You'll just have to listen if you want to find out what this is all about.
(Full transcript of interview with Ian Faucher)
IAN: I'm heading a committee within kind of a political advocacy organization that's about sustainability. And one of my fellow executive board members for this organization kind of made this joke to me she's like well you know like I know, I know I should care about sustainability but I've just never been able to make myself care.
ZACH: Welcome to the Blu Skye podcast. I’m Zach Winter. Blu Skye is a strategy consulting firm that operates on the assumption that sustainability is ONLY business opportunity that is truly sustainable. Here at Blu Skye we get many more applications than we have job openings. In order to spotlight some of the amazing brains that reach out to us, I thought I would ask them some questions on the record. This podcast is an exploration of life as seen through the eyes, minds, and motivations of the people working to create a different kind of future. This week I talked with a job seeker about why sustainability is important to him, the importance of tiny behavioral changes, and why city kids don’t care.
IAN: My name is Ian Fauchet. I am a sophomore at Vanderbilt University originally from Boise in the great state of Idaho hoping to pursue a career in sustainability either in policy or in the corporate world.
ZACH: You know there isn't a job opening at Blu Skye, so what made you agree to talk to me right now?
IAN: I would say that there's a sense within the community of people who are interested in sustainability and dedicating their careers to sustainability. There's a sense of purpose and I think I think that you know in other industries if someone wasn't looking to hire they probably wouldn't really care about what their applicants have to say because it's not that you know it's not that dynamic of a field but I think in sustainability people are really trying to make changes.
And so just the opportunity to get a sense of what you're all about what blu skye is all about. You know whether or not I can be a part of that at least I know you know what people are doing and that gives me a better sense going forward of what I might be interested in what I might be able to do. I think there's a lot of information out there about a lot of career paths but there's not as much information out there about you know if you are a person with you know some scientific background and some people skills what what can you do to make a positive impact on sustainability in a in a big way. And I think the sense that the sense that you might be able to provide a perspective on that inspired me to talk to you.
ZACH: Awesome. Thanks so much for doing it of course and specifically a like about sustainability consulting or other values based work. What about that is attractive to you?
IAN: Well so I grew up in Boise Idaho and which is, we like to call it one of the most one of the most remote urban areas in the country. It's a solid six hour drive from any other city, so, I grew up in a city but I grew up kind of in the heart of the wilderness and in a bigger sense that I could drive half an hour and just be in the middle of nowhere. And for me that that became a very central part of my worldview. Just knowing that those beautiful places were out there and so close to me. And then I came to Nashville to go to school at Vanderbilt. And most of my classmates are not not from places like I am from they're from Chicago and New Jersey and New York. And you know big urban areas and don't didn't have the access that I had. And so I didn't... I knew sustainability was important to me. But I didn't know that it was so it was so unique to my to my background. And so as soon as I realized that I think I felt like I did. There wasn't anything else that I felt such a purpose with, you know. And then bringing that that understanding and that appreciation of the natural world to large organizations because I'm around a lot of people that you know have high aspirations in the corporate world. And I want to make sure that those people who I know are incredible and I know we're going to do great things. I want to make sure that you know as my peers they also understand that there's an obligation to the earth that I that I see and that I'd like them to understand just from being my friends and my peers here.
ZACH: Yeah. Did you have - was there a spear in the chest moment? Did you did you wake up with an idea one day or was it just gradual?
IAN: This is a very strange spear in the chest moment but there was one day I went to I was with three of my closest friends people I had people I absolutely love and one of my one of my closest friends went to a little convenient store on campus and she used her meal swipe to get three bottles of Dasani water. at home like someone would have been shamed so so thoroughly for that you know like you know everybody had a Nalgene you know covered in stickers for ski hills and you know I ended up I was like man I am somewhere where people are buying three three bottles of disposable bottles of water with their meal swipe. And you know it sounds ridiculous but it was it was very like it was kind of was a serious moment for me because I was like you know these people you know are from a very different perspective than I am from. And I think that that that's probably the most unique thing that I bring that I bring to my day to day discussions and my day to day interactions with people that I have just this innate sense of you know like do not waste reduce-reuse-recycle all these things that I that other people here but don't become part of their world view. And I just I think that was that was a yeah transformative moment for me and in a weird way because it it just made me feel different in a way that that I thought I could I could make use of and make make change with.
ZACH: That's a great answer. I enjoyed it. You know it's a it's a tiny thing. But yeah it shows you your level of awareness and passion about it and
IAN: it really was bizarre. I don't know.
ZACH: Not what I expected and better than expected. Good good good. So that's a good time and I think they might ask my next question is related you know what is more important to a global transformation. In your opinion at least is it that local level change like getting people to stop buying three water bottles or is it more of a policy shift that's needed.
IAN: That is a big question in my life right now and that's a lot of the reason why I've been researching companies and why I’d love the opportunity to work just in different in different fields within within sustainability because I can I can see it in both ways. I actually, I applied for and just was chosen to go to D.C. with about 15 Vanderbilt students and my application was all about how I'm interested in climate policy and would love to learn this program that Vanderbilt does is about how science is actually used in the day to day creation of policy. And so my application I talked about how I would love to see how science is applied to climate policy because I think there's such a big disconnect between our environmental policy and the science that's out there and I really do think that policy has a huge amount of potential and can make huge amounts of change. But at the same time at home I didn't feel in Boise, I really didn't feel like a cultural shift was the way to go because people were already you know driving Priuses and putting putting solar on their house and all these things. But as I as I travel around I spent a lot of time you know away from home and I think that most of this country there just is not, There's not a strong environmental sense at all and that's not part of people's world view. And so I guess, I don't know which one would be more transformational. I want to be involved in whichever one is more transformational but I can see I can see either of them making such a huge difference because you know at Vanderbilt there are policy changes that the university has looked at but also you know there are all sorts of just small cultural things that have not that have not been put into effect yet. You know people people don't think about waste as they go about their day to day lives and I really think that you know it would be a substantive change just at this campus if they did. And if you apply that to the state of Tennessee which again you know isn't from my experience as environmentally conscious as the Western states that I've spent a lot of time in and then those are big changes.
