The essential journey.

Aligning professional life and personal values

by Marie-Christine Gagnon

When I was 10 years old, I convinced my best friend to walk through the forest behind our houses to clean it of its rubbish. So we set off with our big black garbage bags and gloves, in our heads we became the green brigade of our favourite playground. We found all kinds of objects there; tires, glass bottles, plastic bags. Our parents were very proud of us and they guided us in the management of all our bags.

My greatest despair was to find a makeshift dump in a sand pit filled with old carpets, building materials and scrap metal. In my small village in the Saguenay, and as in many others, people went to carry their old debris into the woods out of habit.  

We realized that the task was too heavy and dangerous for our little arms of 10-year-old children. And that's when I asked myself: why don't we all seem to have the same protective view of our natural environments?

I grew up and then I left my region, I came to study and settle in Montreal. I realized my dream of working in advertising. I dreamed of changing the world by creating the best ads. The idea of having an impact on people's consumption attracted me. I thought that's how change would happen. Everywhere I went, I was trying to change practices to make them a little better for the environment. 
After almost 10 years in this field, I asked myself the question: how can I have a more positive impact as an individual? All the challenges I encountered, and sometimes value conflicts, have reinforced my desire to return to my roots. The one in me that dreamed of a healthier world took over. I returned to study sustainable development, a brief but inspiring course, where I realized that my work and my values could finally become one.

When I first spoke to Maxime, the founder of Atelier, I realized that I could now combine all my experience in communications with my deep desire to change the world positively. At Atelier, that's what we do, we help companies re-imagine themselves to better integrate into their social and environmental ecosystem. Because yes, I am one of those people who believe that the industry has the greatest leverage for impact.
What I take away from this long detour that I took to find my place is that it is never too late to get closer to its values and contribute to a better fate for our living environment.