Irene Shao


Bachelor of Arts (Hons.), Human Geography • University of Toronto

April 2022 - Congratulations to Irene Shao, Angelica Chow, Lara Brooks, Alannah Hoops, Elyse Muir for their third place win (out of 43 entries) in the RBC x Rotman Sustainable Finance Case Competition!

April, 2022 - Irene is the winner of the Individual Sustainable Action Award, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to sustainability at the University of Toronto and in the Community. Congratulations Irene!


Irene Shao is a passionate environmentalist and fine artist. Born in China and raised in Singapore, Irene immigrated to Canada in 2014 to pursue high school and university studies. Greatly inspired by the UN SDGs, Irene decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Geography (Specialist) at the University of Toronto, which she completed in June 2021. While working on various projects relating to environmental, social, and governance issues at the local and global scales,  she bore witness to the overwhelming benefits of sustainable practices for all aspects of human society. This realization, in addition to her passion for helping businesses mitigate risks and create long-term value, ultimately motivated her to pursue a career in sustainability management.                                                      

Irene gained cross-cultural perspectives on sustainability through living in different cities and working with the United Nations, TEDx, Deloitte, Canada National TV Inc and China Mobile International. This year, she spent five months as an intern at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, a convention in the United Nations Environment Programme. Her duties included stakeholder engagement, mainstreaming biodiversity targets in the financial sector, reviewing country reports for COP15, serving as a communication focal point, preparing presentations, drafting fund proposals, and moderating meetings. She was one of the members of the communication focal point for the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, the Fifth Science-Policy Forum for Biodiversity, and the Eighth International Conference on Sustainability Science. She was also a presenter during the consultation with parties on the Post-2020 Gender Plan of Action. She is actively supporting the establishment of the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosure (TNFD) to help businesses and organizations channel investments into more sustainable opportunities.

Having worked in both the public and private sectors has allowed Irene to review programs and processes against legislative and regulatory requirements related to environmental and social risk management. Through multifaceted work experiences, she has gained invaluable skills in sustainability, stakeholder engagement, consulting, data management, marketing, project management, problem-solving, presentation, teamwork, negotiation, and target implementation. In her next two years in the MScSM program, she looks forward to exploring areas of sustainability such as responsible investment, circular economy, and carbon reporting. Irene is also an SASB FSA level 1 candidate, which will allow her to explore the link between financially material sustainability information and a company’s ability to drive enterprise value.

In her spare time, Irene can often be found enjoying sports and fine arts.  She has been practicing oil painting, traditional Chinese painting, calligraphy and mixed-media painting for 16 years. She is also an épée fencer and a swimmer.

Irene's MScSM Internship: Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

irene's poster.png

(Download full poster here

Irene's Research Poster


(Download full poster here