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What’s the value of alumni relationships?

For those who stay connected, the benefits are rewarding

What’s the value of alumni relationships? “I’ll always be a Deloitte guy, and you’ll never change that,” says Chris Johnston, an audit partner based in Calgary. “You’ll never get that out of me.” Deloitte is where Chris got his start; it’s where he learned the ropes as an auditor. “It’s like joining a team or a fraternity. I did my ritual here. That’s how I see it.” Chris joined as a first-year accountant in 1993. He did his UFEs, became a CA, and learned his profession. But after six years, this self-described “Deloitte guy” decided to venture out and get a taste of working in industry. After a hiatus of seven years at Enbridge, Chris returned to the fold. Sometimes you just can’t take the Deloitte out of a Deloitte guy.

 

“Deloitte is my firm; I don’t have another firm,” says Chris, who heads the Global IFRS and Offerings Services (GIOS) practice in Calgary. Practitioners get close to their colleagues due to the firm’s team-based approach to client service. After months or even years of working together, people tend to develop strong relationships, whether professional acquaintances, mentorships or lifelong friendships. At one point, Chris had a big client in Kazakhstan, which took him back and forth to the client site at least a dozen times. “The people I shared experiences with in Kazakhstan, we’re always going to be close. We have a special bond.”

“We went through training together, travelling together, working on projects — all the ups and downs. Then came weddings and babies — it was so much more than just work that we shared”
– Amy Glynn

 

Establishing lifelong friendships
For many alumni, that bond remains strong to this day. It’s been 14 years since Amy Glynn and Tracey Whyte worked together at the Halifax office, yet despite the elapsed time, they remain lifelong friends. “We have a history. We shared so much,” says Amy, who’s been with Bell Aliant since she left Deloitte in 1997. “We share a birthday and we’re the same age, so we basically grew up together.” Amy started at Deloitte when she was 23. Two years later, Tracey joined. “One day, we discovered we had the same birthday, but Amy was born on the other side of the world, and I was born in Canada,” says Tracey (then known as Tracey Hoopey). “From then on, we made it a tradition to have lunch together on our birthdays.”

Nowadays, they may not manage it on the exact date, but they still make time to reconnect. “We went through training together, travelling together, working on projects — all the ups and downs,” says Amy. They also embarked on their CMC journey and earned their Certified Management Consultant designation together. “Then came weddings and babies — it was so much more than just work that we shared.” Their friendship remains, although their paths diverged long ago: Amy went to Bell Aliant, while Tracey became an entrepreneur. And they’re still in touch with Debbie Symonds, who recently celebrated her 30th anniversary with the firm.

Keeping in touch with former colleagues can be a challenge, particularly as busy professionals juggle multiple demands on their free time. But many alumni recognize the value of maintaining the relationships established early on in their careers — and it’s what compels them to stay connected. “Connecting with alumni and keeping those networks alive, especially over the long term, can be very meaningful,” says Richard Carson, national partner champion of Deloitte’s alumni program in Canada, and a Consulting partner in Toronto. Connecting may mean coming out to a social event, reading alumni communications, or just staying in touch with an old friend or mentor. Whatever the method, finding the time to connect can yield tangible benefits, from expanding your professional network to maintaining lifelong friendships.

Maintaining lifelong friendships is one of the benefits of staying in touch through the Alumni Connections program. Learn about the other benefits:

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