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Graduates, alumni, whatever the name that qualifies them, they are the best ambassadors of the establishment and its brand. As such, they are a strategic issue as stressed regularly Loïck Roche, Managing Director of Grenoble School of Management, “there can be no major brands without alumni.” These are assets of the institution that are the foundation of its value. The stakes are also multiple to create a virtuous circle between the school and its alumni at all stages of professional life. How to integrate them in the school from their first return to school to live an unforgettable experience? How to live our relationship and grow together until the end of their professional career?
Alumni: first create the link
The emotional bond, emotions for life
Our relationship with alumni is essential. She is emotional and emotional first. We successes intersect. Alumni are the expression of our success. This complex affective bond is built into the imagination from the student’s choice of orientation to this or that institution. The link is lived concretely from the beginning of the school year, during the years of study. An elder is getting ready very early, if the student experience has been good, he will come back. I expressed it in what I call the SRM, Student Relationship Management.
This bond remains emotional throughout life. We remember the good times or the hard knocks as in a big family. This bond is woven and often interacts in detail, in the moment. It is magnified in the sharing of values and a common vision of the world.
The network link, solidarity and professional
This moral support link exists between alumni and their school. If he is emotional, professional and supportive, he is still not very financial. In the USA graduates naturally give their home school or university when they are in a position or ability to do so, of course. This financial reflex does not exist yet in France. The development of school foundations and research chairs may provide new opportunities for expression.
The network is also a relevant way of recruiting employees on familiar ground or looking for new partnerships.
The link service, relationship for life
This raises all the questions of governance, business model, management-animation of alumni networks. The challenge is to maintain a community of motivated alumni, who remains connected in the long term, who shares values, certainly, but comes to seek adapted services. A school in disagreement with his elders goes right into the wall. Where is the right level of services? In terms of career support, advice, lifelong training. The nature of the relationship with the old ones and their returns vary according to the needs considering that our promotions are multi programs, multi sites and that their staffs grow regularly.
Networks and associations of alumni:
how to do ?
Attachment to school is built by ritual.
All the great human and managerial adventures were built on rituals. The alumni do not escape. On the contrary ! I attach great importance to the rituals of re-entries, for example. All of them came with different goals and durations but all are part of a community of destiny. In this perspective, we have decided to organize our GEM Alumni Leaders Summit which is held on the eve of the graduation ceremony.
It can be seen that the candidates who pass the oral contest love when they are elders who participate in the entrance juries. They are fond of them. I feel their will to defend values, a “school culture” that must be given and shared.
What model of governance? Outsource or internalize? Which economic model
Internalize the alumni service in the establishment or outsource it via an association? At GEM, we made the choice to internalize it by supporting the alumni association. A way to maintain a common culture not only professional, the desire to be together, to share. This association in the school is financed by endowment funds. But the economic model is looking for itself. What should we propose beyond bond and conviviality? A la carte services? Forfeit? Other forms of financing?
The implication in time varies according to the life cycle of the alumni. After fifteen years of professional life, the need for a link naturally comes back but it can be solicited before and after this first phase of professional life. Expectations vary according to the age, type and type of training followed (initial, continuous, Grande Ecole program, MBA, specialized masters, etc.). All have different objectives that must be understood and accompanied. A challenge