Daniel Bida: Arch Award recipient
Daniel Bida graduated from DeGroote’s commerce program in 2005. Now he’s the Executive Director of ZooShare, a not-for-profit that makes renewable energy from animal and food waste. Daniel will be presented with McMaster’s Arch Award on June 3. We asked him a few questions about his time at Mac, his passion for renewable energy, and his advice for students.
Share with me some memories of your undergrad and your time at McMaster University.
I have very fond memories of my time at McMaster University. Experiential learning, staying at McKay Hall, and becoming friends with my roommates, some of whom remain my best friends. Going on exchange to Denmark was a highlight as was my internship at Scotiabank in Hamilton. I learned a lot from both business courses and non-business courses, and found real value in a well-rounded education.
How did DeGroote prepare you for your career in finance and then as an entrepreneur?
DeGroote prepared me for my career in finance. The trading floor and the class that went with it was valuable. My internship has proved to be a huge part of preparing me for the real world. It allowed me to have real life experiences in working in an office, verses a purely academic environment. DeGroote gave me all the finance tools I needed.
Tell me about ZooShare and how it is eliminating greenhouse gases and contributing to Ontario’s energy.
ZooShare is a not-for-profit renewable energy co-op based out of the Toronto Zoo. ZooShare will recycle 3,000 tonnes of animal manure and 14,000 tonnes of inedible food waste from local grocery stores into renewable power. This process will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of removing 2,100 cars from the road each year or provide electricity for 250 homes. There is no waste produced by this process, as high-quality fertilizer is all the remains when it is complete. I am proud to be part of something that diverts waste from landfills.
What drives your passion for turning waste into energy?
My passion for turning waste into energy comes from the real desire to not waste things. It has been engrained in me since I was young that waste is bad. So, if I can help turn waste into resources and doing something better with it, then I will. Ultimately, I see that we have issues; greenhouse gas emissions, our reliance on fossil fuel, etc. ZooShare was created to help solve some of these problems and help make energy sustainable and renewable.
On Wednesday June 3 you will receive McMaster University’s Arch Award. What does this honour mean to you?
I think for the most part it is encouraging. Building a business can be difficult and the biogas sector is a relatively new industry. This recognition helps me move forward confidently. It allows me the energy and positivity to keep going.
Any advice for current DeGroote students and our alumni?
Look very closely at your interests and not just what you want to do when you grow up. When you are at school build a business, on any scale. The experience will be invaluable. In today’s economy, knowing that you can work for yourself is important. Use the incubator of university to figure that all out. Learn how to negotiate and take care of yourself.
Daniel Bida, BCom ’05, is the executive director of ZooShare. ZooShare is building North America’s first zoo-based biogas plant, to help reduce greenhouse gases by turning waste into energy. For more information visit www.zooshare.ca.Other stories tagged: alumni, alumni profile, arch award, sustainability