaningful job has the perfect combination of purpose and impact. Adrienne shows us how it only takes one moment to realize you were destined for greater things. Since that moment she’s been on a career path that’s taken her from healthcare to working to help save the environment. In her role with Living Planet @ Work, WWF’s employee engagement initiative, Adrienne is promoting environmental awareness and developing environmental stewards within Canadian businesses.  Adrienne’s professional credentials allows her to speak the business language that is so essential when pitching to the corporate partners that are key to making long-term environmental change. Believing in herself and in WWF’s mission helps Adrienne make a difference in the world- but as she tells us, you have to be patient with seeing the results.

How do you define meaningful work?
When you feel like you are making a difference in the world around you.

When did you know you wanted to pursue a meaningful career?
While completing my undergraduate degree I took a mindless summer job at a telecom company processing payments. Each day my job consisted of opening envelopes, entering data and processing numbers. It was mind numbing. I knew at that point that there had to be more to a job and that I wanted to make a difference.

Describe your career path to your current meaningful job?
After undergrad, I landed a job in healthcare working in clinical research. After three years, I went back to school to do my MBA. When I graduated, there was a posting for a job at WWF, and with a bit of luck and good timing, I got the job. I’ve been working there for three and a half years now and have been able to move up the organization from Corporate Engagement Officer, to Manager to now leading the employee engagement program.

What courses did you take in university that helped you the most?
Psychology- helped with understanding what it takes to create behaviour change, which is really important in my field. It also helped me understand what motivates people, including myself. Pursuing an MBA helped me understand organizations and how they work, which is extremely valuable as I work with a lot of corporate partners.

What’s one thing you wish someone told you before you pursued a meaningful job?
You have to be comfortable with ambiguity. Things are always changing, so you have to be okay with that and to an extent be excited by it. A non-profit career is not for everyone and there is not always immediate gratification with what you do. Working on environmental issues, you can’t always see the immediate impact, so you have to be comfortable with the small incremental wins and believe that you are contributing to something greater in the long-term. 

Know what you believe in and believe that you can make a difference.

What’s the one thing most people wouldn’t expect to hear about working in a meaningful job?
That we’re all not tree huggers ☺ I didn’t realize, until I came to WWF, how important businesses are to making meaningful change and how beneficial corporate partnerships are. There is a lot more collaboration than I thought there was and we truly can’t achieve our goals without businesses at the table.

What is a typical day like?
My work is based on relationships. So there is a lot of meetings, discussing ideas and pitching WWF to companies. I do a lot of strategy and research on businesses, CSR values, and other trends in corporate donations. I also work very closely with different groups within WWF – so I might be running from different meetings with the marketing, digital, major gifts and fundraising teams.

What piece of advice would you give someone looking to get a meaningful job?
Know what you believe in, and believe that you can make a difference. If you are interested in the CSR sector, be focused. For example if you really believe in partnerships – show and demonstrate your expertise in this area when you apply, don’t come across that you can do everything. Do your homework in your application and for your interviews.  Don’t try to wing it, you can see through people who don’t have a genuine interest in the cause or who haven’t done their research. People can see through that, but true passion is really hard to fake. Last, be prepared to work hard. Just because it is a meaningful job doesn’t mean that you get to coast through, in fact, you might even have to work even harder, but it’s worth it on a whole different level.

What qualities are important for a person to have if they want a meaningful job?

Three things:
1. Be comfortable with ambiguity
2. Self-awareness
3. Confidence in yourself that you are the right person for the job

If you could have one super hero power what would it be and why?
I would want to be able to help people envision the future of the world more than a year or two down the road. People have a hard time visualizing the future and imagining what the earth could look like 10-20 years later. It would be incredibly helpful from an environmental perspective to see where we are headed and perhaps this would be people’s wake-up call to making change.


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  1. Joyanne
    March 18, 2014 at 6:30 pm — Reply

    I enjoyed reading this perspective. Great insights and advice. I like the point about having patience and recognizing the incremental wins. It’s great to hear stories of people who work with purpose and long-term vision!

    • March 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm — Reply

      Thanks Joyanne! Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Adrienne
    March 21, 2014 at 10:21 pm — Reply

    Hi Joyanne – thanks for your kind and encouraging words – it’s so inspiring and motivating to get to know others who share similar hopes for our future! A good reminder that we’re all connected, and that working to change things for the better “is a marathon, not a sprint”! 🙂

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