01 Jun 2001
Making A Difference: HBS Club of Puget Sound Reaches Out to Young AlumniRe: Erik Benson (MBA 1997)by Elena N. BergTopics:
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 Sounds 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
clubs 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. Clarks 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 clubs first visit by an HBS Dean in
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, Washingtons largest food bank, to help
distribute food to people in need in Seattle. Its 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 clubs 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 clubs 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
clubs 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.
Class of MBA 1995, Section F