6/10/2010 - In her keynote speech at the close of the Kellogg Innovation Network’s global summit in May, Dr. V. Mohini Giri had planned to take business leaders to task for being unaware and unengaged with issues such as women’s rights or bringing high-quality nutrition to people living on a few dollars a day.
But after nearly three days of in-depth conversations with global executives, Giri, a social change icon in India, ultimately took the opposite stance.
“This conference has changed my mind about business,” Giri declared to the audience. “I was planning to give a highly critical keynote, but now I see there are business leaders who ‘get it.’ There are people sincerely seeking to make a difference through commerce.”
It’s stories like this that hint at the uniqueness of KIN Global, now in its second year. Delegates to the international summit engage not only with speakers and panelists, but collaborate with each other to explore actions to build sustainable prosperity. The roughly 160 delegates at the May 17-19 gathering at the James L. Allen Center represented more than 20 countries and all sectors, including business, government, academia, nonprofit and the arts.
Giri joined business leaders on a panel that addressed the challenges of providing nutrition to the world. Fellow panelist Steve Wilson ’74, CEO of fertilizer giant CF Industries, expressed that this kind of dialogue between business and nonprofits is essential.
“Too many people outside business don’t understand the role businesses play in achieving meaningful, economically viable change,” Wilson said. “Kellogg can help change that.”
Delegates included Academy-Award winning actress and children’s advocate Goldie Hawn and Nisha Money, a global health and integrative medicine specialist with the U.S. Department of Defense who explored the potential of the human brain to achieve peak performance. Delegates also heard from former U.S. Sen. and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne about America’s next steps in the 21st century.
“The most pressing challenges facing humanity won’t be solved by business or government alone,” KIN Executive Director Robert C. Wolcott said in his welcome speech. “We require open dialogue, new partnerships and innovative action. Kellogg can provide the platform and the global Kellogg community can play a central role.”
True to its spirit of innovation, the summit went beyond the walls of the conference room into the realm of music at “Etudes for Innovation” at Northwestern’s Pick-Staiger Concert Hall. The event, developed by KIN Creative Director Jeffrey Ernstoff, featured renowned flutist Robert Dick, the Northwestern Bienen School University Chorale and famed vocal innovators The Manhattan Transfer.
During the concert, six teens from the nonprofit organization Dreams for Kids described to the audience the challenges they have faced, from abusive homes to physical disabilities. They talked about overcoming the past and re-framing themselves as leaders by recognizing their ability to contribute to the world. Through Dreams for Kids, the teens create and implement programs that enable young people worldwide to surmount their own challenges and build a more prosperous society. Etudes sponsor Niko Drakoulis, CEO of Akoo.com, announced a gift worth nearly $5 million in advertising exposure for Dreams for Kids as part of the nonprofit’s global expansion.
“Standing in front of you is the tapestry of the world,” said Tom Tuohy, CEO of Dreams for Kids. “They are not their past; they are who they choose to be. They are the change we all seek. They are not tomorrow’s world, they are leaders today
This year, Wolcott invited leaders from all sectors of Turkish society to address issues facing their country, from education and entrepreneurship to Turkey’s relationship with neighboring countries and the European Union. Northwestern Graduate School Dean Andrew Wachtel co-hosted the panel with Melih Keyman, CEO of Keytrade and a benefactor of Northwestern’s Turkish Studies program. Other panelists included Turkey’s former Foreign Minister Emre Gonensay and Koç University President Umran Inan.
Their discussions will lead to action on many fronts around the issue of global prosperity. Last year’s KIN Global delegates have pursued a number of initiatives that arose directly from the 2009 summit. A team of KINians (as delegates are known) from the U.S. and Europe, led by the Nordic Innovation Centre’s Jørn Bang Andersen of Denmark, contributed substantially to the Icelandic government’s innovation-focused strategy for growth following the financial crisis. Youth Action International founder Kimmie Weeks returned this year to share how his organization had used nearly $50,000 raised during KIN Global 2009 to build women’s business centers in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Kellogg alumni Ken Jones EMP-74 and David Schonthal EMP-74 founded the Kellogg Venture Community (KVC) with help from the Kellogg Innovation Network. KVC now boasts hundreds of Kellogg alumni dedicated to building an entrepreneurial ecosystem for the global Kellogg community.
In breakout sessions, KIN delegates worked with KIN Global Scholars, Kellogg students selected to pursue research on some of the world’s most pressing challenges, ranging from global nutrition issues to advancing the role of women in development. A concept designed by scholars to enhance entrepreneurship education is now being considered for implementation in Turkey, Wolcott said.
A KIN Global student leadership team, consisting of Sharon Bakcht, Sarah Berghorst, Liz Kenny, Marko Ivanov, Shaina Morphew and Maki Tanaka, all ’10, took a leading role in helping to plan and run the overall event.
“If you’re part of the Kellogg community, you’ve attained a level of success,” Wolcott explained. “KIN Global explores how we can — all together — go from success to significance.”
For more information about KIN Global, visit http://www.kinglobal.org