This artcile was written by Arijana Håpnes and Liliia Motiiets. (All pictures taken by Arijana Håpnes)
Arijana Håpnes/23 years old/MSc. Strategic Marketing Management
I volunteered for the Summit because I really like the cause that they promote, sustainable and ethical business growth. In addition, it was a great opportunity to network with like-minded ambitious people here in Oslo. Another reason why I wanted to volunteer is that the experience would provide me with more hands-on opportunity to work with social media channels, photography and writing. These disciplines are extremely relevant to my degree. The Business for Peace Foundation is also an organization that stands close to my heart, because I have vast experience from charity work both with UNICEF during the Haiti Earthquake and Burmese Refugee Assistance program in Thailand. Growing up as a third culture kid with both of my parents working for NGOs, I know firsthand what it means to be offered a helping hand.
The experience I gained is important for students who attended a business school, because the foundation offers individuals knowledge about being ethical and sustainable, while generating profit. As Paul Polman said: Businesses who are not sustainable will not succeed in a long term-perspective. Thus, it is important for students at BI to be updated with what it takes to be a successful businessperson in the long run.
Especially for marketers, it is important to market a firm, which shows that it is engaged and committed to long-term sustainable goals for the society. Firms with large profit such as Unilever, produce many durables using natural resources, but also provide millions of people in the world with jobs. By volunteering, you gain a lot of insight into what it takes to be an international leader in a world that is desperately in the need for sustainable efforts.
The importance of the event was clearly marked by His Royal Highness (H.R.H) Haakon, Crown Prince of Norway, opening the ceremony speech, followed by Erna Solberg Prime Minister of Norway discussing sustainable growth on a round table discussion. All, in all students at BI would benefit a lot from networking with sustainable leaders, gain hands on experience with event management as we worked together with SIGLA and GRAND LAB, social media management and being customer centric.
My main takeaway is that the business world is changing. The way we do business needs to be re-thought, and in order to be long-term successful, each department in an organization has to think and act in a sustainable way. As Paul Polman said, we need to walk the talk. I have learned that it is possible for one person to change how business is done. We had many great examples of individuals, such as our Honoree Sarah Beydoun, who owns a handbag firm. Working together with female ex-prisoners, she is successful at making a difference by creating thousands of jobs for underprivileged women in the world.
Liliia Motiiets/24 years old/MSc Leadership and organizational Psychology
I decided to join the volunteers’ team, because the ideas and goals behind this event correspond with my personal values. Having a deep interest in human rights and especially gender equality, it was impossible for me to miss this event. In addition, the Business for Peace Summit is an excellent place to extend your professional network. I met amazing talented and highly professional people, and I really appreciated the opportunity to work together with them.
Except the personal benefits, I also consider it a nice opportunity for me, a student at BI Norwegian Business School, to learn first-hand that it is not something extraordinary to do business in an ethical way. This event introduced me to the up-to-date situation in the business world. It was a nice thing to realize that sustainability is more than just a fancy word nowadays.
During the Summit, participants have the chance to meet and actually learn from the leaders of the sustainable companies; get to know their mindsets and goals.
I personally recommend others to use the opportunity to become a part of the Summit. For me, it was two days of non-stop inspiration and motivation. During the Summit, I was a host for one of the previous year honoree, and the discussion we had are one of the best moments from my volunteer experience.