During the last weekend in October, Atlanta, GA was home to the 25th annual Net Impact Conference. The 2017 edition of this global gathering of students and professionals focused on a theme with great currency of late: finding your "Path to Purpose." The two-and-a-half day program featured riveting keynotes interspersed among panel discussions and workshops that inspired, informed and educated. Available for the choosing were a variety of sessions that delved into individual purpose and those that focused on organizational purpose. But the conference offered much more than that.
As an organization, Net Impact "mobilizes new generations to use their skills and careers to drive transformational social and environmental change" (see www.netimpact.org). Formed as a group of passionate US-based MBA students, just over 25 years ago, the NI reach has extended beyond the graduate level, beyond business and even beyond the nation's borders, with 339 registered chapters in 20 countries across the globe. As a faculty member and adviser to the Rollins MBA chapter, this conference is a fixture on my calendar as a great means to engage with young leaders and top corporations around social and environmental imperatives.
Here are a few of the experiences that stand out for me from the NI17 conference, captured in images:
Boot Camp: From Design Thinking to Design Doing
Pact's Head of Innovation and Design led us on a brief adventure out into the Downtown Atlanta community, to engage in experiential learning and better understand what it means to design with empathy for end-users needs.Purpose Across Sectors
Shannon Schuyler, Chief Purpose Officer at PwC, and other top executives explained to us why purpose matters to them and how it's influencing the way they are transforming their companies and industries. Also featured were Seth Goldman, Co-founder of Honest Tea, Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative, Cheryl Dorsey, President of Echoing Green and Kevin Cleary, CEO of Clif Bar & Company.Purpose in Action
Paul Hawken broke down findings from his book "Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming", including the unexpected impact of empowering girls and women, as a major tool in the fight to limit the effects of climate change.Creating Purpose-Driven Brands
Dave Stangis, VP of Campbell Soup and co-author of "The Executive's Guide to 21st Century Corporate Citizenship", Carol Cone and others discussed how companies can distill their corporate values into a purpose and embed that purpose throughout the company.Academia and Purpose-Driven Education
Stuart Hart, Kirsten Craft and Jason Jay discussed re-imagined frameworks that can shape the next generation of purposeful leaders.Collaboration and the Circular Economy
Leaders from Walmart, Rubicon and other companies discussed the critical role of cross-sector collaboration in moving beyond the "take, make, waste" mindset and towards closed-loop material systems.Paths to Purpose
Aya Hijazi shared her experiences of being jailed as a dissident in Egypt, along with Kerry Kennedy of the JFK Human Rights organization that helped to free her. Kathryn Finney of digitalundivided shared her story of coming into, and living out of, her own purpose.