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A school is only as strong as its alumni. In the third and final installment of our series of talks with IMD Business School Dean of External Relations and Swiss Education Group board member Professor Dominique Turpin Ph.D., we find out what sets our graduates apart from the rest and discover the importance of keeping in touch and maintaining a network, long after graduation day
It’s a small world after all.
We might have had a hard time believing it lately, but how often have you bumped into a neighbor in another country? Spotted an old school friend in a far-off city? Discovered you share a mutual acquaintance with someone you’ve only just met? We’re all connected, maybe even more than we realize.
Just as learning doesn’t stop as soon as you say goodbye to university, the relationships you build with your lecturers, your colleagues, and your advisors don’t disappear into thin air once you’re out in the working world. You take them with you. The contacts you make are for life, not just for your studies.
Sure, you’ll likely form lifelong friendships while studying for your bachelor’s or master’s degree, but you’ll also meet people who’ll shape your professional, as well as your personal, life, now and in the future. You only need look to LinkedIn to see the value of connections in career development – a chance encounter might mean landing a dream role, brainstorming a new business idea or forming a new partnership.
“You never know when paths will cross, or where connections will lead,” agrees Professor Dominique Turpin, IMD Business School Dean of External Relations and Swiss Education Group board member. “I had a wonderful experience recently working with one of Swiss Education Group’s alumni. It was only by accident that I found out their background, but it made perfect sense, as I had noticed a real difference in their positive attitude.
“This is typical of what I see of graduates from the group: they take the initiative and they have good common sense. They are pragmatic. Frankly, I don’t know whether the schools themselves always seem to find people with all these great, innate qualities, or if they just bring them out in them, as there’s no rulebook telling you how to develop these insights, but the attitude, the initiative, the discretion they have is very desirable. In hospitality, you deal with many high-level executives, who expect a certain kind of conduct.
You never know when paths will cross, or where connections will lead. I had a wonderful experience recently working with one of Swiss Education Group’s alumni. It was only by accident that I found out their background, but it made perfect sense, as I had noticed a real difference in their positive attitude.
“Both Swiss Education Group and IMD operate in a very multicultural environment and, from my point of view, this is such a bonus for students. We often take it as a given that people will be sensitive, perhaps because in Switzerland we’re very open to different cultures, but sadly not everywhere can say the same. This sensitivity is ingrained in our graduates and is absolutely critical to working in an international industry like ours.
“Swiss Education Group alumni are also very hard working. Sometimes, we have emergencies on weekends, and they are the ones that are always keen to step in and help. That’s invaluable to an employer.”
This reputation for excellence and quality, diligently maintained by the alumni, can only benefit the next generation of students coming behind them.
“Word-of-mouth is everything,” Prof. Turpin agrees. “If the industry starts to recognize that people from a certain school, or group of schools, have the right attitude, the right mindset, the right initiative, employers are going to be more inclined to hire them, and suggest the school as a first port of call to people who are interested in working in the industry.
“Alumni are the greatest ambassadors. Yes, you can do some PR, but it will never have the same credibility as hearing from people who’ve been there, done that. They are the best sales people, because a recommendation from an alumni is always more powerful and persuasive to a prospective student. We need to take care of them and recognize their contribution.”
Indeed. You can tell a lot about a school by the way it treats its alumni. Does it keep up with them and champion their success? Not only is this vital for the alumni themselves in terms of their own networking and career progression, and for the reputation and growth of the school, but for future alumni, too.
Alumni are the greatest ambassadors. We need to take care of them and recognize their contribution.
“Alumni are extremely precious,” says Prof. Turpin. “They help schools improve, they can reshape curriculums, and, if you maintain a good relationship with them, they might even come back to you. We’ve had graduates resume their studies at IMD, for instance – in fact, 65% have returned within five years. They can also introduce current students to potential new employers or internship opportunities.”
Swiss Education Group is proud of its enviable network of both elite alumni and industry partners – but there’s always room for more! Alumni can offer so much to those following in their footsteps, to the students starting out on their own journey.
This small world of ours needs more people who can lift each other up and celebrate each other’s successes. Will you be one of them?