Zeynep Kucukerol’s passion for sustainability brought her from Turkey, where she studied industrial engineering, to UBC Sauder where she used a Master of Management to launch a career in green technologies.
When Zeynep Kucukerol started her engineering career in Turkey she knew she wanted to join a progressive company that cared about the environment as much as she did.
But it was tough to find work in this field in her home country. And looking at the job scene abroad, she realised she’d need to go back to school.
“To shift my career away from core engineering I needed a business skill-set that would both build upon my background and open doors into the niche area I wanted to be in,” she says.
Originally from Ankara, Turkey, Kucukerol discovered her passion for sustainable business during a semester she spent abroad in Germany while pursuing her undergraduate degree.
“That’s where I also realised how much I value international experience - it broadened my perspective,” she says.
When Kucukerol started researching masters programs in North America she found UBC Sauder’s Master of Management (MM) a perfect fit in terms of its location in a city dedicated to green initiatives, and a program that offered substantial consulting experience.
“The Community Business Project in the MM caught my eye,” she says. “I liked that it let you jump into the business world, and apply your new skills to see how your efforts can make a difference,” says Kucukerol. “It was inspiring to be able to create change at a not-for-profit social enterprise; it’s invaluable experience.”
For their five-month Community Business Project, Kucukerol led her group in creating a volunteer recruitment campaign for the Oiled Wildlife Society of BC, working with multiple stakeholders from government agencies, to professional wildlife responders to maximize the protection of wildlife in the event of an oil spill.
During the MM program’s final Capstone Project, Kucukerol worked with an outdoor children’s gear company called MyMayu, which she cites as one of the most transformational components of the program. Once again, she acted as project lead.
“We developed a social media marketing plan to increase MyMayu’s brand awareness, gain new customers and boost their sales,” Kucukerol says. Not only did she and her team earn first place for their work, but the experience she gained proved directly relevant to her career.
“The types of research and strategizing we did for them are actually quite similar to what I'm doing in my job right now,” she says. “It was helpful to have that experience before I started my professional career."
Now, Kucukerol works at Solegear Bioplastic Technologies, which makes environmentally friendly plastics out of renewable, compostable material like corn.
“Vancouver is a great place to jumpstart your career if you care about sustainability because the green tech industry is evolving so fast here,” she says.
Kucukerol’s marketing role requires her to stay on top of industry trends, liaise directly with clients and oversee the company’s social media presence.
“I’m constantly building upon the skill set I developed at UBC Sauder’s Robert H. Lee Graduate School,” she says. “As I’m developing my career in sustainable technologies and starting to specialize in social media marketing, I’m finding there are more paths opening up in front of me.
“I owe that to my MM.”