Note: This post was uploaded on behalf of one of my awesome bloggers, Valerie Liang. – Catherine Limcaco, Senior Media Manager
This year, the annual Net Impact conference took place in Oregon, drawing undergraduates, graduates, and professionals together for a weekend of discussion and exploration revolving around a single question: how can leaders use business to benefit not just the bottom line, but the people and planet as well?
For the 15 students that went as part of the Net Impact Berkeley undergraduate chapter (the Haas MBA chapter sent 50!), our Friday began with waking up at 6:30 am. Other undergraduate chapters in attendance included Indiana University, New York University, and USC among others.
There were seven different sessions where attendees could choose different panels to attend in each session. Despite the plethora of topics covered, I decided to focus on the topic of impact investing. While Net Impact Berkeley has mainly a focus on consulting for companies on issues related to corporate responsibility or sustainable business practices, I thought it would be a good idea if a club on campus focused on impact investing. While a relatively new concept to the mainstream investor, the panel focusing on impact investing during each of the seven sessions was completely packed.
David Chen, a speaker for my first panel and the moderator for one of my later ones, was particularly inspiring. As an impact investor for Equilibrium Capital, he explained his views on the finance industry today and how important impact investing would become. He had recently interviewed the CEO of Federaline Investments, which manages over 20 billion in assets who told him that that sustainable investing would soon be the dominant form of investing. He emphasized that while impact investing was considered an asset class on its own, seeing as how impact investing was associated with philanthropy therefore investing at a loss. That is not the case today. Several other panelists throughout the conference concurred on this point.
The conference had hundreds of sponsors, including major companies like Boeing, Johnson and Johnson, as well as its main sponsor Nike. Free stuff is always nice, but Fedex had a fleet of bicycles at the event for participants to rent out for a couple hours and see the city. The ride came with a nice, bright orange Fedex water bottle as well. Unfortunately, this story ends here, as we did not get a chance to ride the bicycles, as there were other priorities as the end of the day.
All in all, I flew away from Portland with a cool water bottle that looks like a small plastic bag and a better sense of what I want from my career in business aside from the bottom line.
For more information on Net Impact Berkeley visit: http://niberkeley.org/undergraduate/
– Valerie Liang, Class of 2013