- Who are the facilitators and how are they chosen?
Facilitators are alumnae volunteers who agree to help the Circle meet, bond, and stay on track. The goal is to have two co-facilitators for each group. In the participation survey distributed to all alumnae in each region, there is an opportunity to volunteer to be a facilitator. The Circles team will then reach out to each person who volunteers to be a facilitator to have a quick phone conversation, learn more about her, and her goals as a facilitator.
Before groups are launched, facilitators will attend a three-hour, in-person training session with HBS Career & Professional Development staff, as well as HBS Faculty member Tim Butler, Senior Fellow and Director of Career Development Programs.
- How often do Circles meet and how long are meetings?
Circles typically meet once a month for 2 hours.
- Where are Circles meetings held?
Meetings are held typically in the homes of participants, though restaurants, conference rooms and other spaces work too as long as they are comfortable, quiet, and private.
- Does the host provide a meal?
This depends on the time of day your Circle meets and what you have agreed upon as a group. We want this commitment to be very low-pressure for the host. Some Circles decide to not serve any food, others small snacks, and in others everyone contributes a little money for food and drinks. Your Circle will have to discuss what everyone is comfortable with in your first gathering, and what is easiest for the group.
- What do alumnae discuss in Circles?
Each Circle will have the freedom to discuss what they choose. In the first meeting, facilitators will guide conversation around group norms, meeting structure, group intentions and goals (if the group would like to establish any). Facilitators are given optional conversation topics to present to their Circle, if the group is interested. Each Circle will create and form its own identity based on its members. We leave it to all of you to determine what that is, and how that manifests in the meetings. We have found that the most successful Circles discussions grow organically. This should be a casual and welcoming space for women to share life experiences.
- Are there larger events for Circles participants?
We are working to develop larger regional events for Circles participants, where members have the chance to meet women outside of their Circles. Your Facilitator will inform you if an opportunity becomes available in your city.
- What if I have a pre-existing conflict with another member of my group?
We want your experience with your Circle to be as comfortable as possible. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will place you in another Circle if possible.
- What is the typical time commitment for a facilitator (outside of meetings)?
Prior to your Circle’s first meeting, you will have an initial phone conversation to discuss the facilitator role, which lasts 15-20 minutes. This will be followed by a 3-hour in-person training in your city. On an ongoing basis, the time commitment is about two hours per month. Facilitators participate in monthly one-hour calls with other facilitators and program leadership to share ideas, successes, and issues. Meeting planning typically takes roughly one hour per month, but can be less if you plan out several months at a time. Regional leaders will communicate with Facilitators via email. While we will try to keep email to a minimum, frequency will vary.
- Is there a fee to join? / Are there costs I should anticipate?
No. There is no fee. As mentioned above, your group may ask for a small contribution for food and beverage. However, that is not mandatory to participate.
- Are there career building opportunities within Circles meetings?
While career and professional opportunities may emerge from Circles, by virtue of the fact that you will develop new relationships with HBS women, Circles are not intended to be career networking opportunities. Members should not use their Circle to market services or products in any way. If you are looking for networking or career building opportunities, we would be happy to connect you with the HBS Career and Professional Development Office, or your local HBS Club.
- My schedule is unpredictable so I can’t commit to attending all or most meetings. Can I still join?
Commitment is a key ingredient to success. It is important that those who sign up for the program make a real effort to attend all of their meetings. We are asking participants to commit to the program for at least 12 months. Having just a handful of members who cannot fully commit to take part consistently for 12 months can derail or at least lessen the experience for the whole group.