Penn State Smeal MBA, undergraduate Net Impact students travel to conference

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- More than 30 Smeal College of Business students from the Penn State undergraduate and MBA chapters of Net Impact, a national organization focused on sustainability in business, attended the organization’s annual conference held at the end of October in San Jose, Calif.

According to Marcus Cullen, president of the Penn State Smeal MBA chapter, the conference united leaders in various social impact careers with graduate and undergraduate student chapters, providing opportunities for learning and networking.

Cullen said that many of the Penn State Smeal master of business administration students conducted informational interviews with attending company representatives, and that this was a valuable networking experience for students looking for full-time opportunities or internships in impact areas like corporate social responsibility and sustainability.

“The experience showed me that there truly is a demand to be sustainable and responsible with every action we make in our lives.”

--Ethan Espina, vice president of corporate relations, Penn State undergraduate Net Impact chapter

Colin Gannon, the Penn State undergraduate chapter’s executive vice president, met with Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell’s Soup, along with about 15 other students.

Gannon, a finance major, also attended many of the finance-related breakout sessions, including those on impact investing.

“I had no idea that there were groups of people dedicated to putting together funds that support companies that are socially and environmentally conscious,” said Gannon. “This area of finance is definitely one that I would like to investigate more in the future.”

One of the most important takeaways from the conference for both undergraduate and graduate students was that impact careers in various areas are on the rise, and there are likeminded people who want to make a positive impact on the world through their work.

Even many large corporations, such as Best Buy and Microsoft, place an emphasis on corporate sustainability and have their own Net Impact chapters.

“The experience showed me that there truly is a demand to be sustainable and responsible with every action we make in our lives,” said Ethan Espina, vice president of corporate relations for the undergraduate chapter.

Sustainability has been an increasing focus for Smeal in recent years, both in curriculum and research. Added undergraduate curriculum options in sustainability, as well as a formal concentration in Sustainability in Social Innovation for Penn State Smeal MBA students, provide more concerted efforts to bring issues in sustainability to the classroom. Through the Smeal Sustainability Council, a center dedicated to the study of sustainable business practices, the college has offered support to increase sustainability-related research projects among faculty and doctoral students.

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Last Updated November 26, 2013