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Learning to lead and growing the next generation of environmentalists | Meet Larissa Rose

While sitting in an economics class at Bond University, Larissa Rose registered the idea for her environmental consultancy business, GG Enviro – and with this, took the first step towards creating lasting change in Australia’s ‘green’ sphere. Since that monumental day in 2010 her business has only grown, and Larissa has established herself as a leader in this space, even winning the Kochie’s Business Builders competition in recognition of GG Enviro’s incredible work as a small business.

This success comes at the perfect time, as we seek out new ways to adapt and evolve in the face of climate change, global warming, natural disasters and more. Through their consultancy efforts in businesses and schools, GG Enviro are not only providing valuable advice on how to be more green, but are setting up solutions that will carry us into the future.

We asked Larissa all about her time learning at Bond, her career trajectory, the experience of founding GG Enviro, and her advice for eager students looking to take the environmental sector by storm.

How did you first come to study at Bond University?

I was working for a bioenergy organisation and one of my co-workers was completing a degree at Bond, and because of their experience at the University I felt inspired to do the same. This was at a time when I was transitioning careers, so to support this I decided to pursue a postgraduate certificate in carbon management, which I completed in 2010. This really came from a personal desire to shift careers and upskill in environmental management.

I saw Bond as a local and very reputable university that would let me specialise to focus on my passion, renewable energy. In 2012, I wanted to further explore my interest in biofuels, and so I enrolled in my Master of Sustainable Development and Environmental Management majoring in environmental studies, which I completed in 2014.

What was the most enjoyable part of the Bond experience for you?

I think what stands out to me most was the capacity every student has to leverage a huge range of opportunities, that are essentially all at your fingertips. I really ensured that I maximised the amount of internship and work experiences that I could undertake. I appreciate the connections Bond has given me, as it’s opened doors and given me the chance to work with companies in my chosen field. I also love the services offered by the Career Development Centre (CDC) and was highly motivated to make the most of these opportunities.

Another highlight of my time at Bond was winning a student fund grant that allowed me to travel to Singapore to attend a carbon conference in 2011 – an incredible experience!

Larissa Rose delivers a sustainability talk at a school in Townsville

How did your time at Bond set you up for your future endeavours?

One thing that’s boundlessly possible at Bond is the chance to build strong relationships and rapport with your lecturers and professors, and this has served me well throughout my career. Being a mature-age student when I began my studies meant that I was very intentional about building and stabilising my career goals, and mapping out how I could best reach them with the help of the people around me.

Creating these strong relationships excitingly led to more opportunities, and this isn’t an uncommon occurrence at Bond. I worked with a past environmental science student recommended by my professor at the time, Professor Daryl McPhee, on an environmental reporting project. This morphed into the first contract for my company, which spanned eight months.

My time at Bond was truly memorable, and laid the foundations for what my career is now. The statement ‘once a Bondy, always a Bondy’ definitely rings true, so much so that I’ve now taken on a position as an Adjunct Teaching Fellow for a climate change subject back at Bond!

Tell us a bit about your career trajectory.

In 2007, I was inspired to make a career change, and the catalyst was our local newspaper, if you can believe that! I was reading an article on the back of the Gold Coast Bulletin about a renewable energy company that was bringing Wave Movement Technology trials to the Gold Coast. I worked as a chef throughout my twenties before realising the strong calling I had for the sustainability and renewable energy sector. I decided a ‘game change’ of sorts would be the best decision for my own personal growth.

So, I founded my company shortly after. It was originally named Glowing Green Australia, but has recently undergone a fresh rebranding and is now known as GG Enviro. Now, I’m focused on continuing to build GG Enviro as an impactful and purposeful environmental consulting company. We don’t just aim to provide environmental solutions for others, but also to drive opportunities for the leaders of the future, giving them real-world insight and bridging the gap between coursework and the workforce.

Why did you decide to found GG Enviro?

The idea actually came to me in an economics class at Bond! I was sitting in Building 6, and decided to register the name and concept for my own environmental consultancy company. During the early stages of GG Enviro, I operated as a freelancer and ran the business like a side hustle. After seeing success, I expanded the company and built it up with a business framework, which formed the foundation of what GG Enviro is today.

