The Sustainable Business & Social Impact (SBSI) conference is hosted by the Net Impact Club at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. It is the largest event of its kind in the Southeast and the largest student-led conference at Fuqua. Each year, the conference brings together hundreds of attendees and speakers from the public, private and social sectors to discuss innovative business models, collaborations and partnerships and ideas that are creating lasting impact around the world.
“Last year’s SBSI showed our community that impact really is everywhere and that it will increasingly become a part of the average business school student’s career, regardless of function,” said Alex Marchyshyn, one of this year’s conference organizers. “This year, we are excited to build on that with this year’s theme to showcase how innovation can help us solve some of our most pressing social and environmental challenges.”
In preparation for this year’s SBSI, “Innovating for a Better World,” on February 12, 2020, CASE decided to chat with Alex and the other student leaders in the Net Impact Club who are organizing this year’s conference to hear what they are excited about for the upcoming event:
1. Q: Why is “Innovating for a Better World” the theme for SBSI 2020?
A: As companies and organizations set ambitious social and environmental goals, we have seen innovation emerge as a key component to driving impact at scale. Whether learning how to use technology for good, identifying new financial mechanisms to drive progress or embedding new ideas into the value chain, innovation is shaping the next ten years of impact.
2. Q: What is your biggest goal for SBSI 2020?
A: We really want to reach out to a broader Fuqua audience this year. This is the fifteenth year of the conference and we have welcomed thousands of attendees from across the country over the years. This year, the one thing we want to focus on is getting more Fuqua participation, which is why we have speakers spanning multiple industries and sectors to appeal to a variety of interests.
3. Why did you want to be involved in planning and executing SBSI 2020?
A: We are extremely honored and humbled to be involved with planning SBSI 2020 because it is a really unique opportunity for business school students, who are going to go on to lead companies that have major impact, to learn more about how sustainability and social impact can and should play a role in their future career – whether that is in the “traditional” social impact space or not.
4. Q: What are you excited about for SBSI 2020?
A: We are excited to welcome two powerhouse keynote speakers, Jason Rahlan, Director of Social Impact and Philanthropy at Chobani, and Karen Beadle, Senior Director, Partnerships and Engagement for SM&S at Nike, as well as individuals from many big brands leading innovations to solve some of our most pressing issues. In general, we like that SBSI brings together leaders from varying backgrounds within sustainability and impact to discuss how their sectors overlap and how we can all work together to improve the world.
5. Q: Why do you think a conference like SBSI is important?
A: Social impact and sustainability seem to be at a pivotal point right now, with the Business Roundtable commitment coming out at the start of this academic year, as well as the latest BlackRock letter. Businesses are finding new ways to integrate social impact, purpose and sustainability into their core practices and strategies. This is requiring a new level of innovation that we haven’t seen across sectors and industries and we think that SBSI is such an important forum for allowing social impact leaders to get in a room and discuss it.
To learn more about SBSI 2020 and to register to join an array of keynotes, TED talk-style sessions, panel discussions and networking opportunities at the conference, visit the SBSI 2020 website.