Thanks to generous support from the Center for Global Leadership and the Clay Center at the Villanova School of Business, three members of business society Business Without Borders (BWB) travelled to San Jose, California, for the Net Impact Conference in October 2013. As a chapter of Net Impact, an international organization of business students concerned with social responsibility, BWB strives to educate Villanova students on the reality of sustainable and socially responsible business solutions. This year’s attendees, Katie Schaad ’14 VSB, Ryan Hagen ’14 VSB, and Vidhi Shah ’15 VSB, were afforded the opportunity to attend numerous workshops, lectures, and roundtable discussions with fellow undergrads, graduate students, and professionals on opportunities for businesses to create positive social and environmental impact.
Keynote speakers included the president of micro-lending platform Kiva, Premal Shah, TOMS shoes founder Blake Mycoskie, and CEO of DoSomething.org, Nancy Lublin. According to Ryan Hagen, “Hearing from business and thought leaders who are addressing these issues daily got me to think about them in new ways.” The issues Ryan refers to range from energy consumption and recycling to lack of accessible sustainable food, all of which were focused on throughout the weekend. For Vidhi Shah, an Accounting and Finance double major, the sessions on impact investing were of particular interest. Impact investing, “isn’t mainstream but it’s investing for the greater good,” Vidhi explained. Marketing major Katie Schaad attended sessions that reflect her marketing interests including a panel entitled “Iconic Brands: Raising the Sustainability Bar to Drive Innovation” on which executives from Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola and Levi’s shared their companies’ social responsibility strategies. Katie shared, “These iconic name brands are making sustainable choices, not because they have to, but because it’s just good business. Many people don’t understand that sustainability doesn’t just mean “going green” to save the environment, it’s about making sure your company will be around for another hundred years.”