Sneha approached us in late February this year about the possibility of creating a Women in Sustainability Hub in New York City. After looking up her profile we got very excited – here was someone who would make WINS NYC really fly!
And then Covid19 hit. We had to quickly re-think how we could pivot online and still offer the ‘WINS’ experience enjoyed by so many ‘women in sustainability’ attending their Hub events in person. Expansion into the United States, we thought, would have to wait – but we didn’t reckon on Sneha’s passion and tenacity. So here we are, launching our very first WINS Hub for New York City!
To kick off, we thought you’d like to know a bit more about Sneha, her motivations and background, and her thoughts on why bring the Women in Sustainability Network to New York. Read on to find out more….
1. Tell us a little bit about your background – how did you get to where you are now?
I started my journey about a decade ago seeking my first professional job fresh from my academic studies and a Biology degree. I accidentally stumbled upon my first role as a Packaging Associate role in the cosmetic beauty industry whilst as I was actually pursing my interest in a career within a laboratory setting. That was the start of an ongoing learning journey focused around Packaging Development, and I gained more expertise through the various Packaging Innovation, Safety and Compliance, Strategic Planning roles which have led me where I am today.
I am currently in the CPG, Beauty Industry as a Packaging Sustainability SME where I am working on driving through sustainability planning, developing tools and training, and becoming an overall Packaging ‘go to expert’. I have been fortunate to be able to provide key insights on sustainability issues in our industry through various panel and speaker engagements. Undertaking a Sustainability Change Management course was very insightful and I continue to evolve and learn from engaging with many industry experts who are paving the way.
My deeper motivation and drivers were crystallised from a short volunteer experience a few years ago. Having been born and raised in Mumbai, India, when my spouse and I had an opportunity to volunteer through a local NGO in the slums there, I jumped at the chance. That experience was a profound reality check for me. Whilst I had known and saw what poverty was like in India when I lived there, I truly didn’t recognise it until I experienced it in such a hands on, immersive way.
2. What has been your biggest success to date in tackling sustainability issues as a packaging professional? And your greatest challenge?
To be honest, I don’t think I have achieved my biggest success yet. I believe I’ve made little strides to influence a few in their ways of thinking, to create change within their R&D organisations, businesses, or even personal lives. One of the largest hurdles as a Packaging Sustainability professional has been from a design standpoint. The increased cost of seeking sustainable alternatives has created bottlenecks. as have trying to increase the incorporation of all end to end environmental issues in design development to manufacture, use, and end of life for a specific product with lack of robust recycling waste infrastructure in many markets.
3. Why are you bringing the Women in Sustainability Network to New York City? What do you hope to achieve?
I am looking to bring Women in Sustainability to NYC because I am hoping to connect women, from diverse backgrounds, who are continuing to face challenges; who are seeking a common ground to share best practices and who are pushing the boundaries towards achieving UN 2030 SDGs. For me, it’s also about creating a community where we support and help shape future young women leaders. I am hoping to build a strong network where women are able to collaborate with transparency, and provide mentorship to younger women entering the field with similar professional aspirations.
4. What do you think is the biggest challenge right now to ‘women in sustainability’? What are your insights as to the best solutions for this?
One of the biggest challenges women are facing within the Sustainability field are lack of support within their respective area or organisation, gender equality to reach leadership levels, and inclusiveness. I truly believe this network will help bring us closer together, to tackle these issues through building realistic strategies that will be part of a future conversation.
5. What keeps you motivated and positive when things get tough?
What keeps me motivated is my passion to create a positive space for women, especially from the South Asian community, to collaborate, and to open opportunities to become change makers in their respective areas. I believe there a gap currently and I’m hoping to make a direct impact through the Women in Sustainability Network.
6. Tell us something surprising about you…
I’ve recently discovered that I’m quite creative — I enjoy sketching, cooking and have explored food photography.