Happy spring. As the snow finally melts here in the D.C. area and the birds peek out, it reminds me of the annual cycle we all go through in our lives.
As always, the topic of engagement comes to mind when thinking about my semi-annual Wharton Magazine letter to our community. In this instance, I would like to make the case for everyone to engage with our dynamic club system. With 75 clubs around the world, Wharton’s Global Clubs Network continues to be a great avenue to channel one’s entrepreneurial spirit, contribute back to our community and practice what has been described to me as “enlightened self-interest.” As a former president of the Wharton Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, I know firsthand the pride gained from giving back.
Why does being a part of the club system aid in channeling entrepreneurial spirit? Our clubs are managed by volunteer leaders who have broad oversight. The task requires leadership skills, including public speaking and team management; networking skills, including developing a welcoming environment for all; and last but not least, financial and accounting skills, as most clubs are run independently and oversee budgetary and financial issues. For younger alumni, it is a great way to network and develop skills that will be tangible to future career successes. For more mature alumni, it provides a way to take skills learned throughout a career and expand upon them in a virtuous feedback loop.
How do club leaders contribute back to the community? Clubs cannot run themselves, and after stripping away the rich credentials and strong brand, ultimately what makes our clubs and our community tick are people and engagement. As one of the pure outward-facing aspects of our community, the club network continues to be critical as a means of connecting with people at an individual level and maintaining the high standards we set for ourselves and for those around us.
What is enlightened self-interest and how can you benefit from it? Engaging with other Whartonites at club events around the globe leads to interactions, which become relationships, which can lead to future ventures. In my career, for instance, I have found direct opportunities through my interactions at club events and have made connections that have led to a multitude of business relationships. In a world that is complex and fast-paced, being able to meet with and connect with fellow Whartonites almost always leads to great long-term relationships and useful connections.
In closing, new community leaders are always welcome. I urge all of us to “lean in.” Please feel free to reach out to me, and I will help facilitate introductions. Clubs are an experience everyone should relish as a means of connecting our vibrant community.
Bruce D. Schulman WG99
President, Wharton Alumni Executive Board