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Resources to Explore Impact Investing

Everyone wants to have a positive impact on the world and often people choose to make a difference through their careers. Whether you’re an undergraduate planning your future or you're simply looking for that next big career move, Net Impact is your resource to explore careers with impact.

One of the careers we are most excited about is impact investing; an investment approach with the intention to generate financial returns alongside measurable, positive social and/or environmental impact. Net Impact has two ways you can get involved with impact investing and so many resources to set you on your career path:

1. Impact Investing Portal

Net Impact, supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, created an impact investing portal with the resources you need to learn more about the field, the opportunity to watch videos from practicing experts, and the ability to chart your own career path.

The portal covers the fundamentals, such as the impact investing spectrum, sectors, and challenges in the field. The career guide lets you match your skills, preps you for interviews, and even gives you a list of graduate schools for impact investing. Informational videos allow you to hear from industry leaders including; Lauren Booker Allen, Senior Manager, Impact Investing at Omidyar Network and Dave Chen, Adjunct professor at the Kellogg School of Management. Finally with all your knowledge on the field you can head over to our jobs board and look for openings.

The career portal is your online classroom for impact investing, see if the field is right for you.  View the video with Dave Chen below:

2. 2016 Net Impact Conference

Now that you have learned the fundamentals from our impact investing portal, you can engage with industry leaders, gain skills in workshops, and network with other like-minded peers at the 2016 Net Impact Conference. We have packed NI16 with supportive programming for those aspiring a career in impact investing.

Here’s two examples:

Green Money: Crafting an Instrument To Invest With Impact with Dave Chen

Yes, the same Dave Chen from our impact investing portal (and the video above) is also speaking at the 2016 Net Impact Conference. In this workshop, experts will share where to start when crafting financial mechanisms specifically designed for institutional impact investing, and attendees will walk away with the knowledge to craft investment instruments that make a lasting impact.

Impact Investing: Leaders Pushing for Definition and Direction

How are key players defining impact investing and forecasting what’s next? The emergence of impact investing into the social sector spotlight has led to much debate over its categorization and purpose. Is it new or old, solution-focused or return-focused, the next venture capital, or something entirely different? Veteran impact investors and venture capitalists convene on this panel to bring definition and direction to the field of impact investing.

Net Impact has the resources you need to learn more about Impact Investing.
Net Impact has the resources you need to learn more about Impact Investing.

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Are You Interested in Social Entrepreneurship?

We’re here to help.

Whether you’re looking to launch a whole new venture or join an existing social enterprise aligned with your passions, this exciting field gives you the opportunity to apply innovative approaches to create scalable solutions.

We've packed the 2016 Net Impact Conference with workshops, panels, and speakers to give future and current social entrepreneurs (like you) skills and connections to make a lasting impact. 

Here’s our top three can’t miss events for social entrepreneurs:

Confessions of a Social Entrepreneur

Looking for advice to maximize your impact as a social entrepreneur? Here’s your chance to learn from three social entrepreneurs who have come before you. The panel, consisting of CEO of MilkCrate, the founder of Innov8social, and the founder of BuildingTomorrow, will share what it took to get where they are today, revealing their honest perspective and approach to impact. 

Closing Keynotes

We have two closing keynotes who are leading the field in social entrepreneurship:

Kiah Williams is the co-founder of SIRUM, described as the for unused medicine. The social enterprise has redistributed over four million units of medicine worth $5.6 million across 4 states. SIRUM is saving medicine and saving lives. 

Ahmad Ashkar is the CEO and founder of the Hult Prize Foundation, the $1 million competition for social good. The Hult Prize Foundation was named by TIME Magazine as one of the top five initiatives changing the world.

NI16 Pitch Competition

Come listen to eight emerging social entrepreneurs pitch their ideas at the first Net Impact Pitch Competition. They will have four minutes to convince a panel of expert judges and the audience that they are pioneering the next world-changing idea. As an attendee, you’ll have a chance to pick your favorite, and you’ll leave this competition inspired, and just maybe, with the motivation to launch your own social venture.

Are you ready to take on social issues with us? Don’t miss out, register now for the 2016 Net Impact Conference. 

Take on Social Issues at NI16
Take on Social Issues at NI16

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Starting a Job Search? Focus on the Big Picture

You’re ready to begin job searching, what do you need to do? Probably start by taking a deep breath (don’t let the stress get to you) and then update your resume, start fostering connections, and make sure your Linkedin profile is in great condition. 