ZACH: So I don't know I guess I can see it being but you know I'm asking questions that I do not know the answer to. So yeah I wish I did. What's what do you think the biggest barrier is to this transformation or a truly sustainable planet or however you want to name it.
IAN: I think this is something that I was thinking about recently I had a conversation where I'm heading a committee within kind of a political advocacy organization that's about sustainability and one of my fellow executive board members for this organization kind of made this joke to me she's like well you know like I know I know I should care about sustainability but I've just never been able to make myself care. And I think that's that's an attitude that a lot of people have just that it's not something that's that's all that immediate to them. And I think that that's a huge obstacle that needs to be overcome. And I guess my experience has been that my environmental awareness came directly from just being in beautiful places and doing amazing things in beautiful places. And it's hard you know. So. I naturally would say well the solution to making people care is to show them a beautiful place like that and to make them care about a place that that sense of place is important. But I mean I can't I can't get every single one of my friends here to go backpacking in the Tetons with me, you know. So how how you communicate that sense of caring about place and sense of caring about the world I think is, I think is huge because if someone grows up you know as most of my friends here at school did, if someone goes up and in a big city and you know doesn't doesn't do those things. I think it is hard for them to care. And so overcoming that overcoming that gap I think is it is a huge question.
ZACH: Right. So, you know in line with that and we're talking about behavior change what's a personal thing you that you've had and then changed within the last year.
IAN: So about a year ago I started my freshman year of college and I came in considering myself considering my social ability and my people skills as one of my main strengths and that was something that really differentiated me in high school is that I knew everybody. And I think that as I transition to life here at Vanderbilt, I started recognizing that you know there there were a lot of extremely social people here. And my strengths probably were not in what were not just in my people skills that a lot of people have those but that it was more in my passion about a few about a few really important issues. So that was you know that's not necessarily an opinion or values based thing but that was just a fundamental way of fundamental change in the way I see myself that I became more of an issues driven person than just a personality driven person.
ZACH: Nice. And what do you want to do with that. Like what is your dream job.
IAN: That is a tough question. And I think it goes back to your question about what what's the bigger solution. Is it cultural or is that policy level for environmental issues. At this point I'm very confident that my dream job is in the field of environmental sustainability. But I guess the big question for me is where can I make a bigger difference. I am interested in law school I'm interested in environmental law and creating policy. I think that be incredible. But at the same time, there's a there's definitely a good argument to be made for the idea that corporations have maybe a bigger a bigger role and just culturally speaking you know changing the way people look at it and the way corporations look at the environment might be a more foundational change than than changing the policy. So I guess that's the question that I'll be wrestling with. Luckily I have a few more years and that's why you know that's why I'm pursuing internships at places like Blu Skye is that I want to get a sense of where can my skills be put to better use so either it would be a you know dream job would be either as a chief sustainability officer or something for a big company or in the in the policy in the policy sphere. But I guess that that answer depends on where I find the most change being made.
ZACH: Yeah I mean from what I can tell you doing the right things to work towards that. Last question. Do you have any projects you want to plug or any last thoughts you want to share?
IAN: One thing that I've thought about recently. I thought a lot about, is that I ended up working for my my hometown of Boise doing urban planning in the last over the last summer and thinking a lot about sustainability as it relates to how do we build our cities and how do we build a culture of bike transit and walking transit and just changing the ways changing the ways we live. And then I, since that was the opportunity I had a kind of I kind of parlay that into an opportunity here at Vanderbilt working on the campus master plan so I'm doing the same thing where you know trying to look at, how does how does sustainability play into the long term goal and how does how does the built environment relate to sustainability for organizations. So that's just something that I have found extremely, extremely interesting is how do we build communities to to encourage to encourage behavior and that is that is more environmentally sustainable. So that's what I'm that's what I'm working on right now and I think that's a cool connection to all sorts of sustainability fields that I'd like to keep looking at and keep pursuing as I get older.
ZACH: Awesome. Two pieces of media came up for me when listening to you speak. They're both I'm assuming you're familiar with already but I want to mention them to make sure one is 99 Percent Invisible. Amazing podcast design focused. Sometimes sustainability focused. The other thing is Emergence. Have you read Emergence?
IAN: I have not. That’s a book?
ZACH: It is a book by Steven Johnson and it is essentially directly about what you were just talking about designing spaces to be more like ants and brains. And you know encourage interaction of people on the street and on and on and on.
ZACH: Yeah. And that's the book highly recommended as well.
IAN: All right I'll check up the TED talk as soon as I'm done talking to here. Beautiful. I'm in the book after that.
ZACH: This has been super fun talking to you. I think you know exactly what I'm going for is getting ideas from people and hopefully sharing those ideas with everyone else.
IAN: Yeah. Yeah. Well I hope it's useful. Yeah obviously if you have any follow ups or anything I'd be glad to chat again.
ZACH: Amazing. Yeah let's stay in touch.
IAN: OK. Sounds good.
ZACH: Thanks so much and great to talk to you. Have a good one.
ZACH/IAN: Bye. bye. bye. byeeeeeee.
ZACH: If you want to hire Ian, just talk to him, or find out more about him, head to the Blu Skye website. Thats b-l-u-s-k-y-e .com There you will find a full transcript of this interview, as well as a link to his resume. Thanks for listening to the Blu Skye podcast. See you next time.