Interview with Ms. Sandra Marichal, ESSEC BBA alumna



Ms. Sandra Marichal, ESSEC BBA alumna and Brand Strategy Director for a global strategy firm, will soon be embarking on a journey to Antarctica as part of the International Antarctic Expedition 2016 led by polar explorer and environmentalist Mr. Robert Swan, together with 150 explorers from all over the world.

We spoke to her to find out more about the Expedition and the #up2degrees movement which she has initiated, to play a part in efforts to reduce climate change.

Could you tell us more about yourself?

My name is Sandra, I'm French, and have been living in Singapore for 4 years. I work as a Brand Strategy Director for a global strategy firm. I worked in London, Luxembourg and Canada prior to coming here.

Could you tell us more about the #up2degrees movement?

When I first arrived in Singapore, I was surprised by the difference in temperature between the hot outdoor climate and the chilly indoor temperatures of shopping malls, offices, cinemas and public transport. I wondered how efficient and sustainable this was, and realized that there was something to be done about the use of air conditioners in Singapore.

I initiated the #up2degrees movement on 25 December 2015, and the movement is aimed at getting people to increase the set temperature of their air conditioners #up2degrees so the planet won't have to do it in relation to Singapore's commitment to COP21 Global Goals of restricting the increase of the global average temperature far below 2°C. (Singapore pledged its commitment to the environment, promising to reduce its emissions intensity by 36% by 2030 from 2005 levels. Source: Channel News Asia).

The movement's main activity is to engage with and educate people in Singapore about air conditioners, its use and impact on the climate especially as we know that nearly 40% of the total household energy consumption in Singapore goes to air conditioners only! (Source: e2 Singapore)

#up2degrees is also focusing on understanding the reasons why public spaces are so cold and what prevents them from being more efficient in their energy usage. We are closely working with the government and the authorities to amend regulations to trigger a positive change.

We are thankful for the support offered by friends and strangers who care about the #up2degrees movement and very grateful towards our corporate sponsors: Bawah Private Island ‘Explorers Wanted’,  Ben & Jerry’s and Flamingo Research.

Why did you decide to embark on an Expedition to Antarctica?

As I was trying to raise awareness about the impact of the use of air conditioners on the environment in Singapore through the #up2degrees movement, I learnt that Antarctica is actually playing the role of the aircon of the world. It is what we call a ‘heat sink’, cooling down oceans and enabling them to absorb carbon dioxide more efficiently. Antarctica compensates for global warming so we should protect it.

And that is the mission of the 2041 Foundation created by world famous polar explorer Robert Swan - first man in history to walk to both the North and South Pole unaided and who chose to dedicate his life to the protection of Antarctica. He gave a talk at the Global Green Economic Forum which was so inspiring! He invited me to join his expedition. I applied amongst other 6,000 applications worldwide and got selected as one of the 150 fellow explorers to join the International Antarctic Expedition 2016 that is set to begin on March 13th.

Image Source: 2041 Foundation

What do you hope to achieve through this Expedition?

This expedition is a great opportunity for Singaporeans to understand the impact of Singapore on the global scene as I will be reporting live from Antarctica showing and sharing the environmental distress happening there. Even though Singapore is a small country, it ranked higher than China, Malaysia and Hong Kong in terms of carbon emissions per capita according to OECD data in 2011. (Source: IEA)

I really hope to trigger interest and educate people about the role Singapore can and has to play in Southeast Asia and the world on being the pioneer in environment and climate technology.

Image Source: 2041 Foundation

How can we contribute to this initiative?

Good question! First, make sure the temperature on your air conditioner is set between 23 and 25°C at home, at your office, in the taxi you're taking or the school you're taking your classes in! If not, turn it #up2degrees.

Next, take the 'Are You Cold' survey on to help us draw a 'cold' map of Singapore, ultimately enabling us to make a case about how Singaporeans feel and offering them a platform to share their voice! You can also like the Facebook page and help spread the word by sharing it with your friends.

How has your education at ESSEC in the BBA program played a part in shaping your life journey, including your decision to participate in this expedition?

The ESSEC BBA pushed me to embrace the 'international' lifestyle - sent me to study, live and thrive in other countries - being exposed to completely new cultures, opening my mind and exciting my curiosity to see always more, meet new people and never stopped learning. My experience at ESSEC gave me the confidence to embrace the opportunities where others see risks; to think why not? when other think it won't work!; and to be courageous enough to do what I really want to do - to be a pioneer of my own life.

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