Linkedin has become a staple for job search success and as they say “a picture’s worth a thousand words.” So let’s focus on the Linkedin profile picture, because it actually really is important. Here we will share why it’s so important to have a profile picture and how you can get the right one at the 2016 Net Impact Conference.

So why is it so important? Here’s three reasons:

1. Credibility

According to Linkedin, profiles that are complete are 40 times more likely to receive opportunities through Linkedin than incomplete profiles. Often “spam” profiles exist to sell products or collect information and these type of profiles often have no profile picture. You don’t want to be incorrectly placed in that category, it’s not a good look to recruiters. 

2. Recognition 

One of the best tips for job search success is to network. That way you can leverage the network of people you have to help you find a job and be your references; your professors, your friends, your family, your friends’ family, and so on. You want to be recognizable on Linkedin so people already in your network will be able to find you. There might be a long list of people with your same name, a picture will make sure they connect with the right one, you!

3. Personal Branding

Your photo is a unique opportunity to express who you are; your visual brand. Linkedin has said entries in Linkedin search results with photos are seven times more likely to be clicked on than entries without photos. So make yourself look appealing. 

Keep it Professional

So now you know that you need a great picture for Linkedin, but how do you get one? It’s not as simple as taking a selfie or as casual as a Facebook or Twitter profile picture would be. You want to look professional, have a background that is not too distracting, and make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame. And we can’t forget about the expression, you want to look approachable without smiling so wide that you look crazy.

Sound complicated to get the photo right? Don’t worry, we are here to help. Linkedin is one of our sponsors at the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia this November 3-5. They will have a booth set up to take your profile picture and with their advice on your pose, it’s sure to be a success.  

Why having the right photo on Linkedin is really important
Why having the right photo on Linkedin is really important

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Are you passionate about Climate Change?

So are we.

That's why we packed the 2016 Net Impact Conference with climate related programming. From workshops and panels to speakers and exhibitors, if you are ready to tackle climate change, NI16 is the place to be!

Here’s some of what you can expect: 

1. Climate Themed Panels

Experience live discussions on our most pressing issues and innovative approaches to solve them. Here’s one of our upcoming panels:

Grid 2.0: Decreasing the Energy Market's Carbon Footprint 

In this energetic session, experts from the Alliance to Save Energy will detail creative approaches and cross-sector collaborations that are elevating renewable energy’s contribution to the energy grid and share what challenges and opportunities lie ahead.

2. Personal Stories

Hear leaders in the private sector share what they are doing to impact the climate:  

Keeping the Climate Momentum Going After COP21

In Paris last fall, 195 nations signed a historic agreement to reduce carbon emissions. In this deep dive session, leaders in the private sector, including the Chairman of CO2 Sciences, will share what they're doing in the wake of COP21 and what challenges are ahead.

3. Workshops 

Gain skills and connections through our workshops that are themed around climate and the environment, check out this workshop:

Earth to Leadership: How to Communicate Climate Solutions

In this interactive workshop, Climate Reality Project and the World Wildlife Fund will help participants develop messaging strategies and powerful pitches to enable leadership to understand the opportunities provided by climate solutions.

4. Speakers

Watch inspiring leaders speak on how they are leading change, like one of our keynote speakers Jay Coen Gilbert:

Jay Coen Gilbert is one of the three co-founders of B Lab, a nonprofit organization that serves a global movement of people using business as a force for good. Its vision is that one day all companies will compete not only to be the best in the world, but the Best for the World, and as a result society will enjoy a more shared and durable prosperity.

5. Exhibitors

Engage with representatives from international corporations, innovative nonprofits, and social enterprises on the cutting edge of sustainability. Here’s one of our many exhibitors: 

Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. They find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems. 

Ready to put your passion for tackling climate change into action? Register now for the 2016 Net Impact Conference.

A guide to our climate and environment track at the 2016 Net Impact Conference.
A guide to our climate and environment track at the 2016 Net Impact Conference.

Georgia Tech Chapter Visits Coca-Cola

Having a career that invokes warm fuzzies has always been important to me. That’s why I was drawn to the nonprofit sector and found myself working in education marketing.

I didn’t know it was possible to find like-minded people in the business world. So when I was deciding whether or not to pursue an MBA, I was overjoyed to learn about Net Impact and its emphasis on business that promotes the greater good.

Throughout the last two years in Net Impact, by hearing from industry speakers and participating in career workshops, I’ve gained a new perspective on how a career that relates to sustainability might look.

We are fortunate at the Scheller College of Business because we have the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business, which has resources and dedicated sustainability-focused MBA courses. Last spring, I took a course called Business Strategies for Sustainability, which provided a nice overview of traditional business areas and how sustainability issues relate to each.

