Mac Balacano

Struggling with a career? This alumn made his own in sustainability management

Mac Balacano

In recent conversation with the Globe and Mail, Martha Turner, vice-president of an education marketing firm, recognized that, “the landscape of careers is changing at a dramatic rate, even within the last five years.” In their estimation, demographics, climate change, energy resources, immigration, globalization, digital technology, big data and personalization are all major factors shaping the career landscape of the future.

Environment and Business alumnus Mac Balacano is living proof of this landscape change, having worked as a sustainability expert for some of Canada’s largest companies. Five years ago his job title barely existed. Today, he is the Sustainability & Environment Manager at MTS Allstream, in his hometown of Winnipeg, where he designs and manages the organization’s various sustainability and environmental initiatives.

In 2014 he helped produce MTS Allstream’s first Corporate Social Responsibility report and launched MTS’s new Wireless Device Recycling Program. Raising funds for MTS’s Future First program, the new Recycling Program supports the advancement of local Manitoba youth.

Along with the benefits of giving back to the local community, Balacano’s environmental efforts at MTS helped elevate the company’s “green” reputation- and this year the company was named one of the Top 50 Most Socially Responsible Corporations in Canada.

While there is always room for environmental improvements, Mac also believes in his professional development at MTS Allstream. “This position is very promising,” says Balacano, “I feel very fortunate to have gotten where I am, but it is with the support of my peers, faculty, my co-op experience and everything that I have learned at Waterloo.”

Balacano’s inspiring journey began in Waterloo’s Faculty of Environment. Balacano pursued a full course load that included Steve Young’s environmental management course, as well as courses dealing with environmental law.

These courses provided the practical and solid footing he needed to enter the workforce with confidence.

“I feel as if many of the Environment and Business courses were aimed at the topics we would be working with later in our careers,” Balacano says, “I am really pleased to have acquired that foundation.”

Balacano is effusive in his praise of Waterloo’s cooperative education program. As a co-op student working at BlackBerry he carved out a niche as a sustainability analyst where he was responsible for defining the “Design for Environment” strategies and driving their implementation into all Blackberry products and services.

Balacano’s job description also included the management of corporate relationships with governments and industry associations related to sustainability, and managing BlackBerry’s global environmental regulation requirements.

The Environment and Business grad also assisted in the implementation of the company’s first recycling program and performed the initial lifecycle analysis of various Blackberry devices.

Balacano’s, positions at both Blackberry and MTS Allstream, represent a fundamental shift in the job market for young people looking to carve out a career in sustainability.

The needs of large corporations are evolving. An emphasis on environmental stewardship and sustainable practices is critical to staying competitive in the marketplace, with customers and regulators demanding sustainability. This reality is here to stay. And it’s students like Balacano, who have forced the issue, by carving out an entirely new career niche, by leading them there.