Corporate Alumni: Gone but not forgotten

More firms are seeking to stay in touch with former staff

COMPANIES do not like to be abandoned any more than lovers do. Workers who quit are sometimes escorted out by security guards, their smartphones confiscated and their e-mail accounts deactivated. But in the professional services, former employees are increasingly treated as assets, not turncoats. Borrowing the concept of “alumni relations” from universities, such firms are trying to stay in touch with departed workers, hoping to turn them into brand ambassadors, recruiters and salespeople.

The notion was pioneered by McKinsey, a management consultant. Its up-or-out promotion system generates a steady stream of staff leaving on relatively friendly terms, many of whom go to work for potential clients rather than rival consulting firms. McKinsey has an online database of 27,000 former consultants. They are given access to a website which posts alluring job vacancies and regular presentations on business trends from the firm’s analysts.

McKinsey’s closest competitors have embraced this model. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), for example, refers to its leavers as “graduates”. It helps them to find new jobs, and even to negotiate a good contract with their new bosses. Once they have left, they continue getting free strategic advice from the firm’s partners. In return BCG asks alumni to help it recruit new graduates, and to brief them on the state of the industries they are now working in. And of course, it hopes they may send a bit of work in its direction. (Read More...)