When Anjali Wali ’09 graduated from Babson, she didn’t really want to leave. “It’s a place that really always felt like home,” she says. As a Diversity Scholar, Women’s Leadership Scholar, and Presidential Scholar, Wali threw herself into every aspect of the College, including the South Asian students association, AMAN, where she served as president. So, after three years in the state treasurer’s office, she returned home in 2012. Now, as the director of regional programs and annual giving, Wali oversees the College’s 70 alumni clubs around the world. In many ways, she’s never left Babson after all.
What was your time as an undergraduate student like at Babson?
“I obviously loved it. I wouldn’t be back here working if I didn’t. Babson was the first place where I saw myself in the population. These were all people who were really driven. They were diverse. They were academically rigorous. I really loved that because it challenged me. The other thing is that Babson was big for me socially. I really found myself here. When I graduated, I remember telling my mom that I’ve always been my best self when I was here. And, I do think that is why I came back to work here. I feel like that as an employee as well. Just like high school, I did join a lot of clubs. I was a Women’s Leadership Scholar throughout my four years. That was an incredibly formative group. Many women who are part of that program are still some of my dearest friends. And, I worked a lot with the South Asian students association, AMAN. I started my first year as a board member, and by my senior year, I was the president. That was a big part of my legacy here, and certainly a lot of the people I meet on the road now from those times are friends from that community.”
What does your current role entail?
“At Babson, we run about 70 alumni clubs around the world—domestic and international. And, we do everything that involves engagement with the College. That includes managing volunteers in each of our regions, providing educational opportunities, curating social content, and traveling to the amazing places they live and work. We are tasked with being experts on all things in that place. We’re the radar across communities, figuring out how we can make connections and what would bring them back to campus to engage with what Babson is today. There are many different generations and backgrounds, and our role is to bridge those gaps, share the College’s evolution, and reminisce about what it used to be like. We find the common ground that unites all Babson alumni.”
What do you enjoy about visiting alumni around the world?
“It’s been a great way for me to see the world. Travel is a delight in this particular job for a couple of reasons. First, I get to go to all the best cities, in all the best states and countries in the world, because those are where we have the critical mass of people, so you get to see an incredible part of what it is to be on Earth. And, when you do this job for as long as I have, you have dear friends all over the world, and it’s my job to socially engage with them to hear what’s going on, to take them out to dinner, to see the companies that they work in and the new initiatives and things they’ve built. I am a naturally curious person, so I would want to know anyways, but it’s my greatest joy that it’s my job to go and do that for them.”
“For Babson, the things I have seen this network accomplish for one another, with one another, by one another—the value of it is so unquantifiable.”
Anjali Wali ’09, director of regional programs and annual giving
Have you been surprised by the breadth of Babson alumni around the world?
“The deeper I get into this industry, honestly, the more impressed with Babson’s community I am. They are so warm and hospitable to the alumni community. When I talk about that with colleagues at other universities and colleges, that is really a unique aspect of Babson. Also, Babson is just the right size. It is small enough that when you meet someone from Babson in your day-to-day life, it is such an event you stop, you talk. But, it is not so small that you’re going to know everybody. There are always people whom I’m meeting for the first time, which is such a gift. That part of it is really wonderful and has always surprised and delighted me.”
How important is Babson’s alumni network for the College?
“I think it is vitally important. We say often that you’re at Babson for four years, but you’re an alum for the rest of your life. When you think about the value of an education today, which is a conversation a lot of people are having, what is the cost of going to school and is it worth it anymore? The network does seem to me to be the irreplaceable piece of higher education. It is the most unpredictable portion of the equation. You can figure out what your academic ability to learn is going to be, who you’re going to be taught by, you can calculate what the financial input is going to be in terms of what you have to invest. But, it is hard to gauge what the benefit of that community is going to be over a lifetime, and every school has a different one. For Babson, the things I have seen this network accomplish for one another, with one another, by one another—the value of it is so unquantifiable. The benefit is there for the taking. It’s just a matter of whether you access it. In that very complicated conversation that’s happening right now, I do think the alumni network and what that means to a person’s long-term life is hard to measure, but I think it is perhaps the most valuable and precious.”
Two More for Anjali
What does Babson mean to you?
“At its core, Babson is the place where I am my most authentic self in all sorts of ways.”
Right now, what are you …
- Reading? “I am a sucker for a beach read. I just finished The Last Thing He Told Me. It’s a little mystery, and they made an Apple TV+ series about it. Whatever Reese Witherspoon says to read, I will read.”
- Watching? “I just finished ‘Ted Lasso,’ which broke my heart but I thought was a fantastic ending. I watch so much. ‘Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ just finished, and I loved that. I watched ‘The Last of Us’ on HBO, which is a zombie vibe. My sisters and I are big mini-series people.”
- Listening to? “I go to a lot of concerts. I’m going to see Dermot Kennedy in a couple of weeks here in Boston. I have James Bay tickets for later this summer. If you are a European singer-songwriter, you are probably on my playlist rotation. Podcast-wise, I am listening to ‘More Perfect,’ which is about the U.S. Supreme Court and is super interesting. I highly recommend it. I’m a big fan of ‘This American Life.’ I do a lot of ‘Radiolab.’ That’s usually my commuting content.”
- Doing in your free time? “I’m a relatively creative person. I do some graphic design work on the side for the Indian wedding market. I’m always working on a new home décor project at my place. And, then I just took a family vacation for the first time in three or four years. My parents and my two sisters, just the original nuclear (family), went to Spain, which was amazing.”
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