Shannon Leiderman has been a part of the thinkPARALLAX team for three and a half years, specializing in internal communications and employee engagement. With a passion for writing and storytelling, Shannon helps our clients create communication strategies with an authentic and inspiring narrative. Shannon is curious and creative by nature, which enables her to explore ideas from different angles.
In this thinkPARALLAX Spotlight, we interview Shannon to understand why she’s committed to amplifying impact.
What made you want to pursue a career in sustainability communications? Briefly tell us about the journey that brought you to thinkPARALLAX.
Before joining thinkPARALLAX, I directed PR and marketing for a Singapore-based luxury travel company, which relocated me halfway across the world to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In this role, I got to travel throughout Southeast Asia and work with an extensive portfolio of hotels and resorts that operate in vulnerable communities such as Bali, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. This opened my eyes to how businesses play a powerful role in either supporting or exploiting people and the planet.
When I returned to San Diego, I was determined to work for a company that embraces the opportunity to make a positive impact. I was drawn to thinkPARALLAX because the company’s mission to better the world aligns with my personal values. The office being two blocks from the beach was an added bonus!
What is your role at thinkPARALLAX and which clients do you work with? Describe a typical day.
As a Communication Strategist, I work closely with our clients to showcase their sustainability story in a way that resonates with key stakeholders. On any given day, I could be developing a sustainability framework and narrative, ideating an employee engagement campaign, creating a communications plan, leading workshops with key stakeholders – the list goes on!
I am currently focused on projects with Cox Enterprises, Qualcomm, Realty Income, and Interactive Brokers. I have also worked with King’s Hawaiian, Fossil Group, and Darden Restaurants, to name a few.
What is the most difficult part of your job and communicating sustainability overall?
The most challenging part about communicating sustainability is creating messaging that is inspiring, original, and distinct to a company, while avoiding generic and unsubstantiated statements. Sometimes it feels like there are only so many different ways to say similar things related to sustainability – which is why it’s so critical to tap into a client’s unique purpose, values, and culture to create authentic and meaningful messaging.
What is the most exciting part of your job and why?
I am most excited when we land a new employee engagement or internal communications project because I love working on projects that help instill a sense of pride for employees while driving collective action. This work demonstrates how communication is more than words – it has the potential to affect change. Plus, I am fascinated by company culture and enjoy seeing what makes companies unique for employees.
Which company do you admire most for their sustainability/social impact work and why?
I am obsessed with Six Senses Resorts, the hotel group that continues to pioneer socially and environmentally responsible practices in the travel industry, particularly in the luxury sector. Because Six Senses operates in remote places of pristine natural beauty, they understand their important role as environmental stewards and take a sophisticated approach to minimize their impact – which goes far beyond metal straws and asking guests to reuse towels.
For example, Six Senses Fiji operates on 100% solar energy powered by Tesla batteries, bottles their own drinking water from an onsite reverse osmosis plant, and serves food and cocktails made with herbs straight from their organic garden. Guests have the opportunity to plant a coral reef, help with their iguana conservation project, and visit a local village. They also have a local hiring and sourcing policy with no small detail left untouched – everything from their boutique’s jewelry to the woven placemats are handcrafted by locals as an effort to help alleviate poverty in the community.
Which sustainable development goal are you most passionate about and why?
Life below water (SDG 14) – As a scuba diver, I adore marine animals and am passionate about protecting the ocean and all the incredible creatures that call it home. And because the ocean accounts for more than 70 percent of our oxygen, protecting it is innately tied to safeguarding the future of humanity.
I have volunteered with organizations including Sea Shepherd, Seal Rescue Ireland, Sumantran Sea Turtle Rescue, and Surfrider San Diego. I am hopeful that advocacy and conservation efforts can turn the tide on the future of our oceans.
What do you like to do when you’re not amplifying impact? (e.g. hobbies, personal passions, etc.)
I can almost always be found at the beach, in an art gallery, or playing with my cat, Nacho. I also love learning about new things by reading and traveling (pre-COVID) to tropical locations with my husband.
How do you personally champion sustainability in your everyday life?
Like anyone who lives on the coast, I believe I have an important responsibility to protect the ocean through my everyday actions. This means using reef-safe sunscreen, avoiding plastic as much as possible, and picking up trash at my local beach.