Names to Know: Tarika Auckbaraullee

How would you describe your role at TELUS?

I am the Communications Specialist for TELUS Event Management, though it may sound like our team plans events for the company, we are actually the team responsible for ensuring the availability and reliability of the TELUS broadband network, both nationally and internationally. We work together to expedite the resolution of major wireless and wireline network outages to ensure the continuous delivery of TELUS services to our customers. My role as a Communications Specialist is to communicate with our stakeholders and ensure they are aware of any network issues and our plans to mitigate them. When I’m not working on these communications, I’ve been able to work on several process improvement and program management initiatives.

Beyond my day-to-day role, I am honoured to be a part of two other teams within TELUS that do incredible work for our communities and our environment. I serve as both the Communications Coordinator for the TELUS Community Ambassadors’ National Volunteer Committee and the Chair of Communications for the TELUS National Sustainability Council. Although different in their mandates, both of these teams are focused on giving back, which I am passionate about. On the National Volunteer Committee, I’ve had the opportunity to help support national outreach and build onboarding and recognition programs for the 23 Ambassador Clubs across Canada. As the new Chair of Communications for the TELUS National Sustainability Council, I hope to work with my team to create innovative communications programs so we may interact with those interested in TELUS’ sustainability efforts.

What was your education and career path that led you here?

I took a non-traditional path to my current role as a Communications Specialist at TELUS. While working toward a double major in English and Professional Writing at York University, I was recommended to work part-time at a Koodo retail location. Admittedly, I was intimidated at first, I knew nothing about cellphones or the telecom industry. After accepting a full-time position at Koodo, my manager mentioned that I would be a great candidate for Koodo’s Leadership Development Program – a program that provides participants with a mentor to create career goals and sets a plan to work toward them. It was in this program that I first learned about Communications roles in TELUS and how I could use my expertise and educational background at a company whose culture I had come to love. I worked with my mentor to create a SMART goal stating that I would land a Communications position at TELUS by 2015 and made it happen!

If I could offer advice to anyone looking to advance their careers out of university, it would be to:

  • Take risks: you don’t need to know everything as long as you’re willing to learn everything
  • Write your goals down: make them your mantra and they will turn into your reality!

Can you tell us more about the TELUS National Sustainability Council?

In alignment with our corporate priorities, TELUS formed the National Sustainability Council in 2015 to help create a healthier, more sustainable future. Team members dedicate up to ten per cent of their paid working time to council activities in addition to volunteer hours. The Council, made up of five teams (Education and Awareness, Green Team support, Growth and Measurement, Resource Stewardship and Communications and Energy Efficiency), lead many sustainable initiatives. These initiatives are aligned with our corporate strategies and priorities to foster a healthier, more sustainable workplace, and in turn, healthier and sustainability-focused team members. Some of the initiatives we’ve discussed recently are the use of reusable cups/mugs at the office, increasing awareness of the Nudge app and staging events to increase awareness of TELUS’ sustainability efforts.

Furthering our commitment to sustainability, TELUS also produces an annual Sustainability Report, which details the many aspects of the company’s sustainable initiatives ranging from environmental stewardship and transforming healthcare to advancing education and community investment. Read the 2016 TELUS Sustainability Report here.

What is something you’ve accomplished at TELUS that you are particularly proud of and why?

After a meeting of the Sustainability Council earlier this year, I left invigorated and on the lookout for a way to make an immediate change in my community. An opportunity to do so presented itself in the form of eliminating the use of many thousands of plastic water bottles. May 26 marked the beginning of the month of Ramadan for Muslims, where we refrain from food and water from sunrise to sunset. My local mosque provides a meal every night which is free for our community. During the week, we receive about 300 members each day, which swells to about 550 on the weekends. If you total that for the month, that is a meal for roughly 9,200 meals served over the course of the month. These 9,200 meals each receive a water bottle as a drink option, which means 9,200 water bottles are used in just one month at our one mosque alone.

Leading up to the month, I saw a community member at the mosque with a colourful, reusable water bottle that was labelled #WasteFreeRamadan. After reaching out Toronto Muslims, the organization that runs the campaign, I found a sponsor for our congregation and had the bottles made, delivered and distributed. The complimentary reusable bottles were well received and it was been amazing to see them at the mosque instead of the usual one-time use bottles. Our community prevented the use of over 9,000 one-time use plastic water bottles with just one initiative, this is a great example of the big impact even a simple idea like this can have

I grew up in a household that stands on a foundation of helping others. From a very young age, I saw the value in volunteering and making an impact on the community around me. Through my involvement in various initiatives growing up, I was able to see how easy it is to help out and make a change. At TELUS, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to share the same passion with my peers and am encouraged to continue these efforts. I’ve been given support and paid working time to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, TELUS Days of Giving and Shoreline Cleanups. Moreover, time to work on two councils dedicated to supporting the communities we live in. I am a community member who gives where I live, and am proud to work for a corporation who takes on the same responsibility.

Do you have any tips or resources for anyone that wants to create sustainability initiatives in their own communities?

No idea is ever too small. A lot of the time, we create barriers for ourselves or don’t follow through with something because we perceive it to be insignificant. It’s time we change that mentality and remember, there is no measurement to an impact. If I see a water bottle on the ground and throw it into a recycling bin, that’s an impact to that community. That simple act could inspire an onlooker to do the same, and it has the potential to create a snowball effect. Be the change you want to see and everything else will fall into place, trust me.