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The sustainable solution designer

Chantal Beaudoin, BComm 05
November 6, 2023
By JP Karwacki, BA 11

A woman with light brown hair smiles in front of a blue-grey background. She is wearing a cream-coloured blazer.

From leading sustainability initiatives at 1,300 McDonald’s locations in the UK and Ireland to her current position as Partner and Head of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) at Knight Frank Investment Management, Chantal Beaudoin knows how to make big impacts on the health of our planet.

She began her more-than 20 years in the field volunteering as a researcher for Sustainable Concordia, which led to her being hired as the university’s first environment coordinator.

“I studied the university’s waste management, use of paper, and the building materials for the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex,” Beaudoin explains. “That led to a business case showing how the university could save money by improving each of those processes.”

Beaudoin now applies these same skills in designing solutions for both cost savings and tackling climate change as she oversees sustainability strategies for a real estate investment manager with £4.5 billion in assets across more than 200 properties.

Hurdles to a greener future

“Behavioural changes are the hardest part of what I do. ESG can cost more, be more time-consuming, and is more complex than the status quo. My work is about pricing the invisible, both the hidden costs that come from inaction in meeting net-zero ambitions and the expenditures involved in bringing my company’s sustainability investments to the level they need to be.”

Seeing around corners

“All industries are ripe for huge transformations right now. It’s exciting to work in the U.K. because this is where ESG isn’t a ‘nice-to-have,’ it’s a ‘must-have.’ I see pressure from clients, business leaders and government alike to see greater transparency and more impacts right now.”

Significant accomplishment

“I’m proud of the legacy and positive changes I’ve made across all the roles of my career, though McDonald’s switch from plastic to paper straws along with opening the world’s first Whole Life Net Zero Carbon hotel in London are some of my biggest, most tangible impacts.”

How to amplify impact

“It’s about working with people to educate and empower them to be ESG champions within their own organizations. It always takes collaboration, and if you give people the information, tools, inspiration, confidence and support they need, change can happen. It’s about igniting and keeping the flame alive.”

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