Now, as VP of networking for the Georgia Tech MBA Net Impact chapter, I’m excited to connect fellow students with industry professionals who work in different areas related to sustainability.

To kick off the school year, I organized a company visit to the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, just down the street from our campus. One of my goals for networking is to utilize the Georgia Tech MBA network — so we can see what alumni who were in our shoes not too long ago have achieved.

I’d recently heard about some of Coca-Cola’s sustainability initiatives in the Business Strategies for Sustainability course. Projects related to empowering women entrepreneurs and water stewardship piqued my interest, and I knew they would for our chapter members as well. A Georgia Tech MBA alumna works in global sustainability marketing at Coca-Cola, so she was the perfect contact to help make the visit happen.

The Coca-Cola team, including staff from the office of the chief sustainability officer, hosted our chapter for an engaging two-hour visit.

First, we heard from the team about the work they are doing to make an environmental and social impact. For instance, EKOCENTER is a social enterprise that provides clean drinking water, basic goods, and power to communities in six different countries. Many of these centers, which serve as a catalyst for community growth, are operated by women as part of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 initiative — a commitment to enable the economic empowerment of five million women entrepreneurs by 2020.

Following the presentation, we toured the facility, including a visit to Robert W. Woodruff’s office; he was president of The Coca-Cola Company from 1923 to 1954 and retained his office through retirement, and it is exactly as he left it in 1985. Another interesting feature along the tour was a flip-disk wall made from recycled PET that only requires the energy of about one light bulb.

The visit was a hit with our chapter members! So many of them have told me how valuable the experience was. This year, I’m excited to organize more visits like this so our chapter can be exposed to different facets of sustainability. And I’m excited to continue to learn and explore both practical and impactful ways to make a difference through business.

Are you interested to visit the world headquaters for Coca-Cola? You will have the opportunity to take a tour and tastings this October 26-28 at the 2017 Net Impact Conference in Atlanta, GA.  The opening party for the 2017 Net Impact Conference will even be taking place at the World of Coca-Cola on October 26!

Georgia Tech MBA Net Impact chapter members with Georgia Tech MBA alumna and Coca-Cola employee Ashley Vanderpoel, in front of Coca-Cola's flip-disk wall
Georgia Tech MBA Net Impact chapter members with Georgia Tech MBA alumna and Coca-Cola employee Ashley Vanderpoel, in front of Coca-Cola's flip-disk wall

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Your Music Motivation for the New School Year

Here at Net Impact, our mission is to mobilize the next generations to use their skills and careers to make a positive impact on the world.  We do this through our challenges and competitions, chapters, and events which provide our members with the skills, experiences and connections they need to have the greatest impact.

Of course, skills and a network aren't the only thing you need to change the world. You need inspiration and motivation too!  That's why, as many of our members head back to school, we're sharing 5 playlists for you to use when you need a little extra push this semester:

1. Study Session

Concentrate and stay focused during those long hours in the library

2. Chapter Meetings

Celebrating your fellow chapter members

3. Up to U$

Songs to help you get the word out about our $19 trillion national debt

4. Design Sprint

Work together on a problem by using human-centered design processes and these remixes

5. Mobility

Songs to get you moving on mobility issues

Search Net_Impact on Spotify to follow us and find all these playlists. Have any suggestions to add to our playlists? Let us know in the comments below!

Make the 2016-2017 school year your best yet
Make the 2016-2017 school year your best yet

Meet Esther, Mobility Challenge Winner

Last year, Net Impact and the Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the Next Generation Mobility Challenge for students to generate solutions to some of the leading issues in transportation and mobility. The winning concept was a proposed app called StreetSmart that would work in conjunction with Toyota’s Project BLAID, providing real-time audio alerts on street conditions for people who are visually impaired. The students who proposed the solution spent their summer working with Toyota Mobility Foundation to build out research on their idea. Now that the summer has come to a close, we’ve spotlighted this summer’s interns. 


Gahyun (Esther) Kim


Industrial Design, Rhode Island School of Design

If you were speaking with a student who is going to participate in the Challenge, what advice would you give them?

Go with an open mind! Think in positive terms and have fun!

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world of mobility and transportation?

As creative makers, we should be constantly asking, "How can we help everyone provide safe and confident mobility and transportation?" I think this goes for everything else, really, but there is a lack of consideration for inclusive design. Something as simple as adding in some kind of sound when the car is moving, or thinking about whether your navigation app is accessible to someone with visual impairment can go a long way. Ask questions like, "Is your building wheelchair accessible?" or "Can a person with visual impairment use your device?" along the process. 

