Guest Post by Laura Maio Yague, Sustainability Report Analyst, Governance & Accountability Institute
The Annual Net Impact Conference in the City of Atlanta, Georgia was held on October 26th, 27th and 28th of October and I was one of the fortunate ones to attend. This year was an exceptional event as the organization was celebrating its 25th anniversary under the banner of “Path to Purpose”.
Atlanta welcomed us with an amazing tour “Atlanta Alive: Street Art & Social Justice Tour” during which we discovered the city art scene through its different neighborhoods.
At the same time, we learned and deepen more about its history, social movements and remarkable local figures of the Human Rights like The Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr. The city history of self-improvement of the city, dealing with racism and diverse social injustices made the tour the perfect starting point to get us ready for the immersion into the incredible experience that Net Impact 2017 had to offer.
“PATH TO PURPOSE” That was the main topic of this year’s annual gathering of Net Impact professionals and guest attendees. The organizers wanted to make the audience think about what their purpose in life is, where to address the efforts and how to define our career.
The powerful idea of this year’s event was to bring together a large group of passionate students and young professionals from around the world to seek an innovative thinking to find solutions for the most pressing challenges of our time.
An intense and variety of sessions, panels, round-table discussions and activities were programmed for these three days to talk and address different issues about sustainability, environment, governance, social responsibility and social impact.
The sessions embraced topics from different fields and perspectives, ranging from technical to social aspects. An example: Global Development, Corporate Impact, Food or Startups & Tech. The various panels targeted topics of interest for students and professionals alike. Students could participate in panels such as ‘Building Equity and Inclusion on Campus’ or sessions for One-on-One Coaching, with mentors and experimented professionals.
For those whose careers are taking off and were looking for encouragement, information on specific fields and advise, there were interesting panels which provided personal and professional guidance, such as Careers with Purpose: Building skills-based Volunteering into Any Organization, or ‘How to align Who You Are with What You Do.
The offer was very extensive, and I was really excited for attending many of the sessions. Facing difficult choices, I finally decided to participate in the following panels:
- Leading with the Triple Bottom line: Creating Shared Value Through Business’; this panel presented interesting stories and personal experiences of people driving CSR and sustainability forward in their companies.
- The next wave of strategic Philanthropy and Impact investment’ analyzed the current solutions for companies to get the right financial support.
A few sessions related to food:
- Farm to trash: Disrupting the Food Waste Epidemic
- A Dialogue with Monsanto: Our Perspective on Food System For the Future.
Both of these sessions included activities bringing to our table a real case for which the audience was encouraged to find a sustainable solution.
- NI17 Pitch Competition. I think this session reflected the real meaning and spirit of the conference. Young students presented ideas of either models or real businesses with a social impact. They upheld their work to convince the audience for a vote in order to get some economic resources to turn their dream into a real startup. It was a hopeful and vibrant moment.
In addition, each of the Keynote sessions united the whole audience in the big Auditorium with exceptional speakers sharing their personal experiences and stories.
Speakers shared with us how they built their impact projects related to fair trade, climate change solutions, human rights advocacy, all of them under the idea of following a purpose. They were very driven and motivating.
I would like to make a special mention for Paul Hawken, Executive Director, Project Drawdown and Derreck Kayongo, CEO, National Center for Civil and Human Rights, for their encouraging and inspiring speeches. It is also remarkable a common point of all the speakers: their positive and resilience attitude to undertake challenges and problems in life.
There was also free time to enjoy the city and its tourist attractions, such as the welcome party at the World of Coca-Cola and the Aquarium Sips Under the Sea Party. Those were enjoyable and really fun places which provided a cordial and relaxed climate for networking and continue meeting interesting people with common concerns and similar objectives.
There was a special atmosphere around the whole conference. Net Impact is the right place to elevate and bolster your career. This opportunity to share experiences with a multidisciplinary group of people with similar goals is really motivating.
Through the sessions you are able to do networking, acquire knowledge and discover new fields. It is a very enriching and fulfilling experience. I would highly recommend to anyone whose purpose is to build a society that is sustainable, equitable and fair for all. This is a good place to start to take action.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Laura Malo Yague was graduated from Escuela de Ingenieria y Arquitectura de la Universad de Zaragoza in Industrial Technical Engineering, Industrial Electronics with Diploma in Business Management from IE (Spain). She recently finished an Advanced Diploma at New York University, in Monitoring and Evaluation (project management for the United Nations, governments and not-for-profits). Laura is a Corporate Reporting Analyst with G&A Institute.