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Lessons on integration from the Ivey Social Impact Conference

Feb 5, 2021

Zoom shot of Ivey students at the Social Impact Conference

Ivey students on Zoom at the virtual Ivey Social Impact Conference.

Rayah Ladak is an HBA1 student and part of the Ivey Social Impact Club executive team as a Section Representative. In her article below, she shares insights from the keynote speakers, workshops, and fireside chats at Integration: The Social Impact Conference, which ran January 30-31.

The theme of the fourth annual Ivey Social Impact Conference was integration, focusing on how social impact is integrated with organizations’ ongoing initiatives, people’s career opportunities, and society’s future growth.

The conference began with a keynote by two speakers from Deloitte: Usha Sthankiya and Katherine Arblaster. Sthankiya leads Deloitte’s Sustainable Finance practice and specializes in Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) and impact investing. Arblaster focuses on issues of sustainability strategy and organizational resiliency at Monitor Deloitte. Both speakers agreed that the current COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to re-engineer economies and re-imagine our future.

Panel: A Conversation on Integration

The opening panel highlighted a range of career pathways within social impact and showcased the diverse industries that can positively impact the world.

Alexandra Baillie, President of Good & Well, a Toronto-based boutique impact investment firm, shed light on how consumer product supply chains are extremely opaque with respect to their operating procedures and are in need of new innovative approaches.

Kevin Taylor, an Associate Director at SVX, an impact investing platform powered by MaRS Discovery District, discussed his non-linear career path and finding his niche in impact investing. He encouraged students to think about specific issues they wish to solve and to leverage their network to incite change.

Richie Bloomfield, HBA ’14, MBA ’18, the Co-Founder of Urban Roots, a non-profit urban farm that addresses the widespread issue of food security, highlighted the importance of listening to yourself despite external pressures. He also discussed how charities and the social services sector can co-operate to achieve desired outcomes rather than competing in the context of COVID-19.

Workshop: LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact

Attendees of the LEAP workshop, participated in a mock due diligence preparation and presentation of ventures where they learned about venture philanthropy and portfolio analysis. The workshop was led by Avery Pasternak, an HBA ’21 candidate who is Portfolio Intern at LEAP, and Kevin Yu, Portfolio Associate at LEAP. The attendees were split into breakout groups to assess five ventures based on their leadership, impact, scalability, and health and readiness. Attendees used prepared information slide decks and assessment metrics before doing group presentations. At the end of the session, the attendees voted on which venture they would invest in.

Workshop: Trellis

Attendees of the Trellis workshop, led by Rebecca Alfred, Charity Relations Lead at Trellis, learned about integrating social impact into the technology field. They participated in a brainstorming exercise to create a social technology that would address food security. Attendees identified accessibility, distribution, and socio-economic inequalities as key issues and suggested ideas that would connect food providers/donors to food banks, such as virtual maps and data-driven pairing methods. Attendees also discussed potential challenges, with a sustainable revenue model being the most prominent obstacle.

Fireside Chat: Social Enterprise

Janice Byrne, an assistant professor of Entrepreneurship at Ivey, moderated a fireside chat with two Ivey alumni who founded and lead their respective social enterprises: Kristine Tran, HBA ’08, Co-Founder of ‘Nufs Superfood Snacks; and Richie Bloomfield, HBA ’14, MBA ’18, Co-Founder of Urban Roots.

‘Nufs Superfood Snacks is a Toronto-based company that creates healthier lifestyles by making nutrient-dense snacks. Tran discussed her pivotal moment when she left her decade-long career in finance to start her own business. She emphasized the importance of trusting yourself and being comfortable with less. Bloomfield described his journey to Urban Roots and encouraged attendees to be patient and intentional when following their passions.

Fireside Chat: Impact Investing

Diane-Laure Arjaliès, an assistant professor of Managerial Accounting and Control, General Management, and Sustainability at Ivey, moderated a fireside chat with two directors in impact investing: Jonathan Shui, Director of Investments at Good & Well, a Toronto-based boutique impact investment firm; and Kevin Taylor, Associate Director at SVX.

Shui recounted his firsthand experience with the evolution of ESG initiatives in the finance industry. Taylor discussed how a foreseeable focus for the industry will be to demonstrate both market-rate returns and measurable impact in order to appeal to more mainstream investors. Both speakers maintained that while social impact is an industry with non-linear career paths, opportunities are increasing and now is the time to capitalize on them.

Workshop: ESG Global Advisors (CPA Ontario)

Attendees of the CPA Ontario workshop, led by Sarah Keyes, Principal at ESG Global Advisors, explored how businesses are integrating ESG factors as well as improved ESG reporting to reflect their progress, subsequently encouraging more businesses to integrate ESG practices. Currently, large mainstream investors are focused on ESG because they believe their portfolios will perform as well as, or better than, those that do not integrate ESG. Along with this, major credit rating companies have integrated ESG factors in the creditworthy assessment of companies, inducing large companies to take initiatives to develop ESG pillars.

Workshop: Waste2Resources

Attendees of the Waste2Resources workshop, led by Leila Nattagh, learned about how science is used to measure impact through the approach of lifecycles. Delegates obtained an understanding of how to measure the carbon footprints of companies and their own household items.

The weekend closed off with Melissa Sariffodeen, HBA ’10, the Co-Founder and CEO of Canada Learning Code, who is dedicated to ensuring that all people in Canada have the critical skills and opportunities to thrive in this increasingly digital world. Sariffodeen focused on five main lessons: discover what drives you, create what you wish existed, collect experiences, create your own narrative, and play the long game.

Integration: The Social impact Conference was an incredible learning experience for all attendees and a testament to the importance of social impact in these trying times. Thank you to all of our speakers and presenters for sharing their expertise; the Social impact Club executive team for planning a great event; conference delegates for attending; and, our generous sponsor, CPA Ontario, for making it all possible.