Alumni Forums provide confidential space to grow professionally, personally
Steve Terusaki, MBA 89 (left), directs the Berkeley Leadership Forums, a model that was begun by Bob Halperin, co-founder and president of Alumni Forum Services. The forum structure allows members to efficiently and effectively address important issues. The pair aims to offer Forums everywhere there are alumni.
Everyone feels vulnerable at some point in their career, be it from professional or personal challenges. Talking freely isn’t always possible. Enter Alumni Forums, groups of eight to 10 Berkeley-Haas alumni who meet monthly in confidential settings to learn from one another.
Learning happens not by giving advice, but through exchange of personal stories that bring fresh perspectives to members’ challenges. “It’s connection on steroids,” says Bob Halperin, co-founder and president of Alumni Forum Services, which administers the groups. Halperin started the first Forums at Harvard. Berkeley is the only other business school under Alumni Forum’s banner.
Steve Terusaki, MBA 89, who directs the Berkeley-Haas Forums, says the dynamic melds well with Haas’ culture. “The Forum is a way for alumni to live the four Defining Principles,” he says. Indeed, Forum members are constantly learning, working beyond themselves through experience sharing, questioning the validity of business assumptions, and coming to the table confident in their abilities yet seeking trust and collaboration with fellow members.
Interested in learning more about Alumni Forums? Take the next step and submit a profile: berkeley.alumniforumservices.com.
Members of the Berkeley-Haas Alumni Forums say the experience adds great value to their business and personal lives. Here’s a look at how some have been transformed.
“People in our Alumni Forum group are authentic, and the confidentiality rules help people open up and speak genuinely about the challenges they’re facing. This helps facilitate reaching a conclusion that is difficult to do with your board, your subordinates, or your peers. It’s also helped me to have a more open leadership style. If you’re reaching a stage of your career where you’re not clear how to develop to the next level, Alumni Forum is an excellent step.”
EVP, Finance and CFO, Geron Corporation
“The Forum is my first reconnection with Haas since graduating and has allowed me to establish new networks in my own local area. Preparing to present an issue to the Forum group has helped me better define the problem, including elucidating my own feelings about the situation. Tapping into the insights of Forum members and receiving such support on a monthly basis has sharpened my active-listening skills, improved my presentation presence, and broadened my problem-solving abilities.”
Founder and CEO, Jumpstart Recovery
“Forum members are my trusted ‘consiglieri’ in some of the most sensitive situations. When two factions on our board were at odds on an issue that could make or break the survival of the organization, I was responsible to mediate and find a solution. Tensions were running high, and no one was fully objective. Forum was a safe place that helped me tease out the real issues and prepare for the political navigation. The board found middle ground and our organization survived.”
General Counsel, Google
VP, Corporate Development, Access
“By sharing stories and ideas about personal challenges—caring for aging relatives, finding balance in personal relationships, getting involved with nonprofits—with people similarly situated in Silicon Valley, I’m more confident that the challenges I face are shared by others and are manageable. I do everything I can to protect the monthly Forum meetings on my calendar.”