Make a Connection - New KSAA president focuses on alumni engagement

Mary Slater

Find a path to involvement and take it.

That’s the message from Mary Slater (BSM ’03, MBA ’05), president of the Krannert School Alumni Association (KSAA). Not all 40,000-plus  alums have the means to make financial contributions to the school throughout their careers. But all possess the ability to make a difference.

“Whether it’s through visits to the classroom, judging case competitions or becoming a mentor, alumni have more ways to engage with students than ever before,” says Slater, the first female president of the association. “Part of what separates our students from their peers is their interaction with people from diverse backgrounds.

“We know those students will be well-educated and possess leadership skills. Their interaction with alumni leaders gives them an opportunity to engage with and learn from a different set of people beyond their immediate peers.”

Alumni engagement in the classroom and through experiential learning projects is one of the main initiatives.

“There’s a strong group of alumni who are continuing to bring more and more real projects to Purdue students,” Slater says. “Those opportunities really make a difference. Students aren't just graduating with internships, they’ve had the opportunity to work on projects independently and on teams. That helps them stand out among their peers.”

It’s a win-win proposition for alumni participants. In addition to offering projects that help strengthen the school's network, employers can obtain outside perspective from students on industry issues. The partnerships can also allow employers to scout potential talent for their organizations.

Slater understands that benefit. In addition to her role as business excellence manager and head of operations for Shell TechWorks, Shell’s Boston-based technology innovation group, she recruits students from Purdue into the organization, a task she calls her “bonus job.”

Along with assisting to match alumni with students in classes and projects, KSAA is involved in a number of strategic events that connect alumni with each other. In addition to Homecoming celebrations each fall, the Global Toast is held annually on the first Thursday in November. Celebrating the birthday of Herman Krannert, the event offers a global networking opportunity for all graduates and friends of the school in cities all around the world.

In April, the school holds its annual alumni conference, giving alums the opportunity to return to campus to hear from speakers, reconnect with classmates and celebrate the school's annual alumni award winners and graduation anniversaries. The KSAA board takes a leadership role in inviting alumni back to campus for the annual event, which was held on campus in 2022 for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.

Comprised entirely of School of Management alumni, KSAA largely exists to enhance the reputation of the school as a launching pad for hard-working, analytical and well-prepared students. Slater says it’s a mission that takes all hands on deck.

“Whether it’s sharing a few minutes of your time with students or working with them on a larger scale, alumni engagement helps move the school in the right direction,” she says. “If everyone will chip in and do their part, there’s no limit to how far we can help lift the school and change lives in the process.”


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