The future is green, Plant City CEO and Bryant Trustee Kim Anderson told the audience at a recent Honors Program Speakers Series event. The founder of the world's first plant-based food hall and marketplace, Anderson discussed her efforts to build a community of sustainability-minded organizations. She made the case for why sustainability is good for both business and for the planet, and what students can do to find their own path to success and fulfillment as entrepreneurs and contributors to the greater good for the planet.
In a time of growing ecological and social concerns, finding solutions to global challenges will be difficult, Anderson told the audience, but there is also tremendous potential for individuals and organizations to make a lasting difference. “We don't have a lot of time to get this right. There's going to be such opportunity for you guys in the next few years,” she said.
Infinite possibilities—and ways to help others
The Honors Program Speaker Series, organized by the Bryant University Honors Program, is an opportunity for students to learn from a diverse range of speakers on important topics such as leadership, innovation, and complex problem solving. This year’s speakers have included John Duke Logan ’16, Creative Content Coordinator for Converge Technology Solutions Corp and Founder of the "Impossible is Just a Word" Leadership Program, and Idrees "Lanre" Ajakaye, President and CEO of the 25 Bough Street community development project.
“We have so many students in the honors program who are studying so many different things and our goal is to help them find ways to take combine their talents with their individual passions,” says Laura Beaudin, Ph.D., professor of Economics and director of the Honors Program. “What we're trying to show them is that, at Bryant, you can go anywhere.”
A lifelong entrepreneur who started her own business at 24, Anderson used the forum to discuss her evolution as a social entrepreneur, advances in plant-based food, her management style, and her deep commitment to responsible business practices. She also offered advice to the students, who will soon be starting their own careers, and made it known she was eager to be a resource to help them succeed.
The future of business—and of the world—Anderson suggested, will rely on those who can mix sound business and organization with solutions to global problems. Noting an increased focus on sustainability as well as innovations across a wide range of industries, she told the students there would be “incredible” opportunities in areas that would not only make money but would make the planet a better place. “People want to do the right thing. If you can give them an easy way to do that, it can lead to success,” Anderson advised.
However, she noted, making an impact requires the ability to take a good idea and turn it into something real. “Even when you're in love with an idea, you can't be so in love with it that you don't pay attention to the numbers and the reality and the facts,” said Anderson, who walked the audience through the business side of her work and shared the lessons she’d learned.
Making connections and finding a path
Anderson encouraged the audience to explore as much as they could, during their time in college and beyond, to find their own passions. “Just keep moving and you'll find it,” she assured them. “Always be open and always be thinking.”
Her message resonated with the students in attendance. “This was a fantastic opportunity to hear from someone who is able to balance business with the social issues in her work,” says Team and Project Management major Rich Burleigh '24. “We get a great business education here at Bryant so it’s really valuable to hear from someone who is able to use their business skills to contribute to something greater than themselves and receive advice from them”
“The speaker series is a great way to meet some incredible people and make incredible connections,” Burleigh reflects.