Haskayne alumna Dr. Connie Van de Byl makes strides in sustainability community
Dr. Connie Van der Byl is a first-generation Canadian, born in Ontario to parents who emigrated from the Netherlands. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Applied Studies with Honours from the University of Waterloo and moved to the Netherlands for work having graduated during a recession. Fortunately for us, Connie relocated back to Canada for a gentleman she met at the end of university who she eventually went on to marry. She started working full-time at Nova, later TransCanada Pipelines, and subsequently pursued her MBA part-time through Haskayne, completing it within five years while growing her family. Connie is a proud parent to two ambitious daughters who are both enrolled in STEM-based university programs.
Upon completion of her MBA in 2003, Connie was forecasting natural gas demand for TransCanada and began to notice issues surfacing related to sustainability and energy. Reaching a critical juncture in her career, Connie decided to return to the University of Calgary as a full-time PhD student and began conducting academic research in energy management and sustainable development, specializing in corporate strategy. She began to address these growing complex issues, on both a practical and theoretical basis and has held an academic position at Mount Royal University since completing her doctoral studies in 2013.
Connie has made huge strides in the sustainability community and is now the Academic Director of the Institute for Environmental Sustainability at MRU. Her latest research includes a qualitative and comprehensive study of sustainability reporting best practices and stakeholder perceptions to better understand impact, especially in today’s constrained resource climate. The fundamental objective is to look at linking sustainability reporting to legitimacy and how stigmatized firms and industries, such as oil and gas and other extractives, might effectively use sustainability reporting to improve their legitimacy and reputation.
Connie has been involved with the SEDV program for the past seven years as a professor of Strategic Environmental Planning for Energy Organizations (SEDV623) and has been continuously impressed by the academic capabilities of students and their immense passion for improving environmental performance in the energy sector. She has also supervised the capstone project for half a dozen students. The best advice she can offer current and future students is to engage in research that is meaningful, properly manage the project scope and undertake a realistic workload. We wish her much success in her research and hope to see her back soon!