We’ve celebrated and shared stories of several of our team members here on the MASS Blog over the past several months. Today, we are featuring our team member who is actually the writer of this blog itself. Heather Varner, our Special Projects Manager, answers 5 Questions about MASS & her role here with our team. Happy reading!
Q1. If you could describe a ‘day-in-the-life’ for you at MASS in just three words, what would they be?
Expect The Unexpected.
I say this, because every day is different. The variety that comes with my role as Special Projects Manager keeps things very exciting, and while this can be crazy at times it is always worth it. One day, I may find myself completing on-site education sessions for a hospital or a university; working with their staff to become more active recyclers. The next day, I might be compiling a cost-savings report for a client; quantifying for them their success through the MASS methodology. Some days you can find me supporting our Waste Audit Team, and on others, I am holed in up in our webinar room providing online education to our valued clients. I write blog posts, run our social media accounts, and complete internal staff education. I love working in a position where every day is different, because this allows me to have a positive impact in so many unique and exciting ways.
Q2. What has been the most rewarding moment of your work with MASS so far?
At MASS, we always say that we have a vested interest in the success of our clients. In that sense, their accomplishments are our accomplishments. This past summer, I completed an education series with our Waste Audit team prior to a set of annual audits for a client in the restaurant industry. At the end of the audits, their reports were compiled and I was ecstatic to see that their results had increased significantly. We are now working with them on implementation of organics programs for a number of their locations to divert food-waste from landfill, and I am so excited about supporting them in taking this next step forward. Without fail, anytime one of our clients achieves something positive like this, I am filled with pride in the work that we do.
Q3. How have you changed since working for MASS?
When I first came to MASS, it was my second career position after university, and I was still very unsure of what my path would be. I was excited for the opportunity to work for a company that was making a difference, but I had no idea what exactly my future with the company would entail. Now, I look back with immeasurable gladness for each opportunity the company has given me. I’ve been able to learn so much through my work at MASS and develop both on a personal and professional level.
I’ve always been a an advocate for the environment, and I believe a big part of this can be contributed to being raised with a deep respect for nature and the great outdoors. Since coming to MASS, and learning everything I have within the waste and recycling industry, I’ve become very big on an ‘applicable next steps focus.’ By this, I mean that when I am looking for strategies on how to be more environmentally friendly, I want them to be applicable, specific, and tangible items. When working with clients, I try to utilize this approach. I find this helps people to feel empowered and capable of taking responsibility over their own environmental footprint. So much of the messaging out there today about our environment is very ‘big picture thinking,’ which while incredibly valuable, can also be intensely overwhelming. I like to break things down into ‘bite-sized target actions’ that are possible to implement and apply on a daily basis.
Q4. What is it like working in a family business?
I might have a slightly unique answer on this question, because what many of our readers may not realize is that I am actually a soon-to-be member of the Brown family! In May 2019, I will be marrying Mac Brown, our Waste Audit Manager, the son of company founders, George and Marnie. Mac and I met in 2012, while both of us were students at Mount Allison University. After completing my degree, I worked for a year in my hometown of Moncton, New Brunswick before coming out to Ontario where I started with MASS. For me, working in a ‘family business’ has also always meant working for my ‘in-laws-to-be.’
This is undoubtedly a unique situation, but also one for which I am incredibly grateful. It is so special and rare to work towards a common goal with a group of people who are a part of every element of your life. The family focus on waste reduction is not just a part of our office environment, but also, our home environment. We are all avid recyclers and committed composters. Our holiday dinners always involve discussion of waste diversion, mixed in with the regular family updates and typical conversation.
Being a part of a family business, means that I never have to concern myself with ‘Work-Life’ balance. ‘Work’ becomes about so much more than the day-to-day. It’s about the legacy we are building as a family. ‘ And ‘Life’ is about family, relationships, and strengthening those bonds. With these two focuses, ‘Work’ and ‘Life’ create an incredible amalgamation that gives so much meaning to everything we do.
I was raised in an incredibly close-knit family, and this is something I’ve always wanted to continue to be a part of my life as I grow. I am glad that I get to work in a business where this value underlines absolutely everything we do. We always say that we are working to leave behind a healthy and thriving earth for the next generation, and I can’t think of anything more important for a family to work towards, than that.
Q5. At MASS, we always say “Change Begins With Just One Step.” What does this mean to you, and what role does it play in your life?
I love this motto and use it often with our clients. So often, people can feel overwhelmed in the face of climate change, and this is a great way to remind them that every single one of us holds power. Whether it’s bringing your own reusable coffee mug with you (starting TODAY!), saying ‘no thank you’ to a plastic straw at a restaurant (starting TODAY!), or bringing reusable bags to the grocery store (starting TODAY), we each have to take responsibility for our own environmental footprint. Each of these small impacts truly do matter.
I often encourage our clients to ask themselves the question “What can I do differently today?” and use that as their starting point to begin making a difference. I ask myself this same question nearly every morning, and not just when it comes to waste diversion. In any area of our lives where we are trying to make a change, grow, or improve, this question can be an incredible way to make self-development possible.
Whether it’s an obstacle you are trying to overcome, a skill you are working to develop, a relationship you are trying to strengthen, or a habit you are trying to break – this question can kick-start incredible change in every area of your life. Change begins with JUST one step. One little step is ALWAYS possible. What will yours be today?
For more about Heather and the rest of our team, CLICK HERE. We are so grateful to each member of the extended ‘MASS Family’ for all that they do.