Positive Change at the ChangeNOW Conference: Insights from emlyon

15 OCTOBER 2018

« Welcome Changmakers » is the slogan that resonates through the hall of Station F. Between Changemakers and Early Makers, the emlyon motto, there is evidently a connection.

When EM Lyon Business School asked me to attend the ChangeNow conference on the 28th and 29th of September in Paris, my response was an immediate “yes”!.I had the chance to see and experience even further how what I learnt during the Executive MBA programme comes to life in current disruptive industries.

Passionate about innovation, I put my reporter coat on and navigated between conferences and discussions. I not only discovered inspiring people but also extraordinary projects and felt like a fish in water!

These two days were truly inspiring and allowed me to engage in a number of zealous and dynamic conversations. Discussions about positive leadership, engagement and influence resonated in me after my year in the Executive MBA, during which I explored these themes and asked myself how I myself could be a change agent.

Let me take you back to my two days full of innovation and positive energy!

What is ChangeNow ?


« There is an urgent need to create a space where innovators, companies and citizen who wish to change the world can meet and collaborate » the words of Santiago Lefebvre, the co-founder of ChangeNow summarize the theme of the event – positive change!

For the second edition of the event, ChangeNow welcomed 500 projects, 200 speakers and more than 4 000 participants from 80 countries.

An inside glimpse

“The Secret of Change Is to Focus All of Your Energy, Not on Fighting the Old, But on Building the New” Socrate

Many things could be written about these two days. If I had to choose a few of words, it would be: diversity, creativity, business, commitment and collaboration.


Looking at the programme of the day as well as the speakers and participants, diversity was omnipresent in:
- the topics discussed: amongst others, we spoke about air and water pollution, food, renewable energy, responsible consumerism, public health system, education, speak, cities and even sustainable fashion.The range of themes is broad and addresses the 17 goals set by the United Nations for a sustainable world.

- the speakers: Many countries were represented, including a delegation of 20 mayors from Amsterdam who came to discuss best practices and mobility. I spoke with start-ups from The Netherlands and India and also organisations who inspire citizen engagement.

- the public: The first day was dedicated to professionals (start-ups, investors, companies and associations) who came from all around the world. As I looked around on Saturday morning when the general public could attend, I was very surprised that all different age groups were also present, representing different generations.

Business in general

The ChangeNow forum is based on positive change in relation to business. We spoke about the triple bottom line (people, profit and the planet) and the fact that companies are a part of an ecosystem and their leaders determine their environment.


Creation and innovation often go hand in hand. Many inventions that I had the chance to see left me speechless. The company Chakr transforms pollution into ink, Glowy supplies light thanks to micro-organisms that live in organic resin or Plastic Free who provided cups during the event made from sweet potatoes. From ideas to finished project, the entrepreneurs showcasing their ideas at ChangeNow are making waves.

Engagement and the desire to collaborate

Education and engagement were the big topics tackled on Saturday morning. Jeff King, CEO of Muse School underlined that “we don’t want to change the system but to create the system,” adding that the turnout of participants at the moment show a true willingness for collaboration.

Alexandre Mars, entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of the association Epic said that “20% of students in business school wish to work for a social economy in solidarity.”

I discovered many structures like Article 1 or l’Institut de l’Engagement (The Institute of Commitment), which help young people to orient themselves and to engage. The actors of the civil life are numerous to want to bring more meaning to the world that surrounds them. This shows that the event represents an important movement in today’s culture.

After a big Vivatech event in May 2018, ChangeNow shows that there exists a true hunger for innovation, felt by people who wish to change the world in a positive sense. This energy will without doubt continue to flow.

Innovate. Create. Dare. Believe. Do.

During these two days, ChangeNow offered an incredible stimulating platform. While enjoying a delicious dish prepared by MeetMyMama I overheard “This event is truly inspiring!” I cannot have said it better myself.

I look forward to the 2019 edition of the programme to continue the adventure and for more fantastic exchanges!


I would like to thank Anna Pauwels, Marketing Manager MBA at EM Lyon for giving the opportunity to attend this event. It was an extraordinary experience!


Alexandra Dimian
Executive MBA 2017-2018, Fast track, Paris Campus
Find out more about my background: www.linkedin.com/in/alexandra-dimian-bb9508/

For more information on:
- The ChangeNow summit: https://twitter.com/changeNOWsummit
- 17 goals to transform our world the United Nations: www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/en/