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Learning from McKinsey & Goldman Sachs’ Alumni Relations Programs

Learning from McKinsey & Goldman Sachs’ Alumni Relations Programs

When it comes to Alumni Relations programs, it is always insightful to compare and contrast what you are doing in comparison to other schools’ programs.

At the recent Global Leaders Summit (GLS) held at Oxford University, we had the privilege of taking benchmarking to a new level by learning and re-applying from the for-profit sector to the not-for profit sector.

The session at GLS was expertly chaired by James Stofan, Vice President at Tulane University.  The two panellists were Sean Brown, Director, Global Alumni Relations at McKinsey & Co, and Leora Singer, Vice President of Alumni Relations at Goldman Sachs.

You can watch a recording of the full session below.


I took two important insights from the session that I think can be applied to the education arena.

  1. What is your unique value offering to your alumni?  We heard the consistent message in the session of the need to provide a strong value proposition to alumni.  McKinsey’s focus for example is on supporting the alumni network, sharing knowledge and promoting alumni career services.  In particular, I found it interesting to hear that McKinsey leverage their company expertise to the benefit of alumni by providing nearly 200 knowledge webcasts.  What is stopping schools providing better access for their alumni to the abundance of academic expertise?
  2. It is not about the money.  I found it somewhat surprising to hear both McKinsey and Goldman Sachs’ alumni relations programs are in fact not focused at all on how much new business is being brought to their respective firm from alumni.  They do not even measure this.  Their goal is simply about building a long-term alumni relationship – that is real alumni engagement.  Every communication to every alum is focused purely on that goal.  Should schools’ alumni relations departments also be independent from the wider ‘new business’ goals of the school?

The session was a fascinating way to hear the raw principles of engaging alumni by viewing an institution that is truly different to yours.

I would welcome your thoughts.

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