Change of pace in alumni activities

By Astri Kamsvåg

18 September 2019 17:51

Change of pace in alumni activities

The alumni activities at NHH is one of our five strategic priority areas in the current strategy period. But why is this so important, and what does it actually mean? And did you know that as an employee you can attend the various alumni events?

Therese Sverdrup

The strategy states that "NHH shall revitalise its alumni work and contribute to a vital, relevant and dynamic alumni network based on a wider range of alumni activities and the establishment of network groups and advisory alumni committees."

"There are several reasons for taking good care of former NHH students," says Therese Sverdrup, Vice Rector for Innovation and Development.

Closer to the labour market

Morten Hilt

"One obvious reason is that the ministry has instructed us and the rest of the university and university college sector to organise activities for former students, but we also see that closer contact with the alumni gives NHH students access to practical cases and better insight into the labour market. In addition, alumni activities are a criterion for doing well in rankings and accreditations such as the Financial Times and Equis."

"It is even more interesting that it benefits us as a school of economics to build good relations with former students", says Therese.

"The alumni are good ambassadors for NHH and it is therefore important to offer them something that they perceive as relevant and useful, namely professional top-up and networking. Through different mentoring programmes offered by NHH, the alumni are also given the opportunity to give back to NHH, which is something we have solely received positive feedback on. Our former students work in various parts of society and the business community, and they can be important door-openers for NHH in different contexts. Close contact with the labour market is one of NHH's characteristics.’

Alumni prioritisation

Halfway through the strategy period, the revitalisation is well on its way. According to Senior Adviser Morten Hilt, who has been responsible for the alumni activities in recent years, the most important alumni activities are the following:

- The annual alumni conference 

The conference has changed its name from 'Opptur' to 'Fram' this year, and will take place at The Hub in Oslo on 15 October. This year the conference is divided into two parts. One four-hour session during the day with academic content and one session in the evening for people to socialise makes the event more flexible for the participants, as they can choose to participate in one of the two parts. The aim is to gather 600 participants.

- International development

The alumni event in London has been held since 2015 and is well established. In 2018, the first gatherings took place in Paris and Copenhagen, and this year saw the first alumni event in Singapore in February and in New York this October.

"We observe that the opportunities to meet NHH and people at NHH abroad are many," says Morten.

 - 'At home with alumni' events

A new concept that is currently being tested is alumni events held at businesses where former NHH students work. So far, there have been such 'at home with'–events at De bergenske, Salto and AVO Oslo. On 26 September, it is AVO Bergen’s turn, and already on 3 October, an alumni event will be held at Norwegian Rain in Paris.

- Mentor programmes

NHH has now two different mentor programmes that involve former students. 'Mentor for a day' was launched during the fresher's week in 2018, and brings in alumni to supervise new students as they are working on a case. The other mentor programme is new this year and is a cooperation with AFF. This programme pairs up former students with current students for six months. The first group of 24 satisfied pairs have finished their work together this week.

- Class reunions

NHH has a long-standing tradition of organising class reunions. It is the former students themselves who take the initiative to organise the events. Most classes celebrate their class's 40th and 50th anniversaries, but some groups are more active and organise such events more often. The role of NHH is to facilitate and host them. Normally academic staff at NHH give talks at these events, but it can also be former students from the class and who are now working at NHH. Examples include Stig Tenold and Jarle Møen, who were in the class of '89, and  Siri Pettersen Strandenes of the class of '69, both of which marked their anniversary in October (calculated from the year the class started)

- Cooperation with Executive

Another area we have worked a lot with during the past year is intergrating NHHE more into the alumni activities. Former students are an obvious target group for the NHH Executive programmes, and it is therefore important that former students are made aware of Executive. NHHE has tailored Business Upgrad and Tech Upgrade for them.

- The alumni committee

NHH has established an alumni committee comprising 13 former students. The members serve on the committee for four-year terms.

"The alumni committee has been highly valuable in developing alumni activities," says Morten. "There is genuine interest in contributing, and they are good sparring partners for me, who is involved with alumni work every day," he says. 

"The biggest challenge is getting former students to actually sign up for the alumni network," says Morten. Approx. one third of the students (incl. the NHHE students) sign up for the network when they finish their studies. Once they have signed up, very few leave. Morten says that the goal is to exceed 10,000 members over the course of 2019. The number of participants at the alumni events have during the same peiod increased from 450 in 2016 to 1,600 today.

Draws attention

"When we offer former students events and activities with good content, it becomes more interesting to participate. During the past year in particular, I have noticed that the interest has increased as more join the alumni network and participate in the events," says Morten.

In addition, other university colleges and universities – not only in Norway – are starting to notice that NHH are focusing on alumni. They comment that they have noticed that we have a lot of exciting content and that there has been a change of pace. This is very positive and contributes to strengthening NHH as an educational institution,’ he claims.

The almuni events are also open to employees. Register here to join the network

Read more:

NHH students are allocated their mentors

‘The mentor scheme is a good initiative that NHH has rightly introduced to link students to alumni in the business community,’ says Inga Øystese Hovde. This week, she met the NHH student she is going to follow up over the next half year.

More internal news