From the Managing Director of Alumni Relations: A Community for Life
Kavitha Bindra ’05, a Yale SOM graduate who leads the school’s alumni relations team, reflects on the richness of the alumni community.
When I was admitted to Yale SOM, I received a wonderful welcome to the community from several alumni and students. The warmth and generosity of spirit of these individuals in helping me decide which school to attend made a huge impression on me and was a leading factor in my ultimately joining Yale SOM’s Class of 2005. It was clear to me from the outset that I was joining a community not just for two years, but for life.
Yale SOM’s alumni now number more than 7,800, and they make up an incredibly connected, passionate, and diverse group. Despite being small in number, SOM alumni tend to pop up wherever one happens to go; one running joke among alumni is that when NASA arrives to create the first colony on the moon, they’ll discover that Yale SOM alumni are already living there. About a fifth of Yale SOM alumni live outside of the United States, and we have 54 active Yale SOM alumni chapters spread across the world, including those in San Francisco, Japan, Toronto, London, and Atlanta. Our chapters play a huge role in welcoming and orienting SOM students during summer internships and newly minted alumni who move to various cities after graduation. Every year, each Yale SOM chapter hosts a “welcome event” to which all admitted and current students are also invited, and the network that develops from these events has proven invaluable to many alumni as they progress in their post-SOM careers.
It is incredibly common for SOM alumni to receive leads from their fellow alumni that result in their first, second, or third jobs post-Yale SOM; this was certainly the case for me, as both of my post-SOM roles were earned through connections made through my SOM network. Many alumni meet partners and spouses through their network and cultivate lifelong friendships that deepen across the years. Personally, I still consult my “kitchen cabinet” of SOM classmates whenever I need guidance on any issue. My classmates who became mothers before I did were invaluable resources on raising a baby and continue to serve as touchstones when I think about work-life balance and managing gender dynamics in the workplace.
Yale SOM alumni are passionate about the school’s founding mission to educate leaders for business and society and actively seek to embody this mission regardless of the career or personal paths they pursue after graduation. SOM students get to engage directly with alumni who advance the school’s mission through Yale SOM’s Donaldson Fellows program, which recognizes alumni for their career and personal achievements and brings them to the school to engage with students through a day of programming.
In addition to the Donaldson Fellows program, alumni return to the school and engage with students in various ways. Alumni recognize the value of their experience at Yale SOM and give back by returning to campus to recruit students and help them prepare for their career searches through informational interviews, résumé and interview preparation, and networking. Our alumni also bring their intellectual gifts to the classroom and to lectures open to the entire SOM community. Just in the last few weeks of the fall semester, for example, Indra Nooyi ’80, CEO of PepsiCo, spoke as part of the school’s Leaders Forum series and conducted a candid Q & A session with attendees, while Matt Kopac ’09, the manager of sustainable business and innovation at Burt’s Bees and vice president of The Burt’s Bees Greater Good Foundation, met with members of the Net Impact student club. As Dean Ted Snyder notes whenever he meets with SOM alumni groups, our alumni are critical contributors to the intellectual life at Yale.
Having worked in both Admissions and now Alumni Relations at Yale SOM, I can testify to how alumni connections with students, as well as their continuing connections with each other after graduation, positively contribute to the Yale SOM experience. For me, my SOM experience did not end when I earned my MBA in 2005; almost 12 years later, I now consider the faculty, staff, classmates, and current students at the school part of my community for life.
Managing Director of Alumni Relations