A greener tomorrow at the MBC

Featured Image: Gabriella Olivieri | Courtesy

The Marlin Business Conference, scheduled for April 17-21, will be taking an environmental approach to business. The conference is happening during Earth Week, and it will be in collaboration with the Generations Uniting to Address Climate Change Symposium to bring an eco-friendly outlook to businesses.

Each semester, those enrolled in MBE 301 Principles of Management run this conference to allow students to learn more about the business world and participate in educational events such as the shark tank competition. 

Professor Frank Futyma, a lecturer in Management, Business and Economics and the faculty advisor of the conference, said the idea of the conference is that “we have a student CEO and then we have the Chiefs of Staff who are working on this.” 

The students organize the entire conference, from managing budgets to planning guest speakers. They set up multiple fundraisers to help fund everything and then budget out the whole process. 

This semester’s CEO is senior and International Studies major Abigail Mahoney, who has stepped up with it being her first time working with the conference. 

She is joined by other team members to oversee their specific sections. Junior Kennedy Soliday is one of the Chiefs of Staff. 

Soliday said, “It gives the students an opportunity to have real-world experience. We get to do things that a lot of other colleges don’t get to.” 

Soliday’s main job is being the accountant for the conference. She helps with the budget, and this goes hand-in-hand with her degree. 

Mahoney has been working with Jessica Wilson, vice president of Marlins Go Green and Dr. Elizabeth Malcolm, professor of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences and director of Sustainability, to incorporate a focus on the environment. 

Malcolm said in terms of the inclusion of the environmental studies students, “I’m hoping that the business conference bringing in some of these people who are working on solutions will be inspiring to the students to think about ways in their career they can help make a positive difference.” 

Students will learn about sustainability, eco-friendly business and organizations that are trying to improve the environment, making the conference not only a learning experience for business students but also those interested in the environment. 

“It’ll get students like science majors to see the business side of it, because they’re focused on the science side of it. As business majors, we’re focused on the business side of it. So it’ll give both majors a different view of what they’re doing and what they can incorporate in the future,” Mahoney said.

They hope to influence many students during this conference to be open to new ideas about creating sustainable products and environmentally-conscious businesses. 

“There is a way to perform business effectively and make a profit and also keep in mind that the environment is so important for our future,” Mahoney said.

The guest speakers come from a wide range of backgrounds that reflect these ideas. This list includes representatives from All Good Cafe, The Port of Virginia and the Elizabeth River Project. 

All Good Cafe makes a variety of foods but specializes in granola bars with oats recycled from beer grains. The owner, Bryan Daniels, will speak at the conference.

Malcolm explained how to make a product sustainable and environmentally friendly. “You’re looking at the whole lifespan of the product. From its manufacturer, all the way to its disposal and saying, ‘what are all the environmental impacts of the product along the way,’ so it might be looking at the Natural Resources it’s made of and how are those extracted or harvested to its use and then all the way to its disposal,” Malcolm said.

The Port of Virginia is an importing and exporting company focused on making itself more sustainable. They are working on reducing their carbon emissions and transferring to renewable energy. The keynote speaker for the conference will be from the Port of Virginia. 

The Elizabeth River Project speaker is Gabriella Olivieri, who is a 2021 Virginia Wesleyan graduate. She currently holds the position of Community Engagement & Environmental Justice Manager. 

Her job is to make sure that the Elizabeth River Project considers equity, inclusivity and environmental justice at every step of their work. 

“My main focus is to expand the way we integrate equity into our projects and practices across programs, initiatives, and policies, ensuring that all are treated fairly and inclusively in our work,” Olivieri said.

The Elizabeth River Project helps integrate local businesses into havens of environmental restoration through the River Star Business program. This allows businesses to come to the Elizabeth River Project and get help on making themselves more environmentally friendly. 

The Port of Virginia is a River Star Business, an accomplishment that Virginia Wesleyan has recently reached as well. 

Olivieri’s speech will focus on encouraging how people can collectively make an impact on the environment and how businesses can make more eco-friendly choices. 

When Olivieri was a student here, she participated in the Marlin Business Conference. 

“Concepts learned in class can be somewhat amorphous until it’s applied to real-world opportunities. The business conference facilitates bridging that gap,” Olivieri said of her experience with the conference. 

For more information on the Business Conference, follow them on Instagram @marlin_business_conference_23.

By MK Morris Larkin