What is something you learned from your internship experience that you weren’t expecting?

This is was my first on-site internship, so I came in with an open mind. But one significant lesson I've learned throughout this internship is figuring out how to overcome the situations when aspects of your project do not work out. The unique part of this internship was that because I got the internship through a design competition, my partner, John, and I were leading our own project integrated to Toyota's product as opposed to being assigned to certain tasks. When you constantly meet obstacles throughout your project development, it's so easy to let it go (cliché, I know). But finding even the smallest possibilities with available resources and applying that in our process was a tough but a vital experience to gain! And part of being able to do that was by being honest not only to ourselves but to our office executives so we can figure out a viable solution together. 

How has interning at Toyota Partner Robotics shaped or changed your future plans?

The internship at Toyota Partner Robotics encouraged me to really think about the vast possibilities to help others through design. I want to create things that have the purpose to help others, and make the world a better place. I think my internship with Toyota Partner Robotics also widened my perspectives on what I want to do in my career. I have been very interested in the field of User Experience (UX) Design, and have been hoping to pursue it after graduating school. But prior to the  internship, I don't think I fully understood the vast possibilities of what UX Design could do. I always – and almost only – associated UX Design with screen interface design, but I quickly saw that it was more about human-centered design, or how your design can actually satisfy the user's needs and communicate through each pain point, rather than simply create sleek designs. 

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience?

Overall, I enjoyed meeting a variety of members of the visually impaired community as part of my user research study. I was so encouraged to meet so many people with visual impairment who are breaking the negative stereotypes pointed towards disabilities and pursuing their careers and education. It was also super inspiring to see what others are doing with the concept of inclusive design and why they are doing what they do. I visited Lighthouse, which is a center for the blind and the visually impaired in San Francisco, and I was amazed to hear that the architect of the center building is fully blind, and that he is actually my alumnus!

If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?

Three is such a small number! First I would invite Sergey Brin because he is one of the founders of Google, who also happens to be an immigrant who grew up in Maryland--like me! I’d love to ask him about how he started Google in his dorm room to living the American Dream. Then I would invite Sugata Mitra, because he is the creator of SOLE, or Self-Organized Learning Environment. My personal passion is to provide better access to education for all students around the world, and I was genuinely inspired by Sugata's TED talk, "The Child-driven Education." Finally, I would invite Salvador Dali, because he is my all-time favorite artist.

In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.
In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.

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Meet Niklaus, Winner of the #NextGenMobility Challenge

Last year, Net Impact and the Toyota Mobility Foundation launched the Next Generation Mobility Challenge for students to generate solutions to some of the leading issues in transportation and mobility. The winning concept was a proposed app called StreetSmart that would work in conjunction with Toyota’s Project BLAID, providing real-time audio alerts on street conditions for people who are visually impaired. The students who proposed the solution spent their summer working with Toyota Mobility Foundation to build out research on their idea. As the summer draws to a close, we spotlight this summer’s interns.

Niklaus Sugiri

Master of Science in Management in Entrepreneurial Leadership (MSEL) at Babson College
Bachelor of Business Administration (BABA) at University of Washington

How did you hear about the Toyota + Net Impact Next Generation Mobility Challenge?

I heard about it through a campus email newsletter.

What was your experience working with an interdisciplinary group of teammates at the event?

It is arguably the best part about being in the challenge for me personally. While I was fortunate to be grouped with teammates that are bright and hard-working, I do believe that we could not have gotten far in the challenge without relying on each other’s strengths. The synergy created by collaborating with people who think differently from each other is evident in our team.

What specific project are you working on this summer?

In my internship, my job is to support the Toyota Mobility Foundation program manager as an independent consultant. The main project, though, is to use my business background to conduct an extensive analysis on existing disability-related technologies and how it can be improved to better solve mobility issues in the future.

What has been your biggest challenge on the internship so far?

Being asked to offer my expertise on a topic that I was completely clueless about when I first started the internship was difficult initially. Before Toyota, my knowledge about disabilities and its technology solutions were extremely limited. As a result, this lack of background knowledge created a steep learning curve that I had to overcome in the early part of my internship. Thankfully, I was able to overcome this difficulty as I made progress in my research and put all the learnings together.

What is your biggest takeaway from the experience?

More than anything else, this internship experience gave me a valuable perspective. Interacting with the community with disabilities and learning about their daily struggles made me realize how much we take simple things for granted. How many of us are constantly thankful that we can see or walk? We might be reminded from time to time through temporary injuries, but that’s it. This experience is a great reminder that I should always be grateful regardless of the difficulties I encounter.

