Haseena Charania is a Senior Sustainability Consultant with over a decade of experience in the sustainability space. Part of our US team, she specializes in communications, stakeholder engagement, and change management. We sat down with Haseena to get to know her on a deeper personal and professional level.
Tell us a bit about your story and what got you to where you are today.
Haseena Charania: I always start with my childhood and family background to give credit where it’s due. I’m an Indian-American from a single-parent family and I helped raise my younger sister. Interestingly, I went to an environmental science elementary magnet school in New York City (shout-out to P.S. 206 in Queens!) and then moved to the South for the second half of my childhood. With this dynamic upbringing, adapting and being resilient became core to who I am.
I would say jugaad, or the concept of frugal ingenuity from India, is also core to who I am. Growing up in the United States, I was very much a third-culture kid. Although my schooling and everything external was American, my home culture was very Indian, and I’m grateful for it. This concept of jugaad was how I showed my low-waste artistic skills as a young kid and it blossomed as I maneuvered through difficult financial times after my father left.
And I think this type of creativity — where we design our lives to work within our planet’s boundaries — is what we need more of in our field.
I’ve been in the sustainability space for 10 years now. In my experience, I have yet to see a business that aligns with planetary boundaries while taking care of its people and stakeholders — and I want to have a hand in getting companies there. If we can incorporate more frugal ingenuity by doing more with less, I think we can accelerate our transition to a sustainable economy.
When you were growing up, what was your dream job? Are there links between what you dreamed of doing and what you do now?
HC: This may not be the answer that you’re expecting, but I wanted to be a cosmetologist. That’s what a lot of my family members are. We’ve owned different small businesses, including salons, so that was my dream job. Surprisingly enough, I actually became a licensed master cosmetologist and worked in my mom’s salon starting my sophomore year of high school. Up until the end of grad school, I was helping to support the family business.
What brought you to Quantis?
HC: I knew about Quantis when I started grad school at Duke. I met someone that was working at Quantis at a conference. I loved talking to her and just got a really great impression of the company. I was studying LCAs at the time, so the company’s culture combined with its expertise in the field initially attracted me.
What brought me to Quantis though was Charlotte Bande — we’d both earned a place on GreenBiz’s 30 Under 30. We met last year at one of the dinners they were hosting, and she was like, “You’re a reporting person. We need a reporting person. Why not look into Quantis?” At the time, I was working in the DEI communication and reporting space at UPS, very much in social sustainability, which gave me valuable perspective on all ESG issues. And still, the urgency of environmental sustainability issues was pulling me back, so it was the perfect match.
How do you see your team contributing to shaping a planetary economy?
HC: I think the term for me is “activation.” We take a lot of the work done by our colleagues, who are experts in footprinting and LCA, and we make it palpable for a general audience, whether that’s someone reading a post on Twitter or a policymaker looking at a comparative LCA to see what they should do in the plastics pollution space. My team takes a lot of the really dense core data that is needed in the world and makes it as credible, engaging and interesting as possible. We make sure our colleagues’ hard work — and our client’s investments — are as effective as possible.
Both personally and professionally, where do you draw inspiration or motivation from?
HC: My upbringing always taught me to either leave a place in the same or better condition than how I found it. The reason I do the work that I do is to nurture biodiversity for generations to come. Taking strength from nature’s vast beauty and power, I will do whatever I can in my lifetime to protect our planet’s ecosystems.
The reason I do the work that I do is to nurture biodiversity for generations to come. Taking strength from nature’s vast beauty and power, I will do whatever I can in my lifetime to protect our planet’s ecosystems.
What’s something you would tell a potential candidate who is interested in Quantis?
HC: During a sustainability networking night at my alma mater, I told someone that I love the people that I work with, like, actually love the people that I work with. I love my work, and I am on board for all of the changes that the organization is going through. To me, “love” is a very strong word, and yet that is actually what I feel. When I said that to the student, she was like, “Where do I sign up?” She was very interested in working with us because this type of culture, I would say, is pretty rare. I feel very lucky to be here.
What is something about you that someone wouldn’t know just from reading your resume?
HC: The first one is braggy, but I think it’s one of the best things that’s happened to me. I was called “terrifyingly impressive” by the third founder of Ben & Jerry’s, Jeff Furman. That was a pretty solid compliment.
The other thing is that I helped to raise my sister and, whether I know you are not, I’m fiercely protective. If I see something going on, I will call it out. I’m just a very protective person.
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