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Crossroads: Creating careers with impact

  • Jiya Hai
  • |
  • Jan 31, 2020
Crossroads: Creating careers with impact

Ivey professor Matthew Sooy and panelists Richie Bloomfield (Urban Roots), Kritika Tyagi (EcoPackers), Aroshi Amarasinghe (Ulula), Kara Rijnen (Reimagine), and Amanda Kennedy (Yotuni).

Jiya Hai is an HBA1 student and part of the Ivey Social Impact Club (SIC) executive team. She writes about Crossroads: The Social Impact Conference 2020 and its keynotes, panel discussion, and workshops held Sunday, January 26, 2020, at Ivey Business School.

Delegates at Ivey’s third annual Social Impact Conference came away with great advice from a wide range of speakers on how to build a startup and a career.

The conference kicked off with inspiring keynote speaker Jocelyn Mackie, HBA ’03, and co-CEO of Grand Challenges Canada, an organization that seeds and scales development (primarily healthcare), humanitarian, and Indigenous-led innovations to save and improve lives. Grand Challenges uses a unique financing model to structure products that attract risk-averse players and a gender equality lens when looking at business models.

Mackie left delegates with her thoughts on how to use an Ivey degree for impact, reminding us “with great privilege comes great responsibility.”

Innovation workshops

Delegates also attended workshops with Gonen Hollander, Senior Associate at Amplify Capital, and Mischa Schlemmer, Manager of CityStudio London.

Hollander described how Amplify Capital applies an impact-investing lens to venture capital. The workshop ended with a discussion about exciting innovations used in the fight against climate change. Schlemmer spoke about CityStudio, an innovation hub located at Innovation Works in London, and led an idea-generation exercise as part of her presentation.

Social impact panel discussion

Ivey Assistant Professor Matt Sooy moderated a panel with five changemakers about the mission of their organizations, challenges they face, and their advice for budding leaders.

  • Richie Bloomfield, HBA ’14, MBA ’20 candidate, and founder of Urban Roots, a non-profit transforming vacant space in London into productive farmland, spoke to the challenges of being a non-profit social enterprise;
  • Kritika Tyagi, Chief Operating Officer of EcoPackers, an organization creating 100-per-cent compostable alternatives to plastic, shared how being for-profit is more beneficial to EcoPackers’ ultimate objective. Although it may seem counterintuitive, generating profit allows EcoPackers to meaningfully disrupt industry’s reliance on plastic and be taken seriously by stakeholders;
  • Aroshi Amarasinghe, Sales and Marketing Coordinator of Ulula, a software company that helps de-risk supply chains by collecting feedback from workers about plant circumstances, described how being for-profit helps them leverage client relationships and an ability to scale operations;
  • Kara Rijnen, co-founder of Reimagine, a zero-waste hub that helps people on their waste reduction journeys, emphasized the importance of education and conscious purchasing habits; and,
  • Amanda Kennedy, founder of Yotuni, a social enterprise that runs camps and other programs for at-risk youth, shared the ways in which her personal experiences and those of other Indigenous peoples drove her to work toward decolonization, addressing generational trauma, and empowering other Indigenous women within the social enterprise space.

The panelists’ advice:

  • Address the root causes of inequality;
  • Listen to yourself;
  • Keep an open mind and be willing to change;
  • Burnout is real. Don’t forget to live; and,
  • Change is hard. Don’t just push—dance through the room.

Sustainable startups

A second set of workshops focused on sustainable startups. The first was run by Emma Hogeterp, HBA ’19, from the LEAP Pecaut Centre for Social Impact and Mikaela Ferguson, HBA ’18, from the Boston Consulting Group. The workshop included a discussion about venture philanthropy and the criteria used to select social ventures that are impactful and scalable. The second workshop was run by Natalie White, HBA ’17, from local coffee company, Cafezia. This session showed delegates how they could integrate sustainability into their own startups, and discussed the reasons why companies tackle sustainability and the challenges they may face in doing so.

The conference closed with a keynote from Upkar Arora, CEO of impact investment firm Rally Assets. He explained how there is an increasing focus on using business as a force for good, particularly in the area of climate action, and that the private sector truly has an important role to play. He emphasized a way of approaching life, including internal and external factors, that delegates should strive to incorporate into their career journeys and beyond. The approach centres around Ikigai, a balance found at the intersection between what you love, what you are good at, what you are paid for, and what the world needs.

Crossroads: The Social Impact Conference was inspiring and thought provoking. Thank you to all of our speakers and presenters for sharing their expertise; Three Sisters Catering for providing delicious food; the Social Impact Club executive team for planning a great event; conference delegates for attending; and, our generous sponsors, RBC and the Western University Student Council, for making it all possible.