Who I Am, What I’m Doing, and Where I’m Going
I’m new to Medium and to LinkedIn, so I wanted to offer a little value in the form of contextualizing my background, expounding on some interest areas of mine, and outlining my goals for the future in greater depth.
First off, my name is Adefoluke Shemsu. I typically go by Ade (ah-day) for short, and I have been unbelievably privileged to have enjoyed the audacity to observe and experience life from a plethora of “nontraditional” perspectives.
Since a career-ending soccer injury that occurred in 2013, I have received an uncountable amount of opportunities to serve the public through an array of means, with the primary focal point being national, community, and volunteer service focused on combatting environmental, economic, and social issues under agencies and organizations such as the YCMA, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the City of SeaTac, AmeriCorps State/National, and AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps.
The work ranged from building affordable, sustainable housing with Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro East to facilitating at-risk populations’ exposure to nature in Battle Ground, restoring fire-scarred regions in San Diego, building ADA-accessible trails with the Washington Trails Association, using prescribed fire to propagate endangered flora and fauna populations with The Nature Conservancy in Suffolk, and serving under Fiver Rivers Metroparks to help maintain the beauty of Cox Arboretum, to fighting wildfires with the Ohio DNR’s Interagency Fire Crew in Montana.
Further, I had opportunities to connect community leaders with resources to give them a stake in the revitalization of their neighborhoods, participated in community-facing volunteer opportunities such as Dayton EITC, public outreach regarding the 2020 census with the Greater Dayton Young Democrats, and filling varying needs as a volunteer for the congressional campaign of Desiree Tims.
I couldn’t begin to dive into the details of everything I have experienced so far, but these experiences took me across eleven states and over twenty cities; and played a massive role in forging the many relationships that have been invaluable to my personal and professional growth to this day.
Interests and Endeavors of the Present
Given that the majority of my young adult life was focused on experiential learning wherever I could, the second chapter in my life is focused on applying what I’ve learned in a more formal setting. I found previously that while I loved hands-on service opportunities, the breadth of my influence and ability to positively impact others or solve issues of greater complexity would require stepping from the field and into the office. I am setting out to empower myself in exactly that way.
I could only do so much with my hands to make those incremental changes that matter most, and I noticed that the greatest lasting impacts in both the public and private sectors occur usually as a shift in policy or corporate action, which underly just about everything we do. With extensive experience serving our public lands and environment at varying degrees, I knew that whatever journey I embarked upon next would have to relate to continuing that service somehow. Thus, my interests primarily are in the realm of sustainability, cleantech, green issue-advocacy, renewable energy, corporate governance, business consulting, and environmental policy – areas where I believe my service-driven approach to my work could ripple to impact many others in a valuable way.
Service to one’s environment is service to the individuals in it by proxy in my opinion, so my greatest aspiration is to work at the forefront of humanitarian and environmental issues of national and international relevance. The work of solving the multifaceted issues facing our society and how those issues impact our national infrastructure, foreign relations, and tomorrow’s corporations or financial institutions are the driving force behind my “why” and my willingness to do whatever is necessary to see this vision actualized.
Though the idea of planning one’s life to the day is foolish on its face, it serves as a way for me to set a loose blueprint outlining everything that I would like to do in the short and long term, which is integral to organizing my priorities, my time, and the opportunities that I take on.
Since I am in the early stages, my short to mid-term (3, 5, 7 years) goals, for now, is exposure — exposure to different roles within a company, the perspectives of those in industries of my interest, educational opportunities that will aid my potential for success in the sector, and hard skills (data/ESG analysis, financial analysis/modeling, business operations, business strategy analysis/implementation, and other core competencies) that will cement the accrual of diverse career opportunities. Once I’ve drilled down where I want to be, I would most likely aim for a role in consulting, finance (quant or impact, if possible), or another role driven by data analysis (my current area of study) to build a strong foundation of marketable, widely applicable skills.
From there, I think it would be cool to cash in on my private sector skills in the public/nonprofit sector — places like the Department of Energy, The Nature Conservancy, Earth Justice, the EPA, the National Park Service, or the Department of State’s Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental & Scientific Affairs — to see the other side of the conservational coin, so to speak. I want a comprehensive look at problem-solving skills, operational strategies, and combative methodologies used to address issues like climate change (as the umbrella topic), pollution reduction, regulatory action, ESG investing, resource expenditure mitigation, waste management, and other major topics influencing much of the First World’s relationship to the environment and its natural resources. I have noticed that the public and private sectors both have their strengths and weaknesses, so I would hope to build such a range of applicable experiences that I develop my own innovative, practical perspective that provides value to both sectors.
Lastly, I want the perspective deriving from years of pursuing subject matter expertise to hold credible weight. By that, I mean I desire the access to collaborate with leaders in business and in public policy to help inform the next wave of governance and shape corporate infrastructure + practices that will best serve the public as well as the economic and infrastructural good for both sectors.
I’m not entirely sure how this would manifest, but I have seen more and more consulting, C-level or executive positions in sustainability, corporate positions focused on government relations or environmental compliance, climate finance roles, and advisory positions within our federal government and in international entities like the United Nations Environment Programme, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or the World Nature Organization.
I am aware that these goals are lofty, but as previously stated — I have always been wildly audacious, and I believe the mere fact that I will no longer be here someday is plenty of justification to see, do, and learn as much as I possibly can while I can. These goals span 30+ years of my life, so I am still very open to whatever changes may come along the way, as the only true constant in my ambition is to combine analysis with intuitive action to solve complex problems.
I take nothing for granted but feel a great weight that often accompanies the privilege of having experienced such an abundance of cultures, people, and schools of thought so early in my life. This transcends tangible desire or material want. No matter what else I do or how else I try to picture myself in life, ever-lingering is a deeply compelling feeling which beckons me to do my absolute best to earn the privilege of impacting others in a net positive way by doing hard things.
I am a huge proponent and advocate for doing one’s part with the little time we have in this life. Nothing brings me joy, satisfaction, or fulfillment like knowing I am doing absolutely everything I can to uphold the notion of being the change I desire to see in the world — especially in the interest of those who can’t yet do it for themselves. I don’t believe it is wise to wait for a savior or to hope that “one day” a change will suddenly occur. The answer is us — is you — is me. So, my only true goal for the future (when you peel back the layers) is getting to play a part — large or small — in the creation of a better tomorrow for our planet and its people.
I said a lot here about what I want my life to look like, but that is more is less me just trying to be as intentional as possible about the next phase in my life. To allow a north star, of sorts, to guide me. At the end of the day, I want to be actively working within, advising on, or raising capital for things that matter to people beyond myself, as I’m quite content where I am, and I’ll never worry about my own wellbeing.
The truth is, any chance to choose what I want to do with my life is a privilege, and I am open to all of it.