Spring 2016 Scholarship Award Honorary Mention: Treijon Johnson

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PCB Solutions has built a reputation for providing fair PCB quotes and creating quality rigid and semi flex PCB components. While that would be enough for some companies, we feel obligated to give back to our community, as well. We decided that the best way to help the community is by helping the youth, which is why we created the Chuan Ai Lu Engstrom Memorial Scholarship. We had a lot of great applicants this year. Unfortunately, we can only select one winner, but we want to honor Treijon Johnson for his fantastic essay.

Treijon was part of the Global Citizenship program at Cornell. As part of that program, he traveled to Thailand. During his time there, he watched the residents not only live through intense flooding, but also thrive in it. That resilience formed his worldview. Now, he hopes that businesses can become just as resilient by establishing relationships with the environment. He wants businesses and the environment to form partnerships with a reciprocal value, and he hopes to start such a business himself. With Treijon as a leader of this movement, renewable energy may become more than a buzz phrase that people throw around. It can become something that we find in big businesses all around the world.


 

Chuan Ai Lu Engstrom Memorial Scholarship Essay

I envision a future where the economy and the environment can work together to create reciprocal value. For instance, investing in renewable energy and locally sourcing materials isn’t only economical, but it benefits society as well. I envision a world where the most successful corporations thrive by giving more back to the world than they consume. Through sustainability, businesses can acquire value that outlasts all trends and fluctuations in the marketplace.

Last winter break, I received the opportunity to travel to Thailand with the Global Citizenship program at Cornell. In this program, we were able to research exactly how the people in rural Bangkok are able to live and thrive with flooding of four to five feet each year. Our hopes were to come back to Ithaca, where there is also an annual flood problem, and educate residents on how to become more resilient. In rural Thailand, flooding is a way of life- not a disaster. Not only did we discover that the people of Thailand weren’t bothered by the flooding, but often, this was the most profitable time for them. When large floods came, it gave the people the opportunity to catch a bounty of fish that they could sell for more than they would normally make. This was a particularly interesting find because Thailand is an agriculture-based economy. The livelihoods of so many individuals lies in farming, yet they have found a way to profit greatly even when flooding stops all farm activity.

The type of resilience that we found in Thailand is something so many other countries could benefit from. They don’t just survive these incidents, but they thrive from them. They use their circumstance to their own advantage. If other flood areas of the world saw the way Thailand benefits from flooding, it could inspire a movement to create value from what seems like devastation. Not only this, but reaching out across countries to learn from each other can deepen relationships between seemingly unrelated places. Deepening these relationships can go a long way to helping all countries feel empowered to solve climate change together. This is crucial because at the end of the day, no country can solve our environmental problems alone. And the global scale of environmental problems requires the entire world economy to work towards a solution together.

This inspired me to think about the way businesses could be managed as well. Denmark recently generated 140% of their energy needs in a day by wind energy alone. If more businesses establish relationships with others of similar environmental risk, it would be much easier to find ways to benefit from the natural conditions that surround us. The reason these relationships are so important is because culture is an important factor in the problem solving of different countries and businesses. In Thailand, people learned to live with severe flooding from their parents and grandparents. All information was passed down verbally and rarely communicated on the internet. If other developing nations share similar culture, the information they have could easily never translate to others who need it. So without putting in the effort to reach out and develop a relationship towards a common goal, solutions become much more difficult and expensive to find.

My dream is to start a business that focuses just as much on meaningful impact as economic impact. Investing in sustainable strategy and technology from the beginning can turn risk into value, especially in high risk areas like California. I could imagine this type of business doing great there because people already understand the need. It would be something of a consulting firm that helps business establish what is needed to implement more global, sustainability strategy. The emphasis on global is so crucial because often, I feel that the answer we seek already exists, we just have to put the effort into finding it by reaching out. And once a solution is found, businesses will be able to generate surplus value when many businesses are suffering from what seems to be devastation.

My management style would be instrumental to my success because it would be based on only two central things: Ethics and Innovation. I believe these are the traits needed to succeed in any business, but also traits that can be recognized and appreciated by anyone. Innovation is certainly necessary to be able to evolve ideas that don’t already exists or aren’t widely implemented. And I believe ethics are even more important because if you truly seek to give back to the world, you must have strong ethical values. I would evaluate myself, my employees and my company on these two central ideas. By evaluating and encouraging employees towards meaningful impact as well as economic achievement, I hope that I could inspire them to enjoy giving back to the world as much as receiving payment for their services.

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