Many talented individuals have received degrees from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. These brilliant minds can be found all over the world, at the helm of scientific associations, leading labs at prestigious universities, and even spearheading sustainability initiatives at global organizations. Not long after graduating from Scripps Oceanography’s Master of Advanced Studies program in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (MAS MBC) in 2016, Astrid Hsu took her talents and expertise to the happiest company on Earth—the Walt Disney Company. She currently serves as the Environmental Integration Manager for the Walt Disney Company, a role designed to help the organization achieve its sustainability goals.
Why did you choose to study at Scripps?
I’ve always had many interests. From pottery to salsa dancing, the Japanese language to Krav Maga, my curiosity has driven my appreciation for different perspectives. This curiosity carried into my professional life, and I found that Scripps Institution of Oceanography celebrated interdisciplinary sciences. I could study not just marine biology, but could also learn and develop solutions that integrated economics, sociology, and education.
What was your most memorable experience during your time at Scripps?
I had the great opportunity to participate in Scripps’ Scientific Diving Program. This course built my confidence as a diver and expanded my underwater skillset. It also taught me lessons that I use above water: how to stay calm under pressure (literally) and how to determine my physical and mental boundaries. The best part of the course was belonging to a community that watches out for each other both above and below the surface.
What was your first job after graduating from Scripps?
At Scripps! I was lucky enough to join the Aburto Lab as a researcher to grow my experience in marine conservation, specifically monitoring and conserving coastal resources such as mangroves. I also worked with the Ramanathan Lab and University of California Office of the President to build the course Bending the Curve: Climate Change Solutions, which guides students toward implementing sustainable solutions.
What is your current role?
Currently I am an Environmental Integration Manager with the Walt Disney Company. My role is to take the company’s 2030 environmental sustainability goals and implement them at Disneyland by working with operations. For example, I am collaborating with the food and beverage team to reduce emissions along each step of Disneyland’s food supply chain, from source to waste.
What is your favorite thing about your current role/career?
Working with a wide variety of stakeholders. Like cheese, my curiosity has grown bolder with time, and in my current role, I’m able to engage partners from different lines of business.
What was most helpful in transitioning to your role/career (or after graduation)?
For me, it was most helpful to talk to professionals of different industries and experiences and hear how they navigated the challenges that I faced. I also sought out structured mentorship programs for early-career leadership to support my professional development. One such program I participated in was the National Geographic Early Career Leadership Program.
Additionally, therapy and some awesome friends were crucial. Transitions can be exciting! They can also be clunky, uncomfortable, and scary. Having a strong support network and some serious self-reflection helped me navigate change.
What advice do you have for current students?
Be bold in asking for the help or resources that you need. Whether that is asking your company, manager, friends, or the internet, there are more free and accessible resources than I would have imagined to support one's professional and personal journey. I also recommend engaging in network expansion and casual professional meet and greets to practice pitches and to learn about what others do.
What do you like to do for fun?
I love being outdoors! Like many Scripps folks, I can't stray far from the ocean, so I enjoy snorkeling and diving. I also love to salsa dance, bike, and paint terrible birthday cards for my friends. Every now and then I will sign up for random classes such as improv or Brazilian jiu-jitsu.