CESR Stampede – A Success!

stampede final logoOn April 15-19 CESR hosted its first annual CESR Stampede at Leeds: A Week of Driving Values in Business. Over 1200 people turned out for the 16 events targeted at current students, alumni, and the business community in the greater Boulder/Denver area. According to Stampede organizer Francy Milner, also a CESR Instructor, the week was a great success as a showcase for the accomplishments of the Center and CESR students, and a shared vision of how business can contribute to a better world.

Even the heavy snow couldn’t bring down the energy as students, professionals and community members came together on Monday to discuss social enterprise and social impact. The day featured a lunch with Jensine Larsen, founder of World Pulse, an award-winning organization that uses media and empowerment training to give a voice to women change leaders from 190 countries.  In addition, Social Impact day featured a Social Enterprise panel focused on defining the ‘new normal’ for business in the 21st century, hosted by Restorative Leadership Institute founder, Seana Steffen.  Following the panel, participants in an exciting Marketplace of Ideas gathered in an open space forum with local high-impact social enterprises, brainstorming new strategies to evolve their impact.

Stampede Week brought together many experts from their respective fields. CESR faculty member Dave Payne facilitated the ‘New Business Climate’ panel featuring Jim White, Director of INSTAAR, Kate Hamilton, Managing Director of Ecosystem Marketplace and Jason Denner, Founder and Principal of POINT 380. The three panelists provided the factual basis and context for a vibrant moderated panel discussion, addressing the threats and opportunities at the convergence of the science, policy, and business of global climate change.

The fourth annual Conscious Capitalism Conference, CESR’s flagship event, featured inspiring business leaders: Rob Cohen, CEO of IMA Financial Group, Bud Sorenson, Board Member Whole Foods Market and former Dean of the Business School; Mo Siegel, founder of Celestial Seasonings; Andrew Romanoff, Senior Advisor at International Development Enterprises (iDE); and Mark Albion, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of More Than Money Careers and Founder of Net Impact. Attendees also participated in a thought-provoking case study about sustainability at fast-food giant, McDonalds.

Thursday featured more top-notch presenters. At lunch, organics industry panelists talked with attendees about the environmental and economic benefits of the organic industry, as well as efforts to incorporate social and environmental responsibility into their businesses. In the afternoon, two career events were held for students to explore the world of sustainability and social impact. Dr. Mark Albion led a workshop for Leeds students on how to find that dream social impact job, and a panel of leaders in businesses focused on social responsibility and social impact, discussed their personal career paths.

Time Magazine 2002 Person of the Year, and WorldCom Whistleblower, Cynthia Cooper, gave a powerful presentation Thursday evening to an audience of students, local business leaders and community members. Cooper retold her heroic story of whistleblowing with as much passion and conviction as if it were her first time telling the story. Her remarks thoroughly inspired the students and other attendees, who engaged in a lively question and answer session with Ms. Cooper.

Highlights of the week included three student competitions focused on social impact and sustainability. The campus-wide New Venture Challenge Case Competition featured its social impact track on Monday evening. The participating students showed their flexibility by competing over the phone after campus was closed due to heavy snow!

Tuesday night’s Sustainability Showcase displayed student projects, recorded on video, and attendees selected the top projects by vote with a business card, according to Susie Lewis, team lead for the Sustainability Showcase,

“We dreamed up the Sustainability Showcase as a space for students to share the work they’re doing to create a more sustainable business world. We need great minds to come together and share their talents and passion, and the showcase was our way to facilitate these productive collisions among MBA students and working professionals in our community.”

The original idea of a showcase developed into a competition, display and networking opportunity for MBAs, undergraduate students and the business community. First place winner, Justin Dart, a Leeds undergraduate student, commented that “The Sustainability Showcase just goes to show how truly impactful the CESR program has become. It demonstrates that the Leeds School not only gives students the tools to work in the business world, but that it encourages and fosters our dreams to accomplish more.”

The final day of Stampede Week featured a sustainability case competition. Teams of undergraduate students competed to analyze a case study written by two MBA students, proposing effective business strategies for Revision International, a Denver-based social enterprise focused on urban gardening and community development. Event co-organizer Emily Clinton, a Leeds undergraduate, felt it was a successful event “because a lot of undergraduates were interested in participating in the competition.” This was another example of graduate and undergraduate students coming together to produce a meaningful competition and advance the field of social and environmental responsibility.  These events will be a model for Stampede and for Leeds in the future.

All in all it was a great week of collaboration and innovative approaches to responsible and cutting-edge business. We are already looking forward to next year!

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