by Nishant Makhijani
TalentFX is returning to Greenbuild 2015 taking place in Washington, DC. This cutting edge program features a direct line to master speakers in an intimate setting, offers amazing opportunities to connect with your peers and leaders in the greenbuilding industry, and access to invaluable career advice! We could brag about how awesome TalentFX 2015 is going to be all day long, but why take our word for it? Below, Nishant Makhijani, a past TalentFX and Greenbuild attendee, shares his story on how his experience changed his life for the better.
It was October 2012, and I still remember the hectic traveling I had to go through to make it to the Moscone Center in San Francisco for my first ever Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.
The USGBC Students group at University of Illinois Urbana Champaign (UIUC) had successfully executed the Green Fun Fair at the Jefferson Middle School in Champaign, IL as part of the Green Apple Bus Tour. I had missed the opportunity to participate in the bus tour to take a midterm but luckily I was able make it to San Francisco in time to meet my fellow Greenbuild Scholarship winners.
When I arrived, I was surrounded by a group of young, motivated students, emerging professionals and industry leaders who wanted to make an impact in the world through the Green Schools movement. As a scholarship winner, I had the chance to experience Greenbuild through a different lens. In addition to the amazing Greenbuild programming, scholarship winners attended special sessions with keynote speakers and LEED Fellows that helped us all get a better understanding of what it means to be a member of the USGBC family. It gave us the opportunity to meet and interact with change makers who were transforming their communities through sustainable practices and fighting the fight to create positive social change.
I often think of how LEED Fellow Holley Henderson’s session on networking and job search transformed my take on meeting new people and utilizing relationships for good. I made a great connection with Holley after her session and there has been no looking back. She quickly became a mentor for me and has advised mentored me with my career search and is one of my closest allies in the USGBC family. Master Speaker Kevin Caroll, an author and agent for social change also met with us before his talk. Kevin inspires businesses, organizations and individuals to embrace their spirit of play and creativity to maximize human potential and sustain more meaningful business and personal growth. Kevin, like most master series speakers, wasn’t affiliated with the green building industry but his story encouraged us all to do our part to create change in the world.
The four day conference was a celebration of what USGBC had achieved since its inception and a reminder that “We Are Right” to demand to live our lives in sustainable and healthy communities. I left San Francisco energized, inspired and excited to make a difference in my community and reconnect with the passionate people I met during the conference.
After being inspired in San Francisco, I attended the inaugural year of TalentFX at the 2013 Greenbuild in Philadelphia where I presented a session with David Gottfried, Co-Founder of USGBC and Stephen Ritz, CEO of Green Bronx Machine. I was representing the USGBC students movement in a discussion about the meaning of being a member of the USGBC Community. Yet again, I connected with another change maker, Stephen, throughout the planning process of the session. I was so inspired by his work in the Bronx that I decided to raise funds for his non-profit through an indiegogo campaign.
As I transitioned out of my USGBC Students experience, I got involved with the Emerging Professionals (EP) community. I met young professionals from around the nation during my subsequent Greenbuild and Convergence (formerly known as Midyear Meeting) experiences. These EPs were impacting their communities through their leadership and they became my home away from home. Earlier this year, I decided to take up a leadership role, as a Regional ADVANCE Ambassador to lead on social and environmental justice for Central Illinois.
Looking back, going to Greenbuild every year was one of the best decisions I made in my college career. Today, I work as the Sustainability Engagement Specialist at the University of Illinois, and I am still connected to the inspiring individuals from around the nation. Even though I am not a typical green building professional, I am able to create a big impact in my community using the resources and relationships I have cultivated throughout my Greenbuild and TalentFX experiences.