Green.org sat down with Shirley Ben-Dak, CEO & Founder of Bird Eye Consulting, which provides Project Management, Strategic Advisory & Business Development for Impact and sustainable companies, to learn Shirley’s passion for the intersection of environmental management and entrepreneurship.
Tell us a little bit about you and your background:
I’m originally from Israel and currently based out of NYC. My career follows my first passion which is really positioned at the intersection of environmental management and entrepreneurship. After completing an MSc. in Sustainability Management from Columbia University, I dedicated my professional focus to the smart city and smart water space, where I have worked for more than a decade with experience collaborating with the public, private and non-profit sectors for increased impact.
What is a fun fact about you?
I used to be a competitive chess player in the United States and abroad. My friends called me to ask if The Queen’s Gambit was based on my life 😉
Why do you think climate change and sustainability is such an important topic today?
It is the topic of not just today, but everyday moving forward. Back when I studied Sustainability Management (graduated in 2014), it was not top of mind and I consider myself and my classmates part of this ‘early adopter’ movement to ensure this became more mainstream across all outlets. Today it has become more prominent (especially when disasters strike and emergency situations make the headlines) and not only for those involved in environmental management out of passion and need, but also as a social, business, and governmental imperative from varying perspectives and demands. We see this across social, health, investment, financial, and other verticals. We need to ensure we make significant progress on on both sides of the mitigation and adaption efforts and also help move from reaction to proactive approaches (when feasible).
What do you envision your industry looking like 10 years from now?
10 years from now, specifically in the smart water and smart city space, I think we will see a move towards more data-driven based decisions and less assumptions. I’d love to see technology adoption levels increase, but this was also be dependent on the utility management structures and private sector examining varying business models to ensure this is feasible and fit for wallet, purpose and sustainability, especially with the fast pace of technology.
When it comes to city operations or in the case of water utilities, cross-departmental collaboration and the ability to securely and affordably work with external partners (engineering firms, technology vendors, etc.) will be key.
What can the average person do to make a difference?
It starts with education and finding verified environmental resources to ensure you are making decisions based on factual information. For example on the drinking water consumption side, asking yourself what is the real reason you as an individual continue to buy bottled water? Do you not feel your tap water is safe to drink? Is this based on actual facts or just a ‘feeling’?