A letter from Steve Wolf, Alumni Council Chair
We began our May 2013 meeting by welcoming new members Anna Wilds (MBA 1989) of Augusta, GA and John Murchison (MBA/JD 2002) of Charlotte. Anna, John and our more long-standing members (23 in total) all spoke about what motivates us to serve on the Council. Across our team, there is a strong desire to give back to the School that equipped us for successful careers and facilitated strong professional and personal relationships.
Our first task was to discuss Kenan-Flagler’s social media strategy, with the goal of surfacing ways to improve alumni activity via social channels. We were joined by CMO Michael Schinelli and Marketing Director Heather Harreld, who in advance had shared the school’s social media objectives, target audiences, site presence and growth. Through a robust discussion we surfaced several ideas to drive engagement with Kenan-Flagler via social channels. These include better promoting School research, ramping up faculty-generated blogs, holding faculty/alumni discussions, taking fuller advantage of Twitter (e.g. “retweeting” Dean Dean) and improving use of hashtags and search engines in order to increase traffic related to Kenan-Flagler. We also gave feedback on the marketing team’s vision to build a “Content Hub” which would be a central online source housing articles, research, videos and more. The group also realized that prominent alumni (including but not at all limited to the Council) can serve as “subject matter experts” for Kenan-Flagler, by providing articles or blogs related to business functions or issues.
We also discussed how the School can better leverage social media for giving campaigns (especially to engage younger alumni) and how class- and geography-specific efforts can improve giving among all alumni. This led to a broader conversation about School branding. The Council felt strongly that better alignment on Kenan-Flagler’s branding goals – what the school most wishes to be known for – will help improve content for not only social media, but all marketing activities.
Next, Dean Jim Dean briefly updated us on the state of the School. He emphasized the school’s focus on both “IQ” (functional business skills) and “EQ” (leadership, ethics and other crucial intangibles). Jim also outlined the continued success of the MBA@UNC program, which recently graduated its first cohort. As one example of this bold program’s success, its first 19 graduates (the “O19”) gave over $23,000 to Kenan-Flagler upon their exit, with a 100% participation rate. Outstanding!
(Following our spring meeting, we and the Kenan-Flagler community learned of Dean Dean’s promotion to UNC Provost. Jim’s commitment to Kenan-Flagler and bold leadership were outstanding, and we know his energy and vision will serve UNC well as Provost! We wish him a fond farewell!)
In the afternoon we addressed the school’s upcoming Capital Campaign, joined by Associate Dean for Advancement, Brad Shafer. While details are vague at this early stage, Kenan-Flagler will undoubtedly have to meet substantially higher development objectives. Given our members’ individual experiences related to development, we raised several ideas for the School to consider. These included developing thoughtful case statements at the campaign’s outset, identifying and supporting class-based “ambassadors” and regional volunteers, using storytelling to link giving to real-world student and alumni successes, engaging corporate partners to target alumni within large organizations, launching a consecutive-giving society (like UNC’s Bell Ringers program) and initiating a “buy-back” program whereby donors can recapture years where they missed making gifts, better communicating donors’ giving histories, and identifying and promoting sources willing to match donations of others.
Finally, the Council discussed the impact of a new way to assist the school, which we piloted in the Spring: virtual sessions with school functions on topics of their choosing. This step was viewed positively, and we hope to extend this method in months to come.
On a personal note, I vastly enjoyed my year serving as the Council’s chairperson. The role afforded the opportunity to work more closely with school leaders, and to better understand (and hopefully respond to) fellow members’ motivations and working preferences. I’m excited to continue serving the school through the Council, especially at what is a truly exciting time for the school given its stronger global presence, embracing of online teaching methods and increased focus on leadership.
As always, we on the Council welcome any thoughts or questions from fellow alumni.
Steve Wolf (MBA 2000)
Alumni Council Chair 2012-2013