UConn to Host Business ‘Sustainability Summit’

'I wish to be part of the business revolution'

A woman works at a laptop computer while translucent symbols of sustainability float in the air.

A summit at UConn will bring together scholars and industry leaders to discuss questions of sustainability in business (Adobe Stock).

The School of Business is hosting its second annual Global Business Leadership in Sustainability Summit, addressing issues and ideas shaping sustainability in business, both locally and globally.

The event, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Friday, March 24, will provide students the opportunity to speak with young alumni, business professionals, and other friends of UConn who share enthusiasm for “business for good.’’

“Everyone who has an interest in addressing these challenging issues is welcome to participate in this event,’’ says Arminda Kamphausen, Director of Global & Sustainability Initiatives and the conference organizer. “They will find tremendous value in this summit, including exciting discussions, learning about new initiatives that are underway, and the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.’’

Those planning to attend should pre-register at this link. The event will also be live-streamed.

Robert Bird, professor of business law and the Eversource Energy Chair in Business Ethics, says students and alumni will find the summit inspiring.

Sustainability is an increasingly important priority for organizations, and this summit highlights the variety of ways entrepreneurs, managers, and UConn alumni can have an impact,’’ he says. “I hope this summit will motivate current UConn students to integrate sustainable practices and ideas as part of their career path.”

He says the summit is timely in light of a state investment that seeks to attract and grow startups in climate technology. In October, Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public venture capital arm, launched a $100 million Climate Tech Fund, that will be invested in early-stage companies that are addressing environmental and climate-related issues, including transportation, carbon capture and removal, waste and recycling, and energy efficiency.

“Real change toward sustainability is underway in Connecticut, and the summit shows yet another example of how the School of Business is furthering that effort,’’ Bird says.

Panels to Discuss Current Sustainability Topics

The event, held in Room 106 of the School of Business, begins with registration at 8:30 a.m.

The keynote presentation will be a dialogue on the question “Is ESG Sustainable?’’ featuring Dean John A. Elliott and Dinah Koehler, head of ESG Research at FactSet.

At 9:50 a.m. a panel of experts will speak on “Building Resilient Food Systems.’’ Panelists include alumnus Brian Paganini, vice president and managing director at Quantum Biopower, a food-to-energy facility in Southington; Dan Martens, vice president, North America of Novamont; Stefanie Robles, Food Catalyst at social enterprise trust reSET, Sam King, CFO & Director of Business Development at Blue Earth Compost; and Richard Meinert, an extension educator and dairy expert from the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources.

The next session, at 11:05 a.m., will feature “Young Alumni Making an Impact.’’ Speakers are Radhika Kanaskar, program lead at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston; Liz Wilson, program assistant at Ceres; Duygu Ozcan, PRISM analytics associate at Henkel; and Lily Stiffler, analyst at Arctaris Impact Investors. The panel moderator is Shareen Hertel, professor of political science and human rights at UConn.

The final panel at 11:45 a.m. will feature a discussion about Entrepreneurship, Innovation & VC, featuring professor Ryan Coles and Sara Harari, associate director of innovation and senior advisor to the president and CEO of Connecticut Green Bank.

Grad Student Longs to be Part of Business Revolution

“The feedback from our first summit last year was that people loved it,’’ Kamphausen says. “This year we also have interesting experts and topics of broad interest. Both students and professionals leave these sessions with a great deal of food for thought.’’

“I think the summit will offer both encouraging and challenging ideas. It will address both the reality of where we are in terms of the planet, and where we need to be,’’ Kamphausen says. “I think people will leave with a sense of optimism because they will meet so many changemakers who want to connect with, hear from, and work with others who want to make a difference.’’

MBA candidate Kashish Manchanda, a portfolio manager with the UConn Student Managed Fund and Vice President of the Net Impact Chapter at UConn, is looking forward to the summit. He hopes it will be an opportunity to bridge his academic knowledge with the greater business world.

He says his experience working with non-profits and community advocates has led him to believe that successes can be scaled up to the next level with the help of ESG and social entrepreneurship.

“I am excited to meet people who not only share similar beliefs but also have broken the barriers in this space through innovation finance models and organizational strategies,’’ he says. “In the long run, I wish to be part of the business revolution of this century and add a tangible value to the system.’’