Anna Mika, OAKland Group
Promoting their reputation, gaining recognition and increasing their enrolment figures. These are some of the strategic challenges facing organisations today. Of the many levers that organisations can activate, there is one which is essential: their alumni. The more organisations look after their graduates, the more they will benefit from having a powerful and positive echo chamber. To that end, they must be able to reach out to their alumni associations, which may be likened to orchestra conductors.
Organisations fall into one of two categories: some are looking first of all to increase their enrolment figures, while others prefer to be hyper selective by focusing on the excellence of the content they offer. Both types of organisation have a common objective: to increase their budgetary resources.
This is a question of increasing “customer” numbers on the one hand, and “offer price” on the other. In both cases, it is a matter of adding value to the organisation as a business. If the purely economic aspect serves as the marker for that goal, then the organisation’s image is the instrument for achieving it.
What are the levers influencing the organisation’s image?
Highlighting the organisation’s strengths is not an easy task, as it depends to a large extent on individual experience, the quality of the teaching, the commitment of the stakeholders, the organisation’s reputation, etc. The common vehicle for those strengths is recognition. The more recognition the organisation has, and the more positive that recognition, the more valuable the organisation’s diplomas will be to students and business leaders.
The attractiveness of the organisation, however, is also related to the number of students it enrols. If a organisation has more students, then potentially it will have a stronger voice.
Recognition and student numbers thus have an indisputable impact on the organisation’s financial resources, enabling the organisation to offer more attractive services.
So the big question is : Where to start this virtuous circle?
+ image –> + student –> + budget –> + quality –> + image… etc.
Perhaps by taking advantage of the ever-increasing potential of the organisation’s alumni?
The alumni are the direct link between the organisation and working life. They have an essential role as ambassadors for the organisation, representing it to outside communities. Parents, prospective students or company managers all rely on the opinion of those who have actually shared an experience at the organisation, i.e. the alumni.
To reach out to the alumni through their offices and associations is to focus on essential resources.
The stronger the alumni community, the more impact it has on the organisation’s image.
A community that serves your image
Alumni clearly play an essential role in the image of the organisation.
They are true prescribers, they speak from their own experience, and they can testify as to the quality of education at the organisation and, most importantly, as to how relevant the organisation’s teaching is to the business world.
What is more, alumni who had a good experience at the organisation are likely to promote the organisation to employers and prospective students. They are also likely to remain very active with the organisation, in particular by sharing their professional networks and opportunities.
This is a real challenge facing the alumni associations, as it involves a lot of work for them, particularly in maintaining the link with their communities as a whole, and also in encouraging their members to get involved.
There is no mystery to it. In light of the ever-increasing and ever-changing communities that alumni represent, the associations must be able to follow their members’ professional development almost from one day to the next. In concrete terms, this means putting in a lot of work on their data, which is their core activity.
By extension, we can conclude that the quality of the data that sustain the activities of the alumni associations is one of the most effective levers for working on the image of the organisation.