The 2016 Net Impact Conference was presented with the theme of Making History. Each session was crafted to encompass this spirit, and to positively shape the creation of ideas. In just three short days, thousands of enthusiastic leaders alongside aspiring leaders were brought together, representing hundreds of Net Impact chapters, to engage in hundreds of events consisting of panels, break-out sessions, competitions, and networking events. The icing on the cake was the curation of passionate and inspiring keynote speakers.
The Net Impact Segal Chapter here at the Beedie School of Business sent two current executives to represent Simon Fraser University in this bustling conference of entrepreneurs and change-makers. Robert Hamill, the Vice President, and Dasha Taikh, the Director of Communications happily took this opportunity to spend the weekend in their element. They have returned more knowledgeable, inspired, and ready to share highlights of the conference. This was made possible by funding put forward from the Beedie School of Business, staying true to the commitment of encouraging learning, new experiences, and growth.
Robert Hamill: “A great start to the conference on Thursday with an interactive boot-camp led by Jaymin Patel, a former management consultant and recruiter. He now works to inspire and shape future leaders, providing insights and tools to stand out and take successful strides on a career path. Jaymin highlighted the importance of identifying and leveraging your existing network, and clearly articulating your goals”.
The evening closed off with talks from the CEO of Etsy Chad Dickerson, who provided insight about his company’s entrepreneurial support and drive for equal rights; and Co-Founder and Marketing Director of Sustain Natural who spoke from the heart about awareness, health, and her drive to empower women. Attendees left feeling eager for the next day to start.
The Friday morning started off in an unexpectedly powerful and impactful manner with speeches from two inspiring leaders. Jay Coen Gilbert, the Co-Founder of B-Lab and Alicia Garza, the Co-Founder and Special Project Director of #BlackLivesMatter and National Domestic Workers Alliance, brought to light the vital importance of social movements and potential for change. Alicia Garza gracefully reminded the audience that no one individual starts a movement, rather we can all contribute to the life of movements that exist around us, movements pushing for social change and betterment of our societies and world. She ended by lending us the fragile realization that none of us are free without all of us being free together.
The next session continued to push boundaries by delving into the confessions of leaders that took the leap to start their own social entrepreneurship ventures. Leaders spoke about struggles of really defining their passion, leaping into vulnerable places personally and professionally, and overcoming challenges of start-up businesses. This brings a very important question: What is the GAP between YOU and SUCCESS?
The Net Impact Conference showed responsibility by showcasing companies at different stages in sustainable growth. The afternoon keynote speakers, Doug McMillon, President and CEO of Walmart; and Mark Alexander, President at the Campbell Soup Company, took the opportunity to share steps their companies are taking in the direction of sustainability and social responsibility. This led fluently into the next session introducing the idea of Taking Purpose to Scale. Social entrepreneurs at varying stages of progress and growth took time to share their stories of sustainably growing their companies while maintaining integrity to social and environmental impact. A clear progression was offered by Kavita Shukla, the CEO and Founder of FreshPaper.
Friday sessions closed off with a high invigorating session on emerging technology. The panel was composed of professionals excelling and leading their field. The discussions led to eye-opening insight into the quickly advancing world of technology. The panel led conversation on potential uses for technology, how life-changing but also uncertain it can be. The participants were encouraged to consider not only incredible opportunities of technological advances, but also ethical issues that come along with changing standards. This session focused on data collection, specifically biodata. A future for us all to consider that is in fact now all around us. These advances and how they are used are what will make history.
The last day of the conference though stung with a distant pang of early nostalgia was equally engaging and inspiring. The highly educational session on food systems and food waste hosted leaders making change on local levels, national levels, and international levels. A unique moment in this session was the opportunity to hear the CEO of the Philadelphia Conference Center catering company speak to the steps they are taking to ensure sustainable practices.
Robert Hamill and Dasha Taikh had the distinct pleasure to close the afternoon by presenting at the Chapters Best Practices session, engaging young Net Impact Chapter leaders alongside notable leaders from undergraduate, graduate, and professional chapters. Robert and Dasha were proud to represent the amazing work done by last year’s executive team, which set up the Net Impact Segal Chapter here at the Beedie School of Business achieving the first year of gold status. Engaging with a roomful of driven leaders, Robert and Dasha are looking forward to working with the current executive team to continue on the path of success set by leaders Grace Potma, Spencer Westlake, Jacquie Norris, Saman Moradi, Harshil Cherukuri, and Rylan Dobson, with the unwavering support of Stephanie Reimer and Stephanie Bertels.
Saturday evening appropriately closed with a strong force of inspiration for each attendee to take and build on. The keynote speakers shared powerful messages of perseverance, hope, strength, overcoming adversity, and the realization of potential for change. The speakers showed each person in the room that change is possible, that it is time of each of us to take the next step, and make history.
Our Simon Fraser University representatives at the 2016 Net Impact Conference are thrilled to have this opportunity to learn about new industries, build and share new ideas, engage in thoughtful and provoking discussions with peers from all around the world, and to take the next step to make history. This is only further affirmed by the networking power of such a conference, and the interest from other chapters in our very own SFU Sustainability Challenge. We look forward to an exciting year with Net Impact Segal Chapter.
Dasha Taikh is an MBA Candidate at the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Calgary, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology. Dasha is currently the Director of Communications at the Net Impact Segal Chapter. She has experience in non-profit management and the music industry with a strong focus on management of volunteers. Dasha is passionate about marketing, leadership development, mental health, and community building. Find out more about Dasha through LinkedIn or contact her via e-mail.