SSBC Event Update and Cancellation
- Ryan Kelly & Rigers Qarri - Directors
In light of recent events and guidance from Penn State University Authorities, Conference Directors Ryan Kelly and Rigers Qarri regret to announce the 2020 Student Sustainable Business Conference is cancelled.
Early on, our team identified the risk and impact the global spread of COVID-19 posed to our event. In the past few weeks, we have been working diligently to mitigate this risk while still fostering engagement between our corporate and student stakeholders. This included rethinking key staples of the conference like our dignitary dinner, networking expo, as well as developing new teleconference options for our Break-Out session hosts. However, on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020 Penn State University announced a suspension of in-person classes and events due to concern of COVID-19’s spread throughout the community. This restriction begins on March 16th with a planned resumption of classes starting April 6th.
After careful consideration, we have determined it unfeasible to host a safe, exciting and engaging event only two days after the end to an unforeseen suspension of campus activities. There is great organizational uncertainty surrounding the suspension termination date, the availability of key suppliers as well as engagement opportunities with our student audience. We pride ourselves in hosting a fun, professional and meaningful conference. Sadly, we cannot make it happen this year. It is in the best interest for the conference and our stakeholders to cancel the event, despite all our efforts in planning. In the coming days, our team will be in contact to discuss next-steps for our Corporate Sponsors and other key stakeholders. We thank everyone who has supported the conference throughout its journey, and hope the following personal statement from the directors will provide insight into the vision and outlook on the future of the Student Sustainable Business Conference.
When Rigers and I set out to plan a conference this year, we were originally planning the Smeal Citizenship Conference (SCC) – the legacy event that has since become the SSBC. When the Citizenship Conference was designed 6 years ago, it was made to be a closed event solely engaging First-Year business students. The intent of the founders was that the conference would build its foundation in the business school community and eventually be open to all Penn State years and degrees. It was decided that this academic year of 2019 to 2020 was to be that transition. The opening of Smeal’s Center for the Business of Sustainability was an ideal way for leaders within the Smeal student body to demonstrate their generation's commitment and interest in enterprises that seek to meet a Triple Bottom Line: People, Profit and Planet. Under Center Director Erik Foley’s umbrella, we felt that a new name was needed; one that better reflected our mission and goals. We chose the Student Sustainable Business Conference as it better communicated who we were and what we wanted to achieve.
This year brought many changes other than a new name. For the first time, the conference has had two student Directors: Rigers Qarri and Ryan Kelly. In the past, many aspects of the conference were shouldered by faculty sponsors – most namely Professor Ron Johnson. Now, all responsibilities involved with the conference have fallen upon the students of Penn State Net Impact’s organizing committee. The 2020 Inaugural Student Sustainable Business Conference was to be the most student-run conference in our event’s history. With such passion and dedication poured into this project, it saddens us to cancel our event, despite knowing it is the right course of action.
We want to thank all of our Company Sponsors for engaging with us and our Penn State Faculty Advisors and Partners for supporting us every step of the way. But lastly, we would like to thank each and every one of our team members for all of the work and dedication put towards our mission. Reinventing this conference was no easy task. We are forever grateful for our dedicated team members who met our deadlines and went above and beyond to have critical items done before we even asked. Ironically, if it were not for the efforts done in preparation for this year, this unfortunate need to cancel would not have been as devastating. Although we are saddened that our efforts will not come to fruition in 2020, we are confident that all the time spent, talents developed and lessons learned this year have created a substantial foundation on which next year’s conference can be built. We are looking forward to seeing what future conference teams are able to achieve and hope that what we achieved planning a conference-that-never-was helps them throughout their journey.
Ryan Kelly - Director
Rigers Qarri - Director