NIB Q&A: Jeff Barry, Founder, Boston Organics

Jeff Barry, Founder, Boston Organics, will be participating in the “​B Corps: Certification for Companies” panel at the 2015 Net Impact Boston Career Summit on February 27.

Jeff Barry Boston Organics, works directly with organic farms and wholesalers to deliver boxes of fresh, certified organic groceries directly to homes and offices, year-round. By offering 100% organic foods, Boston Organics is working towards a more just, healthy food system that benefits consumers, farmers, and our planet. Sign up today for the opportunity to join the panel discussion with Jeff Barry, Deana Becker, Director of Stakeholder Operations, Preserve, Margot Isman, Managing Director of Vera Solutions, Ryan Midden, General Manager, Ben & Jerry’s Boston, and Jackie Herskovitz Russell, President, Teak Media & Communication.

What inspired you to pursue a career with positive social or environmental impact?
I had always wanted to combine my interests in small business, environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Growing up in the 80s, socially responsible companies like Ben and Jerry’s and Tom’s Of Maine were becoming mainstream. They demonstrated that you could combine business and social responsibility. My experience in the Peace Corps further instilled that  and it also made me realize that I, as well as many of us in the U.S., have an opportunity (and obligation) to make a living in a way that also benefits society/world.  The country I served in, Comoros Islands, lacked the infrastructure to allow businesses to function without great challenges, and many people lived in poverty and could only focus on meeting their basic needs.

What’s the most interesting/most challenging aspect of your job?
Most interesting/challenging – there are so many challenges that are all very interesting…

  • Running a business that tries to be socially responsible, we are constantly reflecting and making sure we are doing the right thing. Becoming a certified B Corporation has been very helpful in providing guidance.
  • Quality control – working with produce, especially when it is organic and local is a constant never ending challenge.
  • Company culture – creating/maintaining a positive and healthy company culture takes constant work. As company and staff grows, it becomes that much more important.

What advice would you give to those looking for a career with a positive social or environmental impact?
Philosophically, I would say go for it. Don’t be complacent. Figure out a way to follow your passion and try to make sure that whatever you are doing can be used as a building block. As a mission driven company, some of the most compelling job applicants are those that have demonstrated at some level a commitment to environmental sustainability (senior thesis, work-study, internship, volunteer work, etc).

On a practical level – gaining experience in the functional skills is always important. If it’s an office job you’re looking for, having experience in an office environment is helpful. Joining groups/organizations like Net Impact and Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN Mass) are great for networking.

The theme for the Career Summit 2015 is ‘Impact Across Industries’ – do you think it is important for different industries and sectors to come together to tackle social and environmental issues and why?
It is important for different industries to come together to tackle environmental and social issues. However, prior to coming together, businesses must be willing to operate in a way that benefits all of its stakeholders; in addition to shareholders this also includes the environment and communities they serve.  B Corporations are a demonstration of what happens when businesses from different sectors come together to use business to do good.

Sign up today for the Career Summit on February 27 and prepare to be inspired!

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