A huge part of founding GG Enviro was the desire to create a lasting career for myself that could be flexible around my role as a full-time independent mother. I knew that having my own business meant I could be flexible and captain my own ship, so to speak, which in turn would allow me to be more present as a mother – attending school events, doing the school run and so on. Being my own boss has allowed me to navigate and achieve a very strong sense of work-life balance, which I think is really crucial to success in all areas.

What is GG Enviro, and what does it aim to accomplish?

My role is environmental consultant and director of GG Enviro. There are two different facets of our business model – the first being the environmental consultancy aspect, where we assist companies and businesses with bettering their sustainability practices and operations, and advise on the environmental impacts of these. We also help companies to ensure they’re meeting environmental legislation rules and regulations. The other side of GG Enviro is providing environmental education – it’s our aim to educate schools and businesses about their environmental footprint, and to help them through initiatives and programs around environmentalism.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

I’m a morning person, so I usually begin my day quite early with some form of movement – I am very active and enjoy surfing and running. Some mornings, it might be necessary for me to plan and map out projects to make my working day in the office more efficient, and to set myself up for success throughout the rest of the week, so I might spend some time doing this.

Then, I’ll prepare my kids’ school lunches – I’m a big believer in a nutritionally-dense breakfast. After the school drop-off, I spend my working hours in my Currumbin office delegating projects, engaging and liaising with clients, and proofreading reports. Of an evening, I like to recharge my batteries at home, prioritising family time and winding down with my kids.

Larissa with her team at GG Enviro

Can you tell us about the experience of winning Kochie’s Business Builders and how this has amplified your work at GG Enviro?

Being one of six winners (in all of Australia!) of the Kochie’s Business Builders competition has been incredibly valuable for myself personally, and for my business. Some of the benefits have included media exposure, support with scaling our business, and winning an incredible tech package for our office! From the win, we’ve also seen a flow-on effect leading to opportunities with Dell, including filming TV commercials with them for Channel 7, a feature on their global social media platforms, and being featured as one of the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) members.

Do you have any advice for students or graduates looking to break into the environmental sector?

A key piece of advice I have for students and graduates is to understand the importance of building a strong network. This might be connecting with industry leaders and experts through LinkedIn, or attending events that align with the industry and sector you want to enter. This will give you valuable exposure and a chance to meet people who might become peers or mentors along your journey.

I’m also a big believer in seeking work experience opportunities and undertaking internships. An exercise I take my interns through is identifying the top five companies and industry leaders you’d like to work with, and then, I support them through the process of meeting them and making it happen! It’s important to also have intentionality around every dream, goal and decision you make. Being purposeful with what you want to achieve post-university is crucial and will give you tangible goals to pursue.

As an employer, I’m big on confidence, emotional intelligence and open-mindedness amongst my interns and employees – so these are also worth cultivating. Identify your skillset early, so you have clarity around what you can offer to future employers.

You’re active in the mentorship space and regularly have interns from Bond. Why is educating and supporting the next generation of environmentalists and leaders so important to you?

I feel a deep and personal responsibility to help grow the leaders of the future in the environmental sphere. It’s so deeply rooted in my belief that I have a duty of care to this next generation. Through doing so, I’m also shaping and influencing the environmental sector.

I feel as if there is a need to better connect university coursework and real-life industry experience, so it’s my intention to bridge this gap as best I can – something Bond also supports through all of the work experience opportunities offered by the CDC. I’m incredibly passionate about developing not just students’ work skillsets, but their life sills, too, and their mindsets around self-ownership and awareness.

Any last words of advice for current and future Bondies?

Absolutely squeeze Bond like a sponge. There are so many incredible opportunities within the University, so be hungry for self-expansion and make the most of what Bond has to offer. Actively seek out events and chances to grow and learn promoted by the University, and ensure that upon completion of your degree, you can leave knowing you gave it a red-hot crack!

You can keep up to date with the amazing work Larissa and the team at GG Enviro are doing by following the company on Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.  

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