Core Program

MBArk on a Journey

The natural products industry — once just a hippie offshoot of Big Food — has grown into a nearly $300 billion colossus, and one of the bellwethers of the recent shift toward more enlightened business attitudes.  It is today a bubbling cauldron of entrepreneurship, sustainability, and triple-bottom-line orientation.

IMG_6291(mr)Twice each year, industry leaders gather for trade shows run by New Hope Network: Natural Products Expo West (each March in Anaheim) and Natural Products Expo East (each September in Philadelphia). Recent Expo West events have attracted as many as 3,500 exhibiting companies and 80,000 attendees.

The MBArk Core Program gives a select group of MBA/grad students from around the country the opportunity to attend these trade shows at minimal cost; to meet with CEOs, industry leaders, and MBA alumni already blazing trails in the industry; and to network with dozens of the top natural foods companies in an effort to explore prospective career opportunities.  It is a truly unique opportunity for MBA students seeking summer internships or permanent positions to delve inside one of the fastest growing, most successful and most progressive industries on the planet — all during one week, and under one roof.

Our next program will take place in March 2024 at Expo West in Anaheim.



In recent years, MBA students from American (Kogod), Arizona State (W.P. Carey), Babson (Olin), Berkeley (Haas), Carnegie Mellon (Tepper), Chicago (Booth), Clark (GSM), Colorado (Leeds), Colorado State (GSSE), Columbia (GSB), Cornell (Johnson), Dartmouth (Tuck), Duke (Fuqua), Emory (Goizueta), Florida (Hough), Georgetown (McDonough), Harvard (HBS), Indiana (Kelley), Johns Hopkins (Carey), Michigan (Ross/Erb Institute), Missouri-Kansas City (Bloch), MIT (Sloan), North Carolina State (Jenkins), Northwestern (Kellogg), NYU (Stern), Oregon (Lundquist), Penn (Wharton), Penn State (Smeal), Pittsburgh (Katz), Presidio, South Florida-St. Petersburg, Stanford (GSB), Texas (McCombs), Texas A&M (Mays), Tufts (Friedman), UC Davis (GSM), UC Irvine (Merage), UCSD (Rady), UMass-Amherst (Sustainability Science), USC (Marshall), Vanderbilt (Owen), Virginia (Darden), Washington (Foster), Wisconsin, and Yale (SOM) have taken part.  They have found jobs working with companies as diverse as Annie’s, Bolthouse Farms, Dr. Bronner’s, Good Tastes, General Mills, OCHO, Revolution Foods, Stonyfield, Organic Valley, WhiteWave and Zevia; several have launched their own natural products companies.

Among the CEOs and industry leaders who have met with MBArk participants are:

Nikhil Arora and Alejo Velez Ramirez, Co-Founders of Back To The Roots
Sarah Bird, CEO of Quinn Snacks and former CEO of Bhakti Chai
Jennifer Berliner, CEO of Moonshot Snacks and former President of Medlie
Tatiana Birgisson, Founder and former CEO of MATI Energy
Linda Boardman, CEO of Bragg
Sarah Cline, VP of Sales of PlantPlus Foods and former VP of Sales of Sol Cuisine
Carol Cone, CEO of Carol Cone On Purpose
John Foraker, CEO of Once Upon a Farm and former CEO and President of Annies
Betsy Foster, President of Love Life! and former Global VP, Growth & Business Development of Whole Foods Market
Tyler Gage, Co-Founder of Runa and Managing Director of Terrafertil
Natalie Gershon, former VP Marketing of Zevia
Seth Goldman, Co-Founder and Chief Change Agent of Eat the Change, Tea-EO Emeritus of Honest Tea and Chairman of Beyond Meat
John Haugen, Founder and Managing Partner of SEMCAP Foods and former General Manager of General Mills’ 301 Emerging Brand Elevator
Gary Hirshberg, Co-Founder and Chief Organic Optimist of Stonyfield Farm
Heather Howitt, President of Thaiwala and Founder of Oregon Chai and Meriwether Group
David Ingalls, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Zing Bars
Trish Karter, Founder of Dancing Deer Bakery and former CEO of Chabaso
Blair Kellison, former CEO of Traditional Medicinals
Molly Keveney, VP of Consumer Engagement of Champion Petfoods and former VP of Corporate Communications and Digital at Clif Bar
Hillary Lewis, Founder and former CEO of Lumi Juice
Lucas Mann and Gareth Asten, Partners of Acre Venture Partners
Jane Miller, CEO of Rudi’s and former CEO of Lily’s
Guy Ozery, President of Ozery Bakery
Russell Parker, President of Edward & Sons and former SVP of KeHE/Nature’s Best
Sheryl O’Loughlin, former CEO of REBBL
Ricardo Peridgao, COO/CFO of Sambazon
Kirsten Quigley, Founder and CEO of LunchSkins
Doug Radi, CEO of Sweet Loren’s and former CEO of Rudi’s and Good Karma
Mark Retzloff, Founder and Former CEO of Horizon Organic and Alfalfa’s
Denis Ring, CEO of BODE International and Executive Chairman of OCHO Candy
Walter Robb, former Co-CEO of Whole Foods Market
Peter Roy, former President of Whole Foods Market
Matthew Sade, former CEO of Kite Hill
Miyoko Schinner, Founder and CEO of Miyoko’s
Rory Schmick, former Sustainability Director of Pacific Foods
Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis, Co-Founders of Magic Spoon and Exo Protein
Megan Shea, Co-Founder of The Soulfull Project
Jordan Silbert, CEO of Q Drinks
Jared Simon, VP of Marketing at Hain Celestial
Paddy Spence, former CEO of Zevia and founder of SPINS
Greg Steltenpohl, late Founder and Former CEO of Odwalla, Founder and CEO of Califia Farms
Terry Tierney, former CEO of Daiya Foods
Kevin Tisdale, VP of Marketing at Pacific Foods
Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Revolution Foods
Luke Vernon, Managing Partner of Ridgeline Ventures
Danielle Vogel, Founder of Glen’s Garden Market
Naomi Whittel, former CEO of TwinLab