Caustan De Riggs

Caustan DeRiggs: young black man leaning casually forward with hands crossed, wearing a blue checkered shirt
Caustan DeRiggs, Owner, CDEM Leadership Development /Coordinator, Outreach & Job Development, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. BES '08, Environment & Business.

Caustan’s entrepreneurial journey began even before his undergraduate career. He founded “Caustan De Riggs Entertainment and Leadership” now known as “CDEM Leadership Development” in 2002 as an umbrella for his efforts as a coach, motivational speaker, entertainer and producer. 

As an undergrad in the Environment and Business program, Caustan was a Frosh Week Leader, Secretary and Vice President of the Environment and Business Student Society, a member of the University of Waterloo Senate and Board of Governors and was voted class Valedictorian. On a coop term in his second year, he conceived and drafted a plan to integrate principles of environment and business into the education system of the country of Grenada, later presenting it and gaining approval from the country’s Prime Minister. Post-graduation, Caustan was invited back to the small island nation to lead the first International Conference on Green Entrepreneurship. The program targeted the top 100 student leaders in Grenada and Trinidad and 20 business organizations, focusing on inspiring youth to create a sustainable environment and economic future through education, networking, and mentorship. 

In 2009 Caustan joined Free the Children/Me to We and toured Canada and the United States, giving presentations to over 30,000 youth about the tragedy in Darfur and inspiring and supporting local action. In 2010 Caustan’s career story was featured in the book “Green Careers – You Can Make Money and Save the Planet” by Jennifer Power Scott, profiling how he leveraged his talents as an entertainer and entrepreneur to build a career as a motivational speaker.

For the past three years Caustan has continued to support his business while also working full time with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority’s Professional Access and Integration Enhancement (PAIE) program, helping internationally trained engineers and geoscientists find employment in Canada. Along with his daily work helping clients navigate the difficult learning curve of doing business in Canada, Caustan developed sustainability strategies that leverage charitable donations to cut the costs of expensive technical training and developed a pilot for an interactive eLearning program to help professionals start technical skills before moving to Canada, thus reducing their learning curve.

On top of his professional work, Caustan also finds time to volunteer in the community offering career counseling to the underprivileged. He also served as part time editorial assistant for Motivated Magazine.

In March 2013, Caustan was invited to be a Ted Speaker for TedxYouthWaterloo. A quote from his rhyme filled talk sums up Caustan’s philosophy perfectly “ True entrepreneurship is both learning and giving back. Career success by helping others; that’s a business fact.”

Caustan is a 2013 Faculty of Environment Young Alumni Award Nominee.