The Business of Sustainability

Erica, Cover Photo

Erica Sequoia Baker  I  Business Administration  I  Sustainability 

Class of 2022 |  First Generation College Student  I  Hemet, California

A Passion for the Planet and PlayStation

I am most passionate about the environment and finding ways that large corporations can turn the current state of our planet around. A former hobby of mine was working on my 1981 jaguar xj6. However, with the relocation for my job to San Francisco, I had to sell it. I have always been an active gamer and will always be a dedicated PlayStation fan. 

Changing the Course 

I originally chose business administration as my major because I was unsure of where to go in my career choice. However, I chose to take SUS 103 which was an introduction to climate change. This course changed my perspective and gave me a passion that I wanted to find out more about. I told my partner about the course, and later that week saw a flyer for sustainability as a double degree. I was instantly intrigued and asked my counselor to help me begin this process. I knew that having both of these degrees would allow me to help change and/or improve the planet through corporations. 

Auditing AutoZone

This major gave me an opportunity to become an environmental auditor for AutoZone. I started at AutoZone as a part time red shirt and eventually promoted to management. I decided to reach out to the safety department in search for a job in the environmental field. There was one opening position and my major qualified me for the position. I am now 1 of 2 environmental auditors for AutoZone. We are paving the way in the automotive industry and hoping to expand our team size. I cover around 350 stores from Portland, Oregon, down to Bakersfield, California. I contribute this career and opportunity to the knowledge that this major has given me. 

Dining with Research

A hands- on experience I got from this department was a research opportunity with the Oregon State Dining Hall Service. I was told about this opportunity by my sustainability counselor. This research required me to write and research about the life cycle of our Eco2Go program containers. The main objective was to determine if they truly made an impact in our community and justify bringing them back after the pandemic. I still use this knowledge and skill in my career. I am now working alongside AutoZone to track the life cycle of many products we supply in our stores. 

Breaking Boundaries

I have faced three main challenges in my educational and professional development. The first challenge stemmed from not having help with how to navigate the academic world. My parents had never gone to college and the financial situation we faced was challenging and unpredictable. Luckily, by asking for help many staff pointed me to programs that could help educate me about available choices. This gave me the opportunity to lower my costs and helped me plan better for my academic success. The next challenged I faced was in the work place. Being a female in the automotive industry is not easy. No matter what department you may be in, women in a male dominated industry are often faced with bias and overlooked. I decided to not only educate myself in the automotive world, but I also found other women in the industry from coworkers to management that helped me navigate through these biases. Education and networking allowed me to show others in the industry that I was worthy and prepared to advance in my career. The other challenge came with my age. Being 22 and being promoted to a position that involves teaching, auditing, and presenting comes with its challenges. Being the youngest in my field, many did not take me seriously. However, demonstrating my knowledge and passion for what the job requires has helped me prove why I am an asset and has given me credibility and trust with those I work with.