September 28, 2023


Future Depends on What You Do

Consultancy alumni networks focus on mutual advantages

Simon Freakley, chief executive of AlixPartners, admits the consultancy was “crazy not to have completed it earlier”. The “it” in concern is a official alumni network, which the business produced about 4 several years in the past. “Our former colleagues have develop into the very best customers. It’s great for business enterprise.” In point, if the alumni local community were an organisation, it would be one of Alix’s top clientele, based mostly on revenues.

Consultancies this kind of as Alix, which previous calendar year hosted 17 gatherings throughout the earth for its alumni, are obtaining this kind of networks an vital way to link with ex-colleagues — regardless of whether to convey them in as new clientele, or to hear their perspective on anything, or even rehire them.

Emma Sinclair, main government of EnterpriseAlumni, an alumni administration computer software company, says consultancies know they will have to “treat alumni with the exact same stage of care and focus as they do consumers and prospects”.

“People who leave consulting go on to operational or company roles and are hence possible clients . . . so there is a enormous industrial benefit,” says Sinclair. Her consultancy clients say it is 3 periods less costly to earn enterprise from alumni than from non-alumni. Expert alumni are also 5 instances additional possible to push the “I want to do business” button on their alumni application than individuals in other sectors, she adds.

EY says about 10,000 of its alumni community are in C-suite positions, and equipped to decide on which consultants to retain the services of.

Andy Woodfield, associate at PwC, a specialist companies company with a substantial consultancy small business, sees alumni networks as “mutually beneficial they gain the two the alumni by means of connection enhancement, career chances and insights, and the business by way of the generation of brand ambassadors, long run purchasers and prime talent”. Firms should really deal with all workers “as alumni from the minute they join a firm”, he states.

Tom Wright, commercial director at Kubrick, goes a move additional, describing the consultancy’s alumni community as component of their “employee benefit proposition, to appeal to talent”.

In the previous couple many years, alumni programmes have “changed fundamentally”, says Elena Hickey Saroli, global alumni chief at EY, which has a large consulting arm. The pandemic intensified the network’s electronic interaction, such as the use of Instagram and Twitter. Alumni networks applied to be the principal forum for previous colleagues to interact, she adds — but, with competitiveness from social media, notably LinkedIn, companies need to assure they give ex-staff an appealing proposition. “How do we [the alumni network] stay related for men and women when they can connect in other methods?”

This kind of competitors usually means networks have to be additional complex and verify their really worth. “The demographic is different,” says Hickey Saroli. Beforehand, folks used their total careers with organisations, she explains, and alumni teams would usually be for individuals conference up in retirement. Now, “people go employment on a regular basis — tenure is additional like 5 years”.

People today may perhaps belong to many alumni networks, so firms have to make guaranteed their giving is compelling. For EY, it is about world-wide networks and creating connections in accordance to spot or sector. Now in its seventh calendar year, EY runs an “alumni relationship week” with situations throughout 150 metropolitan areas in 60 nations around the world. “The overriding variable of alumni is it’s a personalized relationship . . . you have to be respectful of the psychological connection,” states Hickey Saroli.

At Oliver Wyman, the alumni network runs smaller tailored gatherings for associates who do the job in the identical sector, these kinds of as a dinner previous calendar year for 25 persons in the chance sector. About 18 months back, Michelle Daisley, companion in finance and danger at the organization, questioned ex-colleagues what they preferred from the community. It boiled down to “interesting individuals performing intriguing factors . . . people seeking to hire, connections for suggestions, or purchasers.” 

Attracting previous employees to rejoin the enterprise is an important portion of the mission.

EY suggests about 15 for every cent of its exterior hires are alumni. Daisley, herself a returner to Oliver Wyman, says it is “one of the most secure bets we can make. You by now know just about every other. You’re using the services of persons who’ve experienced that point of view from working outside”.

Former colleagues can also turn into reliable buddies. An ex-Alix staff approached Freakley at an occasion not long ago to say he did not believe the firm’s values ended up remaining conveyed successfully further than the organisation. “Sometimes, we can fall into the entice of thinking inner conversation receives outdoors,” claims Freakley.