Rady MBA Participates in Clinton Global Initiative Conference

Richard Woodbridge

Richard Woodbridge (Full-Time ’09) was invited to and attended the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference February 13-15 at the University of Texas, Austin. This event focused on inspiring the young leaders of the world to make commitments to address the pressing global issues of climate change, energy, health, peace and human rights and poverty alleviation. Former President Bill Clinton was present to moderate many of the sessions and presented awards for outstanding commitments. Guests included celebrities such as Natalie Portman, Matthew McConaughey and Morgan Spurlock (producer of “Super Size Me”).

Nearly 1,000 students, from 50 states and 60 foreign countries, were accepted to attend, as well as the heads of leading educational institutions, including UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox. As a prerequisite, all applicants devise and commit to implement innovative solutions to global issues.

Below is an interview with Woodbridge, about his experience at the conference.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience at the conference?

It was an educational and motivational weekend with several opportunities to network and share ideas. For example, during one of the lunch sessions, the person sitting to my left was a young man from Iraq starting a foundation to help Iraqis who have been injured by landmines, while the woman to my right was helping create a community video blog to connect and educate the surrounding community on social issues. It was truly inspiring to be surrounded by so many people trying to make a difference.

Do you think business leaders are interested in issues of social and environmental change?

It is a common misconception that social and environmental entrepreneurship are synonymous with non-profit organizations. There is actually a tremendous opportunity to capitalize on the next generation of social and environmental products and services, using sound, for-profit business models. The general consensus at the conference was that the next Google (company that makes it big) will be a company that focuses on social ills. With the new economic stimulus package in place, there are even more government resources available to help entrepreneurs in these areas. The best part is these new endeavors will also provide much needed jobs at home and abroad.

As an MBA student, how was the content relevant for you?

During the conference, there were topic sessions about the effective use of technology in developing countries to help improve health and raise individuals out of poverty. Luckily, here at UC San Diego, we are in the forefront of environmental research and the advancement of technology. This gives Rady students the unique opportunity to help launch some of these potentially world-changing products. According to President Clinton, the key is to have focus. If you’re too broad, and say, “I want to alleviate hunger,” you’ll be bogged-down by the magnitude of the task. However, if you focus your efforts on a specific area or single technology, and partner with organizations with similar goals, you will have a better chance of accomplishing your mission.

What is your goal walking away from the conference?

I committed to create a single go-to site for entrepreneurs wanting to compete in social and environmental business plan and case competitions. Thousands of these competitions take place each year, and innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues, such as pollution and poverty, are submitted in these competitions by individuals who are passionate about making a difference. I believe creating a Web site to market these events will help spread the knowledge of new technologies and services around the world, and connect those individuals with the funding and resources necessary to turn their ideas into reality. My site, Competefortheworld.org, will go live in the start of next quarter.