Net Impact Conference in Portland

Net ImpactOn October 27, 2011, Foster Net Impact sent 55 students (including 1st & 2nd year full-time and evening) to the 19th National Net Impact Conference at the Oregon convention center in Portland. Net Impact is focused on helping to create a new generation of leaders who use their careers to tackle the world’s toughest problems. Net Impact members put their business skills to work for good throughout every sector. By doing so, they show the world that it’s possible to make a net impact that benefits not just the bottom line, but people and planet too. The conference is held over three days and brings students and professional together to tackle tough CSR and sustainability challenges, build their careers and professional networks, and participate in sessions that pushed boundaries and limits. This year the conference was focused on:
• Where creative problem solving and playful approaches can lead to serious solutions
• Where sustainable innovations were championed by those you least expect
• Where unlikely partnerships accelerate change

This was my second time attending the Net Impact Conference and each year I have left feeling inspired and refreshed to continue to pursue my personal belief that business is about mission and margin. As my idol Sally Jewel constantly reminds us, “you can’t have mission without margin and you can’t have margin without mission.” I am not specifically seeking a career in CSR or environmental sustainability, but someday CSR and environmental sustainability will not be silos within companies, but instead will be part of every employee’s job. To know and to understand the intricacies of the triple bottom line, in my opinion, is a competitive advantage and a valuable tool to have within any organization. My favorite panel that I attended was the “Connecting Consumers with Action… and your Brand.” With an increasing number of companies wanting to use their corporate citizenship work as a marketing tool, it’s no longer enough to just shout your message to the masses and hope someone hears you. In this session, they featured three companies (Nike, Levi Strauss and Recycle Bank) who have figured out how to successfully grab socially conscious consumers’ attention, engage them, and elicit a desired behavior that has a positive impact on the world—and on perceptions of their brands. For any marketing professional, this was both an inspiring and educational panel.

The Net Impact conference is such an amazing experience and beyond the conference itself it is a wonderful opportunity to spend some time and bond with your classmates who attend. While in Portland, many of us got to share amazing memories together including an awesome Peruvian dinner in order to celebrate the birthday of one our classmates, getting dressed up for Halloween and enjoying the local Portland bar scene, and traveling together by car and train. These are the moments I will remember years after I have finished the MBA.

If you would like to learn more about the Foster Net Impact chapter please visit here.

If you would like to learn more about what Net Impact is doing, including more about the 2012 Conference, please visit here.

~ Guest Blogger, Allison Takeuchi, Full-Time Class of 2012