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Lessons Learned from the 2014 Net Impact Conference

Eight members of the graduate and undergraduate Net Impact chapters at NC State University attended the 2014 Net Impact Conference held November 6-8, 2014, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Following are among the key highlights and lessons learned from the conference.

Second-year Jenkins MBA Student
Vice president of marketing, NC State Graduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Kayla EarneyToyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc., (TEMA) makes its knowledge of lean processes and efficiency – The Toyota Production System (TPS) – available to nonprofits and community oganizations through the Toyota Production System Support Center, Inc., a not-for-profit affiliated with TEMA. Since its inception in 2011, nearly 200 companies and organizations have used its services. One example mentioned at the conference was how it partnered with the New York Food Bank to assist with food distribution to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. The lesson learned from the partnership between Toyota and the New York Food Bank is that it is rewarding to help a community get back on its feet.

Second-year Jenkins MBA Student
Vice president of operations and finance, NC State Graduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Clay GieseThe Net Impact Career Expo provided me with an incredible opportunity to network with recruiters from sustainability-minded companies and organizations. I was able to learn about sustainability initiatives and share my passion (and resume) with recruiters from Target, 3M, the Environmental Defense Fund and Alcoa. Overall, the networking opportunity empowered me in my search for a full-time job and gave me even more confidence to follow my passion to make the world a better and more sustainable place from within a company.

First-year Jenkins MBA Student
Sustainability Initiative Student Leader

Photo of Padmaja SoundararajanWith the diversity in the panels and sessions, I was able to gain an understanding of how sustainability can be incorporated into various types of industries, irrespective of the function they perform. The session on how businesses in the carpet, casino and alcoholic beverages industry inspired me the most as I learned how they incorporated sustainability into their everyday work. I have realized that we can create an impact in the society no matter what business we are in. The career expo reflected that, helping me to understand how various roles can create an impact. The expo gave me a wonderful opportunity to connect and network with people who think likewise.

Junior, NC State College of Engineering, Chemical Engineering
Vice president of external relations, NC State Undergraduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Ryan KilgoreAttending the NI conference gave me a much better understanding of NI and its mission. I was able to experience the unique opportunities that are available to those who wish to have an impactful career and how NI can help foster those opportunities. Through the conference I was able to gather valuable advice and ideas from other students who have started their own chapters and the ways in which they were able to grow their chapters. That is especially applicable to me, as part of the leadership and development team for the undergrad chapter of NI at NC State. Our chapter is in its infancy and is just beginning to make a mark on our campus. I am very excited to begin working on the ideas that I was able to bring back and I hope to see the chapter grow tremendously in the next couple of years.

Senior, Poole College of Management, business administration
Vice President of events, Undergraduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Marlen TraberThe conference was an amazing experience. I learned a lot about the very broad field of responsible business practices and how it makes a positive impact on people, the environment and the economy. Also, meeting so many different people who pursue their personal and unconventional career path encouraged me immensely to use my career to tackle an issue I’m passionate about.

Second year NC State Jenkins MBA Student
Vice president of events, Graduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Mike MaherBefore heading to the conference I had an impression that if I wanted to make a positive change in my career it had to be with a company whose sole mission was to give back to the community and/or protect the environment – meaning a smaller company, most likely. At the conference, I learned that change can be made from anywhere in most conventional business roles. The largest companies have the biggest levers that can be pulled, resulting in changes that no small company can ever match simply through its economies of scale. It’s nice to know that whatever sector and role we find ourselves in, we can make a positive impact, big or small, in our daily job responsibilities.

Junior, College of Natural Resources, Environmental Sciences
Vice president of finance and operations,  NC State Undergraduate Net Impact Chapter

Photo of Amelia FujikawaFrom an undergraduate standpoint, my experience at the 2014 Net Impact conference was extremely eye-opening. Due to being surrounded by so many professionals who have excelled and continue to succeed in the CSR field, I was able to absorb so much information that will help me in the future. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the progress of others.” Paul Polman recited this quote during his keynote session, and I felt my attitude about the conference shift. As an undergraduate, I realized that it was more valuable to learn about the success stories and the journeys of the speakers as opposed to jumping into the career aspect of the conference. I was amazed to be in the presence of such well-known corporations, but it was humbling to learn how each individual climbed the ladder of success. This shift allowed me to enjoy the conference in a new light and I left feeling incredibly inspired.

The NC State Net Impact chapters (graduate and undergraduate) are open to all students at NC State interested in sustainability topics. Jessica Thomas, director of the Sustainability Initiative at Poole College, is the chapter’s advisor.


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