Education is Essential

COVID-19 has presented a tremendous challenge for Saint Ignatius High School to balance our mission of providing an academically rigorous, Catholic, Jesuit education along with the health and safety recommendations of leading healthcare experts. On Monday, March 15, students returned to full-day, in-person learning.

Saint Ignatius High School

Leading with Kindness

“Our mission is at the heart of everything we do—from the products we make to how we give back," says Mike Barkley '84, CEO of KIND Snacks. In this alumni profile, Laura Hammel profiles a values-driven leader whose career was shaped by his Jesuit education.

The food industry is laden with good intentions. Coca-Cola uses plant-based plastic bottles. Kraft Heinz conserves water. McDonald's sells sustainably sourced coffee. A compelling reason for many companies to work corporate social responsibility into operating practice might be that 66 percent of consumers spend more for products sold by sustainable brands, according to Nielson’s annual Global Corporate Sustainability Report.

Now, flip this concept on its head. What if a company was founded and driven to operate its business with a mission to do good at its core, using that goal as the inspiration for its products, versus the other way around? Daniel Lubetzky, founder of KIND Snacks, did just that—creating a socially impactful and economically sustainable business in 2004. Lubetzky tagged Mike Barkley ’84 to become KIND’s Chief Executive Officer last year.

“KIND’s mission is centered on making the world a little kinder and healthier place…one snack and one act at a time,” says Barkley. “Saint Ignatius’ purpose is to form Men for Others who make a positive impact on the world. Fully integrating my faith-based background with a purpose-driven organization was a once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

Without his education at Saint Ignatius, where he followed in the footsteps of his father Harry '53, Barkley might not have found his North Star. Freshman year at Saint Ignatius was a wake-up call. “I had to step up the hard work and discipline,” he says. “Of equal importance, Ignatius taught me the critical role of servant leadership.” Both experiences still play a big part in Barkley’s life and career today. 

After earning an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Barkley dove into consumer product marketing at Frito-Lay in Dallas. “I was fascinated by the psychology of consumer behavior—of crawling into heads and hearts to understand and influence attitudes and behaviors,” he explains. “The relatability of food—its appeal to the senses and an ability to be creative with it—made it especially fun.”

“Our mission is at the heart of everything we do—from the products we make to how we give back. One of my favorite programs is the KIND Snack & Give Back Project. We transform our iconic wrappers for a limited time to celebrate communities that haven’t received their fair share of kindness and donate all proceeds to partner organizations that are directly supporting those communities,” Barkley explains.

“Jim Skerl taught us that personal happiness and success in life ultimately come from an unselfish mindset,” Barkley says. It is this ideology that will drive Barkley to leave his mark on KIND.