Staying on good terms with corporate exes 

Why organizations need to get better at alumni relations

By Ryan Galloway

Caroline Ghosn took a job at McKinsey & Co. when she was barely out of college. Just one year later, she was gone, off to launch the social good start-up Levo League. Since 2011, Ghosn and her company have garnered attention from the likes of Forbes, Fast Company and The Wall Street Journal. In other words, she’s already the kind of well-connected, high-impact executive to whom professionals in any number of jobs dream of having access. For the teams at McKinsey, though, she’s only an email away.

That’s because Ghosn is a member of McKinsey’s corporate alumni network. For the sales and business development teams at the global consulting giant, her membership in that network means a straight path to the chief decision maker at an explosive start-up. But she’s hardly unique: The 27,000 former employees who make up McKinsey’s alumni network include CEOs, start-up founders and thought leaders in a variety of industries around the world. Each is a potential client or resource—or a bridge to one.

Long the darlings of human resources executives, corporate alumni networks are lauded for their ability to generate referral hires and enhance employers’ brands. But for the most part, the value of these networks as a means of generating insights and inroads for organizational development goals of all manner—not just revenue but strategic partnerships, industry expertise, advisory services—has gone overlooked. That’s a shame, considering that companies today lose almost two percent of their employees to voluntary turnover every month (not to mention, those lost to layoffs or terminations). Indeed, the average professional changes jobs every four years. (Young ones jump ship even more frequently.)  

As a result, businesses large and small have a constant stream of employees filtering in and out of their organizations. Some, like Ghosn, will launch their own businesses. Most will land at other companies. Allare potential assets to their previous employers. Which is why alumni relations should earn a formal place in the relationship capital toolbox of every organization—and an informal one for every individual in the business/revenue/organizational development space.

By providing a smart and relatively inexpensive way for companies to stay in touch with those who have moved on, a well-managed alumni program will leverage today’s high-turnover culture to create hundreds or even thousands of meaningful connections. Every firm should review its own policies in regards to “separating” and “keeping in touch” with their exes. From RIF packages to exit interviews to alumni networks, there are a raft of touch points with former colleagues/future business builders to be exploited. Don’t break up badly. 

Ryan Galloway oversees content for The Hired Guns, a digital marketing and talent consulting firm in New York City. He has written for Business Insider and This is his first piece for RelSci.

Interested in starting an alumni relations program? RelSci can help your organization see into its alumni network and stay up-to-date on their next ventures. Learn more about the relationship capital platform.

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