Inside BSR is our monthly series featuring BSR team members around the world. This month, we connected with Melissa Do, an Associate based in our San Francisco office. Melissa chatted with us about the part Animal Planet played in her sustainability journey, her experience working with U.S. government entities, and her work on climate change.
Tell us a bit about your background. Where are you from, where are you based, and how have you been since the COVID-19 pandemic hit?
I was born and raised in New Jersey to Vietnamese immigrants. I came to the San Francisco Bay Area for school, where I completed my undergraduate and graduate studies in interdisciplinary environmental science and focused on biological, ecological, and biogeochemical systems. As many can attest to, the weather, people, and scenery make it difficult to leave the Bay Area once you’re here!
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve been fortunate to be able to spend a good part of 2020 hunkering down with family in Seattle. Working from home can have its challenges, but it’s been great getting some time back in my day by not having to commute to the office.
What issues are you passionate about and why? Does your work at BSR reflect that?
Growing up, one of the ways that my grandmother and I bonded together was through watching nature documentaries on Animal Planet. It was from there that the seeds of my deep respect for nature and animal conservation were planted.
That interest in the natural world led to my studies of and research on animal behavior and conservation at Oxford and in the Great Barrier Reef. Here, the themes of coexistence and cooperation arose, and they became foundational to my approach to life and work. I found myself asking: Where can I best apply these values and create the most value during my limited time on this uniquely fragile and majestic blue planet?
That’s what has led me to the climate work that I do at BSR where, from my little corner of the earth, I strive to inch toward more a stable climate with the businesses with which we work. It’s tough going sometimes, especially since the clock is ticking on sufficient global climate action, but I remain hopeful.
What are some interesting projects that you get to work on as part of your role at BSR? What do you enjoy about them?
I have been deeply involved with a few BSR climate collaborative initiatives, including Transform to Net Zero, and have worked on climate strategy and general sustainability management projects. Incubating, launching, and then implementing the work of collaborative initiatives is sometimes challenging, but it’s always interesting.
Observing companies working together pre-competitively to raise the floor on climate ambition has been a real highlight of my work at BSR. It has also been rewarding to work with companies from very different sectors in finding common ground and collaborating on climate action.
How did you get into working on sustainable business?
I started out my career as an environmental scientist. In this role, I worked closely with U.S. federal, state, and local government entities, assessing the environmental impacts of utility-scale renewable energy and infrastructure projects on sensitive environmental and social resources.
I observed the important work being done on the government side, but given the complex dynamics inherent in government work, the pace of action is naturally slower. I wanted to explore working with businesses, where there is more freedom to act quickly and innovate on sustainability, so I found myself at BSR!
I joined BSR in mid-2019 as an Associate and have been working closely with the Climate Change team and tech sector companies. In the Associate role, I can explore many different types of projects with companies of various sizes and sectors.
Coming from an interdisciplinary background, I try to view challenges and solutions holistically within the global ecosystem. The opportunity to work with a wide variety of companies has been a great learning opportunity to understand the synergies connecting all the actors in the broader business and sustainability landscape.
It has undoubtedly been a difficult year. What were the things that brought you joy amid lockdown? And what are you most looking forward to when the pandemic is over?
The extra time I had to hang out with my dog by working from home was super valuable and made the uncertainty and gravity of the pandemic a little less stressful. Whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so, I’m very much looking forward to traveling internationally again in the future!