01 Jun 2001

Making A Difference: HBS Club of Puget Sound Reaches Out to Young Alumni

Re: Erik Benson (MBA 1997)
by Elena N. Berg


Tracy E. Kwiker (MBA 1995) arrived in Seattle three and a half years ago when she was promoted to manage store operations for a Toys “R” Us region in the Pacific Northwest. Eager to establish contacts in her new community, Kwiker began attending HBS Club of Puget Sound luncheons. The club met once a month, and as one of its youngest members, Kwiker recognized the need to get more young HBS alumni involved. “I went to the president of the club and told him I was interested in hosting a dinner party for recent HBS graduates,” says Kwiker. Along with the new club president, Erik D. Benson (MBA 1997), she took the initiative and organized a successful event.

By creating awareness and encouraging participation through flyers, telephone calls, and e-mails, Kwiker quickly established herself as the driving force behind the HBS Club of Puget Sound’s rejuvenation. Serving first as vice president of membership and now as club president, Kwiker has worked to build a basic loyalty to the club and to foster connections to the extended HBS community. Her innovations have included more events targeted toward the entire alumni base, young alumni socials, and a club Web site (www.hbsps.com) that serves as the epicenter of all contacts and communications between the club and local alumni.

Today, with 275 members — its highest membership rate ever — the HBS Club of Puget Sound is flourishing. One of its most popular events, the yearly Seattle Trek, attracts over sixty HBS students in search of summer and permanent jobs. Held in the Seattle area on Presidents’ Day weekend, the event provides students with a firsthand look at the Seattle business community. Students tour a variety of companies and attend a venture panel discussion, a job fair, and one of the club’s monthly young alumni socials. The experience is “a great way to boost participation in the club and to build relationships with future alumni while they are still students,” Kwiker explains.

Another exciting highlight this year was Dean Kim B. Clark’s February 2 visit to Seattle to meet and address local HBS alumni. “It was the most important event in our history,” says Kwiker of the club’s first visit by an HBS Dean in twenty years.

As for other monthly events, club members participate in educational luncheons, trips to the symphony, and, most recently, the Northwest Harvest Work Party. Thirty alumni volunteered at Northwest Harvest, Washington’s largest food bank, to help distribute food to people in need in Seattle. “It’s important for the club to give back to the community,” notes Kwiker, who also feels the event provided members with a memorable experience.

Looking toward the future, Kwiker hopes to sustain the club’s newly expanded leadership structure. Of the forty volunteers currently working in officer positions or on one of several committees, ten graduated from Harvard Business School last year. To Kwiker, this proves that the relationship between the club and current HBS students is vital. “Recent graduates participating in the HBS Club of Puget Sound are helping to create a structurally sound volunteer organization with continuity from year to year,” she observes.

According to Kwiker, much of the club’s success is due to the loyalty of its sponsors. “They have been an absolutely critical part of our strategy,” she explains. “They have made it possible for us to take risks and to provide free programs geared toward young alumni.” Goldman Sachs, Deloitte & Touche, Korn/Ferry International, Polaris Venture Partners, Voyager Capital, and OVP Venture Partners all offer assistance and sponsorship to the club.

With an expected increase in membership for 2001, the HBS Club of Puget Sound looks forward to an exciting future. Kwiker feels a tremendous sense of pride in the club’s progress. “It is the greatest feeling to see the numbers of our members and volunteers, as well as our enthusiasm, grow year by year,” she says.

Featured Alumni

Featured Alumni

Class of MBA 1995, Section F

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