The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia recently played host for an evening to some of the city’s finest art and some of Wharton’s brightest minds.Alumni from around the Delaware Valley gathered in the museum on January 23 to visit its galleries and hear several of the School’s distinguished professors offer insights into their latest research. The event was the second in a series of global stops for the More Than Ever Tour, a celebration of Wharton’s new $1 billion campaign. The tour began in Tokyo in October and unites alumni with faculty for an evening of networking and thought leadership.
Through four roughly 10-minute presentations at the Barnes, alumni were introduced to innovative work conducted by Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics Peter Conti-Brown; management department chair and David Pottruck Professor Nancy Rothbard; Whitney M. Young Jr. Professor and Professor of Marketing Americus Reed; and Gad Allon, Jeffrey A. Keswin Professor, Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions, and Director of the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology.
Allon, focusing on the enormous market that today is known as the gig economy, spoke about the various factors that employees of businesses such as Uber weigh while deciding when, and for how long, to work. This market, he said, could boost gross domestic product globally by $2.7 trillion in less than 10 years.
Conti-Brown, meanwhile, analyzed the importance of laws, history, politics, and ethics on financial institutions such as hedge funds and insurance companies, while Reed spoke about how effective branding helps companies create loyal customers. Rothbard offered advice on balancing personal and professional personas in the age of social media.
“These events give alumni access to unparalleled lifelong learning opportunities from Wharton’s world-renowned faculty and chances to meet and reconnect with fellow alumni long after graduating,” said Lizann Boyle Rode, executive director of alumni relations for Wharton External Affairs.
Throughout the evening, attendees also were treated to self-guided tours of the Barnes’s eclectic collection of artwork.
For Francine Tabas W76, a Wells Fargo executive, the event provided a chance to learn about the School’s latest initiatives and to catch up with other graduates.
“It’s a way to keep connected to the School, to hear what’s going on,” she said, “as well to connect with fellow alumni and hear what other people are doing.”
Charles Marion W86 C86 L89, a partner at law firm Blank Rome and an officer of the Wharton Club of Philadelphia, said Wharton events have enabled him to greatly expand his network. “People are very receptive to meeting fellow alumni and very open about trying to help each other, whatever it might be,” he said.
For others, hearing from Wharton’s faculty was a means of professional development. “I myself am at a point where I want to take my experience that I’ve built for the last 10 years and see how I can share my work with other people,” said Christie Irizarry WG13, a senior manager at consulting firm Accenture. Irizarry said she attended the event to see the professors’ presentations so that she might eventually offer similar thought leadership to others.
Next up on the More Than Ever Tour is a stop in Miami on February 6, featuring sessions with two faculty members: Mauro Guillen—Dr. Felix Zandman Professor of International Management and Anthony L. Davis Director of The Lauder Institute—on technology and the aging population; and marketing professor and Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor Barbara Kahn on how retailers win customers in the age of disruption. The tour continues with events in New York on February 28 with Jeremy Siegel, Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance; Washington, D.C., on April 30; and São Paulo on June 5.