Sustainability System Initiative

Sustainability System Initiative


The idea behind Sustainability System Initiative (SSi) was realized through the educational, academic, and professional background of two individuals within the arena of sustainability, international development, and engineering. Aligning with the three pillars of sustainable development, we aim to provide a platform to create the opportunity for individuals to inspire sustainable change through innovative education-adventure models and professional development approaches. Creating life-changing experiences for students across the developing world in nations leading the way in sustainable development is at the core of our mission.

Within the current climate of globalization and environmental concern there is much need to inspire the future generations to engage in green change across all levels of environmental, social, and economic spheres to promote sustainable development for current and future generations.



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Yes, I recommend this program

Sustainability is an important focus moving into the future, and I am very fortunate that SSi provided this amazing learning experience. The team were great, and provided a great mash up of professional outcomes and personal development. Studying abroad has adjusted my perspective of the world, and how imperative it is that we work together to collectively inspire sustainable change. I would recommend SSi to anyone who wants to participate in the next generation of innovation and responsible development.

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Yes, I recommend this program

I was in disbelief that I would really be visiting another country, it wasn’t until our plane landed that I realized how real this was. I was anxious, I didn’t even speak enough Mandarin to ask where a restroom was, but the experience was amazing. We were brought to different universities and museums, and our guides did a great job of formatting the experience to fit our specific needs and educational goals. The entire trip went so smoothly in a way that would have been impossible to arrange on our own. They were able to source presentations from different companies in our industry, even though it is rather niche. When looking at my options, I was strongly considering a trip to English speaking countries so that I could avoid the language barrier, however this trip was everything that I wanted and more. We traveled all along the western coast of China, and in between our presentations and tours were able to visit some amazing locations! In all honesty, I thought I would dislike the trip, but I simply cannot wait to go back! My friends and family were sick of me for months after the trip, because it was all I could talk about. I had so many experiences, I only wish that I had kept a journal to keep track of them all. I know you’ll enjoy it as much as my group did, have fun!

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Yes, I recommend this program

I did my Masters degree in Environmental Science in Shanghai, one of the best decisions I made. To have studied in a dynamic city really exposed me to many opportunities, SSi was one of these opportunities. When time came for me to gain valuable work experience I was able to collaborate with other professionals through SSi and see first hand the inner workings of various sustainable business ventures, Networking through SSi was invaluable and experience to remember.

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Yes, I recommend this program

"I am really glad that I chose SSi to do my internship in Shanghai. It was a valuable experience with a company who had sustainability at the core of their values, which I am really passionate about. Shanghai was an incredible destination, one that I thought I would never venture to, but i'm so glad I did! One of the greatest parts about this program was meeting so many great people and being able to explore different places on the weekends. The SSi team are professional and very approachable.”

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Yes, I recommend this program

My SSi internship experience in Shanghai was a decision I do not regret! The company I interned with taught me so much about sustainability in China as well as the business side of things. The SSi team were so helpful and friendly, especially Craig, he was a great mentor. On top of this, there were some fun filled weekend trips to other cities and sites! I would recommend this to anyone and everyone. If you want to create change, join SSi!


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Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Craig Sturrock

Job Title
Founder/Managing Director

Craig is the founder of SSi – Sustainable System Initiative which provides a platform and opportunity for students to engage in educational programs and career development with a core focus on sustainability. He has a double Bachelor’s Degree in International Development and Sustainability Studies, and was awarded an international research Master’s Degree Scholarship in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development in Shanghai.

What is your favorite travel memory?

I love all of my travel memories. I take each travel experience as they come, and try hard not to put any kind of expectation on the destination. Every adventure has something unique to offer!

However, if I have to pick one favorite, it would have to be Guyana, South America in 2009. I volunteered for 6 months in remote villages in the Amazon Basin with the mission of HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness in remote locations.

It opened my eyes to what works and what doesn't in terms of aid and development. I realized how we really need to understand the context of the country, culture and the people so as not to impose a "one-size-fits-all" model. It was truly enriching and life changing.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I truly believe that in order to change or grow, you really need to break out of your comfort zones. Being well travelled has definitely aided my personal growth. Travel is one thing, however, when moving to China and setting up my life here, I realized that a lot more growth was needed.

Relocating to China as well as founding a company here has taught me so much, and the journey continues. This experience has taught me tolerance, patience and understanding. As the saying goes, “Everyone wants to be heard, but no one is willing to listen." Listening is key to understanding.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned and always tell students who come to China for our programs is to never compare the differences here to what you know back home. Start your journey with an open mind and understanding, and you'll enjoy the experience.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I’m always very observant when we have a new group of students whose change we have to gauge throughout our programs. Especially being in China, most students have never ventured here before, so it’s a completely foreign experience for them, and sometimes a shock. We take this very seriously at SSi, and always strive to put our students at ease if they have concerns.

I had a student from the USA join one of our Adventure Mobility programs, and I could tell he was a bit apprehensive at first, with the initial culture shock of China. By the end of the program, he said to me, "I never thought I would have an experience that could allow my mind to be opened so much.”

Personally, these are the moments that make it all worth it for me.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

Our Internship Program and Adventure Mobility Program are designed for different experiences and outcomes, so I choose both of them!

The thing I love about our Internship Program is the length of time it gives students to experience Shanghai and China. It’s always exciting to watch the change in confidence and independence of the students as well as in their attitudes/behaviors.

On the other hand, I love the short-term intensiveness of our Adventure Mobility Program. It allows students to experience something completely out of their comfort zones, gain academic insight, and of course travel and adventure! Camping and trekking along the GREAT Wall is one of my favorite adventures.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

What makes SSi unique is we have a niche concept which is sustainability and measuring positive social impact through our alumni and their future steps after our programs. Our models are about stepping outside the classroom and providing a practical application to learning across all of our programs.

Each person on our team has had either an international internship and/or an enriching study abroad experience, and with a sustainability background or interest. I think this really conveys to our students and partners.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

It’s a combination of multiple factors. For me personally, it is understanding our students’ needs, and also delivering on your services and products.

We are also very selective with our team. Creating the right dynamics and aligning SSi's visions and values with our team members and conveying them to our students is crucial to our success.