Change starts here…

Change starts here…

Change starts here. A simple yet powerful theme for the 2013 Net Impact Conference in Silicon Valley. For three days, thousands of like-minded agents of change from every industry flocked to San Jose to share ideas, and showcase the possibilities of socially responsible business practices. The conference afforded students the opportunity to study a vast array of innovations in the field of sustainability. They were also able to connect with fellow students and professionals who utilize their careers to make positive change in the world.

The University of Oregon’s Net Impact Chapter brought 24 aspiring business leaders to the conference to add to our understanding of how we can play a role in this important movement. The Conference presented a rare opportunity to combine all four centers of the Lundquist College of Business (Center for Sustainable Business Practices, Finance and Securities Analysis Center, Lundquist Center of Entrepreneurship, Warsaw Sports Marketing Center) to collaborate over a shared passion of the University of Oregon: sustainability. The 2013-2014 Net Impact Chapter has some big shoes to fill as the chapter has been labeled “Gold” for years now. To continue a strong tradition, this year’s group hosted a West Coast Mixer the first night of the conference to meet with fellow attendees early and make connections that would enrich the experience of the conference. The mixer was a success with many members staying in touch throughout the conference.

Sustainability isn’t just apart of the curriculum at the U of O, it is apart of our DNA. It is a common thread that connects all students at the Lundquist College of Business and it was great to share our passion with other programs from across the country. From impact investing to supply chain issues, the Net Impact Conference offered something of interest to all stewards of responsible business practices. Want to know more?  Take a look at what some of the students had to say:

Andy Eastoe, Warsaw, Class of 2015

One of the more inspiring conversations at the conference was during the Hult Prize session. The Hult Prize is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurship. Teams of 4-5 students were tasked with a problem and asked to help solve it. Teams then presented their ideas to a panel of judges. The winning group was awarded a one million dollar “seed” to begin their newly created company. The 2013 winner spoke to us about his idea of insect farming as a way to solve the current food shortages in the slums.  While business is often blamed for exacerbating problems in 3rd world countries, it was great to see social entrepreneurship providing real solutions for those in need.  For more information, visit

Blake Thompson, CSBP, Class of 2015

My favorite aspect about the entire conference was the variety of businesses that where there.  You had small tech start-ups, solar companies, food start-ups and large corporations like Dow chemical and Campbell’s soup.  This gave me an insight and opened my eyes to a lot of areas in sustainability that I did not know existed. I am also encouraged that there are so many people in a variety of industries who are trying to spread the word of sustainability and make a difference.

Dayn Hardie, CSBP, Class of 2015

I took a lot from Net Impact. Since it was my first sustainability conference and in the past sustainability had only been an area I explored based on my own interests, I thought it was great to see how much businesses, of all sizes, were doing to promote a sustainable agenda. I learned that you don’t have to create a whole new business based on sustainability, but you can implement sustainable solutions into an existing business to address any issues you might have have an interest in curing. My favorite part was the farm-to-table round table breakout session.

Benjamin Slutz, Undergraduate

The NI13 Conference was a tremendous opportunity for a highly motivated undergraduate student like myself. I went in with a plan (grow my network of people I’d like the privilege to work with) and pursued it with a joyful tenacity that only the hundreds of buzzing MBA minds could assuage. I made 30+ new relationships, all of which I’ve made the point to follow up on so as to secure their future integrity. It was a pleasure to engage so actively with people of such diverse experience. I would love to go again in the future.

Tristan Oker, OLIS Graduate Student

Being a guest at the Net Impact 2013 conference was a delight! I found that although I was an OLIS grad student in a sea of MBA students the climate was not as foreign as I had thought it would be. The Net Impacters took me in as one of their own and made me feel at ease in a place where I didn’t speak the language (of business) or fully understand the culture. I found that some of the most beneficial features of the conference were the career development workshops that taught how to navigate in the emerging industry of sustainable business. Aside from the tangible, the keynote speakers were wonderful. I especially enjoyed the back and forth between the representatives of Sierra Club and Exxon Mobile, it was a great way to start the day. Overall, being around such exciting and positive energy has recharged me as I look to the future of sustainable business initiatives.

Haruka Abe, FSAC, Class of 2014

The keynote on the very first day was a good way to kick off the conference and get energized. Caryl M. Stern talked about her great life story to save children all over the world. It inspired me and makes me think about what I can do to inspire change. Thanks to her inspiring speech I actively sought ideas about how I can make change throughout my career, instead of listening to each breakout seminar passively. I look forward to bringing all the inspiration back to the MBA program.

Kate Kostal, Warsaw, Class of 2015

Though I am in a different center I found Net Impact to be eye opening. The sheer volume of breakout sessions was inspiring by itself. There were many themes in different presentations that transcend center focus, which made missing College Gameday easier to take. I particularly enjoyed learning how profitability, intelligence, and sound planning were valued almost as much as passion for sustainability. It shifted my view of green initiatives.

Shawn Ohki, Undergraduate

As an undergraduate student taking his first upper division business courses this term, I headed into the Net Impact National Conference with the intent to absorb as much knowledge and insight as I could. Not only did I learn a great deal about how corporations are practicing sustainability, I also experienced what it felt like to be surrounded by sharp-minded, driven individuals from all over the country in a professional environment. The most memorable experience was having dinner with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur in the app industry and a New York City banker as they had a heated debate on the future of China’s sustainability efforts. The conference allowed me to come in contact and network with professionals and students who are leading the charge in this growing field of business.

The University of Oregon is already looking forward to next year’s conference!



Written by

Ryan Strub is a second year MBA student in the Finance and Securities Analysis Center. He currently works as an Acquisitions Analyst for ScanlanKemperBard Companies, a Portland based real estate merchant banker. Ryan plans on developing socially responsible communities upon graduation.