Shahin Hirji: Building Sustainability into the Life Cycle of Projects

Shahin Hirji

Shahin Hirji was looking for a program that would help combine her passion for sustainability with her career experience in the mining industry in a way that was practical, hands-on and diverse. She chose the Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability at the University of St. Michael’s College.

“I think the program is an excellent way to learn about the principles, vocabulary and landscape of sustainability in a relatively short period of time while providing enough of a foundation and practical tools to set you up on a life-long journey of learning and exploration,” she says. “I was very impressed by the breadth of the program, which was reflected in the many different facets of sustainability that were covered, the experience, knowledge and generosity of the faculty, and dynamic nature of the program.”

Today, Hirji, who is a principal consultant at Distill Consulting, is one of the winners of the 2020 President’s Capstone Project Award for her summative project, which won in the category of Social and Environmental Impact.  Break with Tradition examines a disconnect in the mining industry that considers questions of sustainability post-design rather than building sustainability into the life cycle of projects.

Among the lessons she will take away from the program are “the concepts of slow knowledge, systems thinking and understanding that transformational change requires perseverance will stay with me for a long time.”

And as for applying those skills, she says they are used daily, whether professionally, in her role as a volunteer, or in terms of personal enrichment.

“I’ve already started applying what I’ve learned in my professional life, and it’s begun to shape and direct my focus in my volunteering activities,” she says. “The program has also really enhanced my understanding of sustainability and I find myself incorporating many of the philosophies that I’ve learned in my personal life and in my decision-making.”

Visit the Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility and Sustainability’s Fall Convocation 2020 page to learn more about this year’s graduates and to celebrate their unique achievement.