MBArk on a Journey

The natural products industry — once just a hippie offshoot of Big Food — has grown into a $200 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 Natural Media:  Natural Products Expo West (each March in Anaheim) and Natural Products Expo East (each September in Baltimore).  At the most recent Expo West, in March 2016, there were more than 3,000 exhibiting companies and 77,000 attendees.

The MBArk program gives a select group of MBA students from around the country the opportunity to attend these trade shows at very lost cost (courtesy of New Hope Network, the show organizers); 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 weekend, and under one roof.

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In recent years, MBA students from Arizona State (W.P. Carey), Babson (Olin), Berkeley (Haas), Chicago (Booth), Colorado (Leeds), Colorado State (GSSE), Harvard (HBS), MIT (Sloan), North Carolina State (Jenkins), Northwestern (Kellogg), Presidio, Stanford (GSM), Texas (McCombs), UC Davis (GSM), UC Irvine (Merage), USC (Marshall), and Yale (SOM) have taken part.  They have found jobs working with companies as diverse as Annie’s, Dr. Bronner’s, Good Tastes, and General Mills; 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
Linda Boardman, President of Branch Brook Holdings (Julie’s Organic Ice Cream, etc.)
Carol Cone, CEO of Carol Cone On Purpose
Tyler Gage, CEO of Runa
Natalie Gershon, VP Marketing of Zevia
Seth Goldman, Tea-EO of Honest Tea
Heather Howitt, Founder of Oregon Chai and Meriwether Group
David Ingalls, CEO of Zing Bars
Trish Karter, Founder of Dancing Deer Bakery
Blair Kellison, CEO of Traditional Medicinals
Guy Ozery, President of Ozery Bakery
Russell Parker, former SVP of KeHe/Nature’s Best
Doug Radi, CEO of Good Karma
Denis Ring, CEO of BODE International and OCHO Candy
Peter Roy, former President of Whole Foods Market
Rory Schmick and Kevin Tisdale, Sustainability Director and VP Marketing of Pacific Foods
Greg Sewitz and Gabi Lewis, Co-Founders of Exo Protein
Jordan Silbert, CEO of Q Drinks
Paddy Spence, CEO of Zevia
Terry Tierney, CEO of Daiya Foods
Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Revolution Foods

IMG_2608(Blair-Kellison-address-group)(mr)The next event takes place September 20-22, 2016 in Baltimore.  Expo West 2017 takes place March 9-12, 2017 in Anaheim.

NOTE: Participants in the program are responsible for their own transportation to and from the shows, and all meals and incidental costs. Discounted reserved lodging may be available through the program. Admission to Expo, normally $995 for each guest, is waived entirely.

The application deadline for the MBArk program at Expo East is August 12.  To apply, click here.