September 10th, 2015
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The Power of Alumni
Wikipedia says, an alumnus is a graduate of a school, college or university. As soon as you hear the term ‘alumnus/alumni/alumna’, what comes to your mind? Is it your high school where you spent a considerable amount of your young age wherein you learnt the basics of life or your college where you had an amazing time making friends for life and learnt about what you wanted to do eventually in life. You may choose either but the most essential fact is that the feeling of being proud to be an alumnus of an institution is common to everyone.
In today’s time, every institution is going back to their alumni to ensure that they can reconnect and provide their alumni a platform to engage in the best possible manner, be it with fellow alumni, the institution or current students. But why is this happening? Not only that, it has been happening in the US and UK since decades but has only started to pick up pace in India quite recently even though it is sporadic in nature. All this is because of the ‘Power of Alumni’. Institutions have now understood that the ‘way ahead’ is to ‘look back to their alumni’. According to me, here is a list of reasons why alumni can be game-changers for an institution
- Alumni can be direct promoters of the institution since they are the best people to talk about the experience they lived with students looking to join.
- Alumni can provide access to their network which would help benefit the institution directly as well as the students through an industry-institution connect.
- Alumni can provide the institution with resources which were never available earlier which could lead towards enhancing institutional capabilities and capacities.
- Alumni can also help in the growth of fellow alumni through intra alumni connections along with giving a social, emotional and economic advantage.
These are just a few reasons which are mentioned in a nutshell. Earlier, the influence of alumni was not being gauged but now, institutions have set up offices for alumni relations just to ensure that every alumnus is being tracked and engaged in the most effective manner. (Note: Engagement of an alumnus is a two way process; it means that not only the institution is getting what it wants out of the alumnus but is also ensuring that the alumnus is deriving enough value by engaging with them)
Alumni, on the other hand, simply feel the need to give back to their alma mater which has made them who they are in the present world. The power of alumni can be seen from one such example of a certain Mr Siddharth Yog, Founder of Xander Group Inc, a global investment company focused on emerging markets that manages over $2 billion of equity capital who is an alumnus of the famed Harvard Business School (HBS). On the 11th day of the 11th month of 2011 at 11.11 am, Siddharth Yog gifted $11 million as ‘guru dakshina’ to his professor Arthur Segel at the Harvard Business School, his alma mater. He added a dollar to that amount as ‘shagun’, or a token for good luck.
The above mentioned donation is one of the single-largest personal gifts an Indian has made to Harvard University. The gift of $11 million spans multiple Harvard schools and focuses on innovative science, educational access, public service and academic-public policy collaborations. The financial aid and fellowships have an India and emerging market focus.
As you can see from the above mentioned example, this is just one in a million stories through which alumni are constantly having an impact on their alma mater. Hope that institutions in India can catch on to the power of alumni very soon!