Conference Reflections from Liz
2011 Net Impact Conference
This year's Net Impact Conference couldn't have come at a more critical time. With corporate responsibility on the tongues and placards of protesting citizens across the world, I welcomed 2,600 attendees by challenging them to ‘occupy Wall Street from the inside’ and leverage their careers to drive transformational world change. Reflecting on the weekend, here’s why I am convinced we’re headed for a more sustainable future.
Optimism is alive and well. As KPMG’s Global Head of Citizenship and Diversity Lord Michael Hastings pointed out, for citizens to change the status quo we have to take a hard look at what really drives us. "The single greatest way to change the world," he said, "is to overcome cynicism." With so many Net Impact members gathered in one room, our optimism was palpable. We aren’t pointing fingers, we are dreaming up the world we want to live in and making it our job to deliver that vision.
Leadership opportunities exist for everyone, TODAY. I was inspired by the array of leadership on display, and the realization there is no age limit, no title, no “right” style that makes a successful leader. I had the pleasure to speak with undergraduate chapter leaders making incredible impacts on their campuses, intrapreneurs changing their companies from traditional day jobs, and renowned entrepeneurs like Darell Hammond, Vail Horton, and Jen Boulden. The one thing they all have in common is that they took the first step, and didn’t wait to make their mark on the world.
We focused on practical solutions and innovation. As REI’s President and CEO Sally Jewell reminded us, “there is no mission without margin, and no margin without mission.” And what better way to meet both mission and margin than reframe sustainability as a story about innovation and opportunity, as Nike’s Hannah Jones encouraged us to do. “Obsess innovation,” she challenged.
I was struck by seeing leading companies and organizations engage Net Impact members to find innovative, yet practical answers. Our members rolled up their sleeves with The Hult Global Challenge to find groundbreaking poverty solutions for three incredible nonprofits, pitched their sustainable business ideas to Walmart, and helped Liquidnet find solutions to transform the charitable giving market.
For those of you who joined us, I can’t wait to see what you’ll do with the inspiration, insight, and connections you brought home with you. For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, we hope to see you in Baltimore from October 26-27, 2012 for our 20th anniversary Net Impact Conference!
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