Dec 26, 2017

If You Think Work Is a Jungle, Try Going to an Actual Jungle

Ben GrabowskiBy Benjamin Grabowski, CPA

So, what’s your workday like? Cruising through murky Amazonian waters in search of a caiman (a miniature crocodile)? Maybe engineering data analytics tools for an entrepreneur’s environmental research company? It just so happens that my colleagues and I were afforded these very opportunities through our participation in the EY-Earthwatch Ambassadors program. The volunteer program embodies EY’s commitment to skills development, supporting entrepreneurs, and minimizing our environmental footprint.

Grabowski and friends on the Amazon with EY Earthwatch 2017In May 2017, an EY team of 10 from across the Americas and Israel, representing all of the firm’s functional service lines, boarded a 19th-century rubber-boom steamboat in Nauta, a remote town in the Peruvian Amazon. The boat served as both our home and our office for five days. We focused on understanding the challenges faced by Dr. Richard Bodmer, the owner of an environmental research company called AmazonEco, and pinpointed areas for improvement.

After identifying three focus areas for him — data analytics, integrated marketing, and advertising — our team separated into groups organized by our areas of experience. Each group developed an action plan where Dr. Bodmer would be able to spread greater awareness of AmazonEco’s research projects, publish its findings, and, ultimately, have a positive influence on conservation policy.

We learned about key environmental concepts by supporting Dr. Bodmer in his research. In fact, we even engaged in a variety of field research, which included surveying caimans, fishing bats, macaws, pink river dolphins, and piranhas.

This experience showed me the strength inherent in diversity of thought and the impact that a collaborative team can have. This journey also gave me an incredible perspective into the wide variety of Amazonian species that exist and the importance of biodiversity. I will never forget staring at the fangs of a piranha that was as big as my head, watching how the jungle came alive with the sun, and feeling the gaze of a peering jaguar as we trekked through the landscape.

AmazonEco not only seeks to protect each of these species, but also the local communities that rely on the wildlife. I’m proud that our team’s collective volunteer service contributed to these very important efforts.

Ben Grabowski is FSO assurance senior for EY in Pittsburgh. He can be reached at Benjamin.grabowski@ey.com.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of EY or any other member firm of the global Ernst & Young organization.

9272-PICPA Cares_160x160volPICPA Cares is PICPA’s year-long recognition effort of all the amazing things CPAs volunteer for to better their communities and the world. If you would like to find local events that you can join, visit PICPA Cares.


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  • Chris Cogan | Jan 20, 2018

    Awesome article- Great read! Not only did we both make countless friends at the firm, but it’s also great hearing they afford opportunities like this to us qualified professionals. If you ever need a career mentor or want to talk about next steps, feel free to hit me up anytime! 



  • AspiringCPA | Jan 19, 2018
    Sounds like a great experience. I will definitely apply if I qualify this year! 

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