It’s not what you know, but who you know

Panel discussion at Granite City.

The Albion experience continued for more than 40 alumni at a networking event on Thursday, March 27 at Granite City Food and Brewery in Troy, Mich. This was the second of two events coordinated by the college’s alumni engagement team, and it featured a cocktail hour, time for networking and a panel discussion featuring three distinguished Albion alumni.

The panel consisted of Jeff Petherick, ’85 alumnus of North Pointe Capital, Sue Sadler, ’77 alumna of Dawda, Mann, Mulcahy & Sadler and Steve Gordon, ’04 alumnus of Global Visibility Group.  They focused on questions including how they managed changes in their career paths, how they connect in the professional world and what professional contact they have with other Albion College alumni.

In response to one attendee’s question, Sue Sadler, an environmental lawyer, said supporting Albion College’s brand is critical for current and future alumni success in the job market.

“I see our job as ensuring that when people see a graduate from Albion College, they know what that means. They know the high quality of the education and the character of the person will mean a good match for their company,” Sadler said.

The other two panelists shared Sadler’s commitment to the Albion College network. Steve Gordon, a young entrepreneur, commented that when he develops new business, he always looks to see if there is an Albion connection to reach out to first.

“When developing contacts for new target customers, I always start by trying to find an Albion alumni or Albion connection to introduce myself to that new customer,” Gordon said.  “For example, when I wanted to grow my business with Navistar, I searched LinkedIn and used the keywords ‘Albion College supply chain,’ and found a name of an Albion alumni working at Navistar in supply chain that I contacted.  Even though I never met that person at Navistar before contacting him, I knew that because he was an Albion College graduate, he had a high probability of being someone of high character and someone who would make an effort to help me grow my business,” Gordon said.

While Gordon is always looking to connect with Albion’s existing network, Jeff Petherick, an investment manager, is growing the network by reaching out to current students.

Each year, Petherick’s firm hires an Albion intern. Usually, an internship such as one at North Pointe Capital, is the first opportunity Albion students have to gain critical experience and a business acumen that allows them to develop their own network and become a strong part of Albion’s existing network.

Recent graduates seemed to place the same value on the Albion network as the panelists did, with 60 percent of attendees being from classes after 2000.

In attendance at the event was Chris Brower, ’02 alumnus. He describes Albion alumni as an asset he relies on and looks forward to seeing grow.

“My wife and I both attended Albion College and we have many great memories from our campus experience,” Bower said. “It is great to see that the college is expanding, that experience through these local events where alumni can reconnect with each other and business networks can be expanded.”

In addition to representing more than 30 years of graduating classes, the event hosted alumni that are also the parents of current Albion students.

One of those attendees was Jay Pyper, ’79 alumnus, who also met his wife at Albion and whose daughter, Holly Pyper, Rochester sophomore, is a current student.

“Albion is a family experience for us with my wife, my daughter and I all being Brits,” Pyper said. “The shared experience brings us closer and allows us to expand our network across the generations.”

While event attendees of all classes understand the value of their college networks, current students don’t, according to Elinor Marsh, executive director of alumni engagement. But she and her team are working to address this problem.

“[Networking] doesn’t tend to get on their radars until after they’ve graduated, when in fact, networking should start their first day of classes.  A newly developed event – Briton Career Connections, offered the Friday of Homecoming – has been created to get current students thinking about and in the practice of networking sooner than post-graduation,” Marsh said.

With the successful competition of two events this past semester, Alumni Engagement is building on that moment and plans to facilitate more events in the future.

This story, originally posted April 21, was updated April 22 to reflect that Jay Pyper is a ’79 alumnus, not a ’76.

About John Rogers 8 Articles
John is a senior from Rochester Hills, MI. He is majoring in economics and is interested in economics and how it can help everyone get the m.ost out of life. Twitter: @John_RogersJr

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