“I always knew I wanted to work in sustainability within the business realm. When mapping out my educational plan, I decided to pursue a strong science foundation so I could articulate the environmental reasons why we should all care about climate change and human impact on our environment,” said Mara Ley, sustainability manager at Vuori, a California-based activewear company dedicated to making quality products that inspire others to live extraordinary lives.
Ley graduated in 2018 from Loyola Marymount University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from the LMU Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering and continued her education at LMU by earning an MBA in 2022 while also working.
“I envisioned myself as a sustainability advocate in the business world,” she said. “I wasn’t sure what related opportunities existed, so I took the initiative to carve out my desired career through research, networking, and tailored internships, as well as extra-curricular activities.” She feels strongly that LMU provided the education, resources, and freedom to do so. “The purpose of the Jesuit education and LMU’s dedication to the development of the ‘whole person’ helped me obtain the education and career I wanted,” Ley said.
As an undergrad, she conducted research on a team that was a collaboration between Seaver College of Science and Engineering and the College of Business Administration. The research project involved conducting lifecycle assessments on seven different coffee makers to measure the environmental impact of the appliances and determine which had the lowest carbon impact per one cup of coffee. She was one of two environmental science students on the team and co-authored the thesis Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of Seven Coffee Preparation Systems. “This research project was really beneficial to my career,” said Ley. “LMU encourages high-impact practices that benefit the student such as collaboration and cross-discipline projects. Having the business and science disciplines come together in this way was eye-opening for me.”
Through Ley’s personalized experience, she has made recommendations on curriculum to the environmental science program for both majors and non-majors. “There are ways to weave different courses in sustainability or environmentalism into different disciplines or areas of interest that students may have.”
In fact, Ley weaves her passion for environmental advocacy into everything she does. She honed her leadership skills as vice president of the Associated Students of LMU and as president of the Alpha Phi sorority’s Zeta Beta chapter. She collaborated with Green LMU where she worked with the facilities department to install water refilling stations on campus, as well as other projects that empowered students to reduce their waste.
Prior to her current position, Ley served as a sustainability coordinator at Reformation, a women’s fashion brand, and as a consultant at a sustainability agency. In her role at Vuori, she was hired to help create the overall impact strategy for the apparel company. She manages a two-person team that works to incorporate sustainability across the brand’s operations. Her responsibilities include informing product design and material choices, supply chain traceability, carbon accounting, crafting sustainability messaging for both internal and external audiences, and selecting and vetting packing materials, to name a few.
She says LMU affords students the opportunity to make their education what they want it to be, especially when passion and initiative are involved. “LMU offers everything larger universities offer, but on a more intimate scale, which means there is more personalized support and opportunities to creatively direct your education,” said Ley. “It gave me a place to learn, to be a leader and an advocate, and to be as involved as I wanted to be – and that made a significant impact in my life; something I can now pay forward.”