If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?

Stephen Colbert, Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs at the same time. If I can dine with my favorite talk show host, the most charismatic leader, and the greatest visionary in my lifetime, how much better can it get? I’m sure I’ll go home feeling more inspired and lighthearted than I could ever be!

 In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.
In the Toyota Mobility Challenge, interdisciplinary groups of students use human-centered design processes and insider knowledge from Toyota’s mobility experts to generate solutions that have the potential to make a real world impact.

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Magic Bus: Dignified Transport for Urban Slums

Four Net Impact members from our chapter at Earlham College have reached the 2016 Hult Prize Finals for their idea to improve bus transport in emerging markets.

Team "Magic Bus" - Iman Cooper, Sonia Kabra, Leslie Ossete and Wyclife Omondi were selected out of 25,000 applicants for their offline app that commuters can use to book public bus tickets.  Their pilot will take place in Nairobi, Kenya and will measure impact, before the finals at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in September.

Learn more about the transport problem and how Magic Bus is trying to address it in the below video:

Team Magic Bus believes they have a great chance of winning the $1 Million Hult Prize this November and if you think so too, feel free to check out their crowd funding page on Indiegogo.  They will use the funds to build on their beta testing, expanding their service from 5 buses to 20.

Named as one of the top five ideas changing the world by former President Bill Clinton and TIME Magazine, the annual competition for the Hult Prize aims to create and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle grave issues faced by billions of people.  Interested in the Hult Prize? Join us at the 2016 Net Impact Conference where Hult Prize Foundation CEO, Ahmad Ashkar will keynote.

Team Magic Bus - Net Impact members from Earlham College
Team Magic Bus - Net Impact members from Earlham College

5 Tips for Transforming Data into Effective Sustainability Communications

It’s one thing to tell your stakeholders that your company does the right thing; but it’s far more valuable to show them. Sustainability reports and related communication efforts are your company’s opportunity to bring your values to life and substantiate your company’s message. But doing this effectively means taking a step beyond simply providing your stakeholders with data; rather, it’s essential that you also distill that data into digestible communications that are relevant to your stakeholders. By doing so, you can improve trust, strengthen employee advocacy, and enhance your company’s reputation. Here are a few tips on communicating about sustainability effectively: 

1. Research before communicating

Customizing how and what you communicate is an important part of effective communication. Before you begin, make a list of all your stakeholders and research each audience segment. Identify their current knowledge on the subject, which communication channels will resonate and how your efforts address an issue that is (or should be) important to them. Adapting to each audience and understanding that not all data is relevant to all audiences are the foundations of powerful sustainability communications.

2. Be clear about your goals

Stakeholders are less likely to question your motives if you openly share why sustainability is important to your organization and how you established your focus areas and goals. Having clear sustainability goals—that align with your overall company/organizational strategy—will provide your team with structure for what data to focus on and how much emphasis to give to each of your sustainability efforts. Meanwhile, you’ll provide audiences a clear, cohesive message around what’s important you your company, why, and how you’re making progress toward your goals.

3. Communicate what matters and make data meaningful

Raw data can be difficult to comprehend. One of the easiest ways to help your audiences understand is to pair concepts with meaningful images, represent content using infographics, and make large data points relatable. For example, instead of just saying “one million acres,” also say, “that’s equivalent to the size of Delaware.” Helping your audience visualize the information will allow them to easily digest the content, ultimately making it more memorable. 

Also consider using compelling anecdotes and testimonials, short video clips, and interactive elements like online polls, contests, and social media to bring your stories to life.

4. Be transparent, especially on challenges and shortfalls

Trust-building begins with honest and transparent communication. If you want to use sustainability communication as a differentiator, make sure you tell the full story. Take pride in your successes and own up to the things that haven’t gone as well.  Sharing both good and bad news creates credibility and accountability. Audiences today are savvy about “greenwashing,” so honest and authentic communication always resonates best.

5. Encourage ongoing dialogue

Just allowing a way to provide feedback is not enough. The real value is through two way communications. Demonstrate you are listening and open to suggestions for improvement. By encouraging and responding to comments, questions and feedback, you can improve the effectiveness of your communication. 

Distilling complex data into digestible content isn't easy, and you might never be make all your data relevant for all stakeholders. Hopefully through these tips others will understand and appreciate your accomplishments. 

Kristin Dannemiller is the Sustainability Projects Leader at International Paper (NYSE: IP), a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa.

Do you have any tips for effective sustainability communications? Share them in the comments.
Do you have any tips for effective sustainability communicatons? Share them in the comments.