Member Feature: Brandon Simons

Brandon is pursuing an undergraduate degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology where he is majoring in electrical engineering and minoring in E3 (energy/environment/economics). He joined Illinois Tech’s ESW chapter as a freshman where he served as their events coordinator in 2014 and as president since 2015. This year, Brandon joined the ESW Leadership Team as a New Chapter Development Coordinator to continue to spread sustainability values and ideas to a variety of different communities.

How does he manage to balance school, ESW-IIT, ESWHQ, and more?

Balance and maintenance.

Brandon lives his life by his calendar, from classes, RA meetings, work, gym, and even eating, he sets aside time and visualizes his day to get the most out of it. He plans his day with checklists with everything to do in a tiny notebook he is always carrying around.

He hates leaving emails unanswered. He says that he will pull out my phone in class and answer right away, which he knows probably isn’t the best move, but it helps him to keep a clear head.

Why does he do it all?

He always feels like there is an opportunity to do more. It drives him and motivates him to do more because there are so many opportunities and possibilities that he wants to take advantage of it all while he can.

What was planning the 2016 ESW Regional Conference at Illinois Tech like?

It was the most fun that he never wants to have again.

Planning the Regcon was one of the top highlights he had as a student. He got to network with so many people in Chicago from the EPA, startups, big companies, and industry leaders. While planning the conference, he learned there is so much work that goes on in the backend that you do not see until you must do it yourself.  It taught him how to delegate tasks and not take everything on himself. He realized he could lean on his team and carry out more with them than he could by himself. At the end, he enjoyed seeing people’s reactions after they experienced the conference. Seeing people enjoy what he put together, having fun, and collaborating with each other was extremely rewarding.

What does he get out of ESW?

If he had not found ESW, he would not have the same mentality now. It sums up what he wants to do with his life. When he came to school he said he had no direction – he just wanted to get his degree and get a 9-5 job. But ESW taught him about passion. He met people who wanted to change the world. It has changed and narrowed his focus to leave an impact.

By rebuilding his chapter from its roots, he would not have developed the passion to volunteer, become a member of the ESW Leadership Team, or work with any other non-profits. It has introduced a new light to what he wants to do. The cohort of people in ESW is strong. ESW is more than just what they do but about who is doing it and who is involved. It is a group of people he knows he fits in with and is in tune with. Being involved with a group of people who thought like him, welcomed him, and envisioned liked him changed his outlook.

How has it influenced his future?

That is how Brandon defined success before ESW: Get a job. Make bank.

After being an ESW volunteer and meeting a lot of nonprofits, he has shifted to wanting to focus on giving back to the community. He now defines success as how many people you can positively influence and mentor. He notes that the future is undefined and wants to focus on education to leave an impact. He wants to participate in a future of educating the youth, through mentorship, sustainable practices, and leadership development.

Lastly, he remarks, “we have the technology to be sustainable, people do not realize how easy it is to appreciate the outdoors and be sustainable. To bring about change we need to change the societal culture, opinions, thoughts, and way of life.”

After graduating in 2018, he hopes to continue his passion of advocating sustainability through consulting, motivational speaking, and politics.  In his later years, he hopes to return to academia through teaching.