We live in a time where we have the tools necessary to make a difference and impact the many systems surrounding us but sometimes we fall short of tackling the big challenges. Through discussions, conversations and exploration, the Emerge conference facilitates the sharing of knowledge and inspiration between members who are already part of the social impact drive in their own communities and participants who want to get involved. At the same time, remembering that we have a responsibility towards the environments that get affected.

“What would you do if you couldn’t fail”

 Andy Middleton set the tone and started off the opening plenary highlighting the need to

create networks of people in diverse places and be more focused on the real challenges affecting us. His work at Project Slipstream focused on preparing future generations to be more aware of their environment and food consumption, while teaching them the tools to be able to take on big goals to change the world.

During the panel on “Finding pathways through the sustainable growth paradox” the main discussion was about designing waste out of the production cycle and utilizing the finite resources that are available to us today. Due to the shift in mind set and awareness levels over the last decade manufacturers are now having these conversations and being held accountable for their unsustainable practices. Claire Mueller from Ananas Anam emphasized the fact that growth isn’t just about the financial sides, it’s about having a positive social impact and being able to sustain your business as you grow. While Joe Murphy from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation reminded us that it wasn’t a zero-sum equation, businesses can have a social impact while creating profit.

How to create the political system we want now panel

“Figure out why you want to do it” Aaron Bartnick

 Politics is also one of the most influential systems affecting our lives right now. During the “How to shape the political system we want now” session, Alex Starritt of Apolitical shared his advice on driving change in the political system by getting in touch with others who are working on the same things and asking them for help. Aaron Bartnick, a current Saïd Business School student and Skoll Scholar, gave actionable tips on how to be at the forefront of political change by running for elections yourself.

“Learn to listen to what the future is saying, and hear the stories that are merging”

21st Century Medici Affect Panel

“Learn to listen to what the future is saying, and hear the stories that are merging” Prof Shelley Sacks, Oxford Brookes University (Photo by Fisher Studios)

Throughout every session there was a call for collaborative work. This was especially the case in the “21st century Medici: creative spaces and creative collisions” session that dived into the benefits of collaborative work to create a cross pollination of ideas. The session brought together an economist, an artist, a philosopher and a scientist to talk about the work they’re creating and how they’re overcoming the barriers and politics that can challenge meaningful collaborations.

Keynote: James Rutter and Rosie Brown of COOK

Photo by Fisher Studios

Rosie Brown of COOK

Photos by Fisher Studios

The conversation continued with Rosie Brown and James Rutter from COOK sharing how they changed the system of their company through fostering an environment of relationships. They have been able to grow “The Cook Kitchen” using warm relationships as a business strategy and exploring their purpose.

Mental Health Panel: Chris Underhill, Tatiana Taylor Salisbury, Geoff McDonald

“I just want everybody in every workplace to feel they genuinely have the choice to put their hand up and ask for help” Geoff McDonald (Photo by Fisher Studios)

“I just want everybody in every workplace to feel they genuinely have the choice to put their hand up and ask for help” Geoff Mcdonald

Throughout our social impact journey, we need to be mindful of our own mental health and remember to take care of ourselves. A ground breaking session on mental health put into focus the importance of self care and mainstreaming mental health in our societies. Geoff Mcdonald passionately emphasised the need to de-stigmatize mental health.

Closing Plenary: Peter Drobac

Peter Drobac, director of the Skoll Centre (Photo by Fisher Studios)

The last remarks by Peter Drobac, director of the Skoll Centre, brought the whole two days into perspective with a call to action about the power of equity in creating equality of opportunity. He advised social entrepreneurs to understand the problem they’re trying to solve first before taking action. Peter stressed that the best leaders are led by the community they are serving and urged everyone to practice extreme humility in their journeys.

“Rather than saying No, ask How” ~ Peter Drobac Director, Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship


Khadeja Ramali - Comms Champion for Emerge 2017Khadeja is currently an MA student at Soas University of London. She co-founded Project Silphium, which was launched to create a digital space for Libyan women to share their stories and have their voices heard. She is also a Geophysics Graduate from Imperial College London and worked as a Geophysicist in Libya for 5 years.