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Conference Reflection's from UW Students

Reflection Post 1: Jenna Marie Sharkus

I enjoyed my experience at the 2023 Wisconsin Sustainability Business Council Conference! I am a senior at UW-Madison studying Marketing and Sustainability. Outside of school, I work as a Sustainability Co-op for Kohler Co. and am an active member of my school's Environmentally Responsible Business Network (ERBN). This was my second year attending the WSBC Conference! . It is great to have a community of people from all different industries centered around sustainability and acting towards a better future. As I attend more sustainability events in the area, I see more and more familiar and friendly faces, which makes me so happy


The sessions I attended were Getting Started with GHG Tracking, Workforce Engagement Solutions, and Green House Gas: Long-term Strategies. I found each session to be insightful in its own way, and I think the sessions are a great way for attendees to hear real-world stories and advice on their subject matter of interest. I appreciate the variety of sessions that WSBC offers to allow each attendee to create their personalized agenda for the day.


At the summit, we heard from Angela Russell, the Chief Diversity Officer of TruStage, the host sponsor of the event. She was very knowledgeable and kept the audience fully engaged with her presence and with what she had to say. One of my favorite quotes from her talk is that "For people to feel included, you must understand their needs." This tied well into her message that equality does not mean equity, and equity looks different for everyone, so you must understand them for them to feel included. She left us with a great quote that I would like to restate because I believe it should be heard by everyone, as it is a great reminder to remember to acknowledge, participate, and learn with your community towards a more equitable future for people and the planet.


"There is no power greater than a community discovering what it cares about." Margaret Wheatley


For those looking for my quick takeaways from the WSBC Conference, here they are!

-        Keep moving.

-        Be on the journey.

-        Focus on curiosity over certainty.

-        Ask the tough questions.

-        Don't be afraid to fail, learn, and try again.

-        Self-awareness is key.

-        Ask questions to understand.

-        Consultants and other external help are a great way to solve problems. More brains = more ideas.

Reflection Post 2: Annabella Kennedy

My name is Annabella Kennedy; I am a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin-Madison studying Consumer Behavior and Marketplace Studies and Environmental Science. I am a member of UW-Madison’s Ethical and Responsible Business Organization (ERBN) which allowed me the wonderful opportunity to attend the Wisconsin Sustainable

Business Council Conference on November 16th, 2023.

I feel I learned so much from the WSBC Conference, and I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to experience this event. My day began with hearing from Peter Settel, Chief Strategy and Technology Officer at American Family, speak about finding a good balance of prioritizing Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) in companies.

Following that the Breakout sessions allowed me to choose what I wanted to learn more about throughout the day. My favorite session I attended was the workshop titled “Building the Future of Sustainable Workforces Now.” This session exposed me to possible careers in the sustainability sector and showed me how sustainability can be incorporated into other careers as well. As a college student with a major in Environmental Science, it was great to hear from people with careers involving sustainability.

Angela Russel, Chief Diversity Officer at TruStage, offered me great new insight on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. It was great to hear about TruStage’s initiatives in this area.

I also chose to do a tour of the LEED Gold TruStage building, which allowed me to learn about the design and mechanics behind it was extremely interesting. The detail and care put into a variety of aspects in the building was astounding. One of my favorite aspects are the green walls on every level, along with the live plants placed throughout the building. The day ended with

keynote speaker Jeff Thompson, Executive Advisor and CEO of Emeritus Gundersen Health System, who spoke about the connection between human health and climate, along with servant leadership.

Overall, this conference gave me hope for the future, and showed me how many people truly care about our environment. I enjoyed learning about possible future careers in sustainability while connecting with various professionals. I am thankful to have been able to attend this conference this year, and hope to attend again in future years.

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