Please note that Circles is currently active in Boston, New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. The long-term goal is to scale Circles to multiple cities. HBS Circles are "HBS enabled; alumnae owned," meaning that this program would not be possible without the help of alumnae volunteers. See below for volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering to start a Circle in your city, please email: email@example.com.
Regional leaders are essential to Circles. They work with the HBS team to launch the program, and maintain Circles throughout the year. Regional leads attend an Open House and talk about why they are excited about Circles; they help determine what information to collect from alumnae in their region to inform the Circles formation process; they keep their region on track by troubleshooting logistical issues, people needing to switch Circles, etc.; and they lead the facilitator check-in calls (about monthly).
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 for the facilitator role. As a region is launching the program, the Circles team will reach out to each person who volunteers to be a facilitator to have a quick phone conversation to 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 and Professional Development staff, as well as HBS faculty member Tim Butler, senior fellow and director of Career Development Programs.
In the first meeting, the facilitators play a big role in helping to set the tone and structure of the group. They engage the group in conversation around what members want to get out of the experience and how they want meetings to be structured. In subsequent meetings, the facilitator role in the conversation is more subtle, jumping in if tough situations or topics arise. The facilitators are full members of the Circle and, aside from their special responsibilities, they engage in the conversation as peers and not leaders. Rather, facilitators are gentle guides for discussion, time management, group norms, etc. Our most successful facilitators set a warm tone, model vulnerability and are welcoming to all. Facilitators are provided with support throughout the year in the form of monthly facilitator conference calls with HBS staff during which all of the region’s facilitators share ideas and issues. Additionally, facilitators take on the responsibility of scheduling group meetings, securing hosts, and planning for food.