We all face professional and personal lives full of conflicting demands, ambiguity, challenges and stress. What if you had a personal "board of directors" to help guide you through difficult decisions? What if they also helped you grow your business and build stronger relationships? To do just that, each HBS alumni forum meets monthly, discussing the real things going on in our lives and how they are affecting us. From work to family to health we get deep and real. At each meeting, members learn from the shared experience of others to help them gain insight and make better decisions.
HBS alumni forums (and likeminded peer groups elsewhere) do just that. Meeting regularly, discussing the real things going on in our lives, helping us go deep and get real.
Inspired by similar programs at Young Presidents Organization and Entrepreneurs Organization, hundreds of HBS alumni have participated in forums since 2009. Alumni Forum Services offers all HBS clubs and alumni (and other affinity groups) the resources to launch, lead and participate in their own forums, whether club-based or interest-focused, in-person or virtual.
HBS alumni discuss their forum experience
HBS Forum has been a life-changing experience. It builds upon the lessons learned in the HBS course Authentic Leadership Development and provides a diverse, engaged, group of alumni the chance to explore solutions to business problems and grow as a leader. I've gotten to meet alumni in other industries and career stages who have become trusted advisers and close confidantes. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity.
HBS Forum has been a life-changing experience.
Most HBS alumni events (and I have attended many) involve casually socializing with other alumni. In contrast, my HBS Alumni Forum has been the most impactful HBS-related experience I have had since graduating, allowing for far deeper and meaningful conversation.
My most impactful HBS experience since graduation.
Forum is about establishing a trusted community of business colleagues with whom we confidentially share experiences and develop a respect for each other that transforms each one of us to be better than we can be by ourselves.
A trusted community of business colleagues.
My HBS Forum has been meeting for over five years and has been a key part of my life. Without the support and encouragement of my fellow Forum members, I may never have taken on the role of president of the HBS Club of NYC. Definitely worth the time commitment!"
Definitely worth the time commitment!
"My HBS Forum experience has been transformative in my life. With coaching from my forum, I’m a better business leader, a better spouse, and a better parent. This is by far the most valuable part of my HBS alumni experience."
With coaching from my forum, I’m a better business leader, a better spouse, and a better parent.
People in our Alumni Forum group are authentic, and the confidentiality rules, help people open up and speak genuinely about the challenges they are 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.
Confidentiality helps people open up and speak genuinely.
Forums provide a peer support group where you can get real, where you can be honest about the difficulties you are having, and where you can share the fear of failure which causes so many people to self- destruct. Having this kind of group in your life is invaluable.
A peer group where you can get real, be honest, and share the fear of failure.
My Forum experience has been transformative in my life. With coaching from my forum, I’ve been able to help my company avoid many pitfalls, make tough decisions, and grow our business. I’m also a better boss and a more effective communicator because of my forum experience. This is by far the most valuable part of my YPO experience, and as an alumnus (and past President of the HBS Association of Boston), I am thrilled that Forums are now available to HBS Club members.
Transformative in my life.
My Forum goes far beyond just a group of people who share stories and meet once a month. It is a sanctuary, a place where I am free to be myself, free to express my rawest thought and emotions and not be judged, and continually feel the support of all my group members in any and all situations.
A place where I am free to be myself.
My Alumni Forum has helped me look at my life through a different lens. It allows me to take advantage of the unbiased experience and knowledge of others who have no dogs in the race. Our only goal is to help each other professionally and personally.
Helping me to look at life through a different lens.
Forum has helped me in business in many ways. It’s been a terrific resource for those hard multi-faceted decisions that involve money and markets but also people and reputation. Forum training has also given me an additional set of communication skills around listening and getting to the core of an issue inside the company and with customers and vendors.
A terrific resource for hard, multi-faceted decisions.
Forum is about gaining perspective from people who I trust, who are truthful, and who commit to confidentiality. I can’t get this in any other place.
I can't get this any other place.
I am really getting a lot out of my experience in my HBS Alumni Forum in Atlanta. I recently went through a job transition, and the group was excellent at helping me think through options for next steps as well as helping flush out the most important factors to me for selecting my next career gig. It is so nice to have a group of smart, motivated, caring folks to help you think through important business and personal issues.
A group of smart, motivated, caring folks
I have been fortunate to participate in an HBS Alumni Forum group in Toronto – it has provided me a deep set of trusted relationships with a group of fellow HBS alumni who share extraordinary perspective at my most challenging and most opportune moments.
Providing me a deep set of trusted relationships.
I am very blessed to have amazing and supportive friends in my HBS Forum. It is a powerful network that helps me bounce ideas in business and life. I am an entrepreneur and it can be lonely with lots of questions on my mind. My forum helps me think clearly about both my consulting and start-up.
I am very blessed to have an amazing and supportive forum.
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.
My trusted "consiglieri"
My participation in Alumni Forums has impacted my success as a CEO. Prior to joining Forum, I had few outlets for key insights and guidance to address the many singular challenges in my role. As most know, it is difficult if not impossible to have confidants inside the business. In addition, I need to maintain an objective, healthy and productive relationship with my Board, so am selective about information shared up, down and across my organization. That said, there are situations and challenges that benefit from peer input. Forum is the outlet for this.
Forum addresses the many singular challenges of my CEO role.
My HBS Alumni Forum in Toronto is my most powerful asset in closing the gap between who I am today and who I can become.
My most powerful asset.
"My YPO Forum has been essential to my personal and professional development. A Forum’s diverse members offer rich insights and expertise, shared in an environment of mutual support and common learning. It has been the most valuable part of my YPO experience. As an HBS alumnus (and past President of the HBS Club of Chicago) I am enthusiastic about the availability of forums to our alumni.
Forum has been essential to my personal and professional development.
The insights, openness and wisdom of my HBS Alumni Forum have influenced me greatly. I won't soon forget their comments, life philosophies, and impactful experiences. The examples of my Forum colleagues will serve me well as I seek to develop a leadership style rooted in respect for others, transparency and self-understanding.
The insights, openness and wisdom of my forum have influenced me greatly.
I have been working with the Young Presidents’ Organization for over four decades and have seen first-hand that Forum is among the most powerful benefits of YPO membership. Members are uniformly enthusiastic about how their Forums help them make better personal and professional decisions, and deal with all the pressure and loneliness of business and personal challenges. I am pleased that Forums are now available to Harvard Business School alumni who I think will benefit in similar fashion.
Members are uniformly enthusiastic about how their Forums help them.
My forum was key in helping me manage a difficult job transition. Having a supportive group of smart, objective and caring people to bounce ideas off of and do "reality checks" proved to be invaluable as I balanced a search with a challenging job situation. As I have moved into a new role, my forum has helped me think through ways to maximize both my professional and personal success. For me, being able to learn from others' experience in a supportive environment is one of the biggest benefits of Forum.
A supportive group of smart, objective and caring people.