The Power of the Alumni Network
At Commencement ceremonies, Patrick Baird ’11, chair of the Babson Alumni Association, welcomed the Class of 2022 to the College’s powerful alumni network. “I encourage you to leverage the Babson alumni network. We’re now more than 43,000 strong across 125 countries,” he said. “There are no limits to the ways this network can support you.” We caught up with a few alumni, including one of their newest members, about the power of the network.
Corey O’Neill ’22
College Advancement Ambassador
It’s four days after Commencement, and Corey O’Neill ’22 is back on campus for the first time as a Babson College alumnus. He’s here to reflect on his time as a College Advancement Ambassador (CAA), and he’s sporting the program’s trademark green sport coat.
“In this green jacket, you stand out,” says O’Neill, who has worn that same jacket at Babson events in Boston and New York and countless times on campus. He tugs on the lapel. “So many good memories made in this.”
Along with Bhoomi Soni ’22 and Curtis Johnson ’23, O’Neill was one of three lead CAAs this past year, heading the group of 20 ambassadors who serve as liaisons between the student body and alumni network. The CAAs represent students at College events such as Back to Babson and partner with Babson Advancement to support alumni in a variety of ways.
“I treat it more like you’re the host at Babson,” O’Neill says. “It’s been terrific. It’s brought me so many different unique experiences than I could have ever imagined.”
At his first CAA event, the Centennial celebration in Copley Square, the Blank Scholar met both his scholarship benefactor, Arthur M. Blank ’63, H’98, and Eric Johnson ’72, P’08. Since then, in his three years as CAA, O’Neill has given dozens of tours and met “hundreds” of alumni and other friends of the College.
A natural networker, O’Neill says the connections he has made and observed have given him a unique perspective about alumni involvement. It’s not just about alumni giving their money but also their time and expertise. It’s about building relationships and fostering a community.
“In the CAA program, you see a whole different realm of alumni involvement at Babson,” O’Neill says. “If you have relationships with the alumni community, they will vouch for you or they will give you guidance or do introductions for you.”
Now, the new graduate is on the other side as a member of the Babson alumni. He knows the advantages of staying engaged.
“I’m excited because there’s two realms. There’s the school side of it, but there’s also the friendship side of it,” O’Neill says. “Now, whenever we hang out, it’s a Babson alumni reception. What ties us all together is Babson.”
O’Neill is leaving campus again. He’ll eventually land in New York City, where he will work as an investment banking analyst at Bank of America. But, first, he’s headed on a post-Commencement trip to Europe with Babson buddies.
After three years as a CAA, it’s his first Babson alumni reception.
Elissa Slovin Kalver ’09
Founder, We Got This
Elissa Slovin Kalver ’09 was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer at the age of 34 in July 2021, just a few days before her daughter’s first birthday. She tapped into the Babson network to start and grow We Got This, which helps cancer patients feel empowered, strong, and beautiful throughout their treatment and entire life.
“When I was diagnosed, my first thought was I have to do something. That’s what drew me to Babson to begin with: having the mind to do something entrepreneurial.
“In my current situation, the second I think of doing anything, I think about calling my Babson network: Gerri Randlett and some of my close friends. My initial small nonprofit idea of trying to help some people in a unique, specific way, went from being a very local idea—just for people suffering from breast cancer in California—and grew into a global tech platform to help cancer patients and their families.
“I’ve mostly been connected to other alumni through Gerri, and then the snowball effect of the network took over. Babson is such a unique network since everyone studies similar things.
“It’s so interesting to see what people have accomplished, many starting amazing businesses. I’ve connected unknowingly to Babson alumni through their products first, and then came to find out it was a Babson business.
“We Got This has grown to be not just my idea, but our idea made up of so many conversations with Babson alumni that made it into something much bigger than I could have made it on my own.”
Darren Franco MBA’00
Principal, Boston Mortgage Solutions; Past Chair, Babson Real Estate Group
Darren Franco MBA’00 is a 20-year real estate and financing veteran who is focused on ensuring an individualized and smooth process for all of his clients. He has utilized and fostered all aspects of Babson’s growing real estate network, including alumni, students, and faculty.
“The real estate industry isn’t as large as it seems. I remember early on, the Babson Real Estate (BRE) group was made up of people in commercial, residential, and peripherals—architecture, environmentalist. There is a wealth of information in the group, and I was able to build my networking sphere. You get different perspectives when people ask each other about our specific areas of expertise.
“The Babson network includes not only alumni but also faculty. In the last five years, Babson has really upped its game as it relates to real estate. Erin Degnan Escobedo was brought on to teach and design real estate classes with Paul Griesmer. She reached out to the (BRE) group to find guest lecturers who are practicing what they’re teaching and who are affiliated with Babson. I’ve done eight or nine classes on the residential side and made some great connections with students.
“Babson also has a real estate club for students. The co-presidents of the student group tapped our alumni group for a program on real estate careers, and I was happy to be on the panel. A recent graduate came up to me after the discussion and said that what I do sounds a lot like what he wants to do. To get him into the industry and have him be so eager to learn both financing and real estate was pretty impressive. He still works with me today.
“Overall, what I’m most impressed about is the willingness of alumni to connect and be a resource. I gave someone a meeting once because he was a Babson alum. And, I’ve been able to connect others to people that I know through Babson.”
Maya Mutalik ’21
Founder, Hope Sews
Maya Mutalik ’21 is a South Asian designer and social entrepreneur. Driven by her appreciation of timeless fashion, cultural traditions, and women’s empowerment, she founded Hope Sews to celebrate artisanal craftsmanship by using traditional textiles in contemporary forms. Her Babson connections helped her venture grow internationally.
“I got the idea for Hope Sews when I traveled to Ghana right before my freshman year at Babson. I met a seamstress and learned about an issue that many seamstresses face in low-income communities: lack of resources to take their business to the next level. I decided to use fashion to give back to seamstresses around the world.
“I met Gayatri Jolly while I was on the BRIC program. I went on BRIC with the lens of wanting to learn more about social entrepreneurship. In India, there was an environmental justice class and one of the excursions was visiting Gayatri’s studio, MasterG, and learning about her work. What she was working on was so in line with what I was trying to do. I came back to her studio, and we discussed projects we could work on together. We later did a mass collection together using her team and my designs.
“Our collaboration really opened up a huge network for me in India. It was a gateway to me developing this global supply chain. It was my company’s first larger-scale project in another country. Now, we just launched our India collection, our biggest collection yet.
“Because Babson is a small school and a tight-knit community, when you meet a Babson alum, there’s this instant connection and a desire to hear about each other’s projects and ideas. It’s very collaborative. The Babson community will deliver.”
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