HBS Alumni Forum Services



What is the Return On Investment (ROI)/How do I justify the cost?
Investing in a Forum is like making an investment in the well being of your business, yourself and your family. While there are no guarantees, there are countless examples of Forum members in the Young Presidents Organization, Entrepreneurs Organization and other associations who have made significant financial gains or realized savings as a result of the wisdom shared by their Forum members. Forum members also benefit from new perspectives on career choices, personal and family relationships and other life challenges. Additionally, participants learn communication and interpersonal skills that are useful in every aspect of members’ lives.

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I have a good network of personal and professional friends. Why should I also join an Alumni Forum?
Many alumni are fortunate to have a trusted group of friends, family, and business colleagues who can offer advice and support them in times of need. An Alumni Forum provides an important complement to those relationships:

  • The forum includes people with whom you have no previous substantive relationship and no conflicts of interest. It thus affords you with new and fresh perspectives from peers who are often more qualified than other confidants.
  • The structure and protocols of forum ensure you can efficiently and effectively address important issues, in a way that informal conversations may not allow.
  • It's on your calendar. The discipline of forum ensures that you regularly step back and reflect on where you’ve been and where you are going.
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I'm really, really busy. Is now the right time to join a Forum?

Ironically, if you are so busy you don't see how you can take on another obligation; this may be exactly the right time to commit to a monthly Forum meeting.

How can that be? Many members share that it is the four hours they invest in Forum each month that helps them maintain the right priorities, focus, and balance during the remaining 29½ days of the month. Each month the harried member will find a group of peers who are often equally stressed over their many professional and personal obligations. And he or she will learn from the experience of other executives who are also trying to make it all work and hold it all together. The worst decision may be the opposite of what you think at first: NOT joining or NOT showing up at your monthly meeting.

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Is joining an Alumni Forum right for me?

An Alumni Forum is not for everyone, but it can be a powerful, even transformative, experience for those who are:

  • Open to change, with a genuine interest in learning and growth as a person.
  • Willing and flexible to try new processes
  • Interested in stepping outside of one's comfort zone by being open and vulnerable, which are central to building connections and a foundation of trust.
  • Interested in building meaningful relationships with fellow members.
  • Willing to speak openly about concerns, but with a respect for the group's decisions.
  • Able to commit time to Forum. Monthly meetings are typically 3-4 hours; an annual retreat is typically 1.5-2 days.
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What is the role of confidentiality?
Confidentiality is critical to building the trust that facilitates meaningful discussion in the Forum environment. It is a cardinal rule of any Forum that all matters discussed in the Forum are confidential and not to be disclosed to people outside the group.

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What are the time and cost commitments to be in an Alumni Forum?
Each Forum sets its own schedule, typically meeting for about three to four hours monthly and holding an annual 1-2 day overnight retreat. Each Forum launches with a full-day orientation session, which is scheduled and facilitated by Alumni Forum Services. Future meeting dates are set during the orientation session by mutual member agreement.

Each alumnus who joins a Forum pays an annual fee of $1,200 plus a one-time initiation/orientation fee of $600 to Alumni Forum Services (AFS). Beginning in the Forum's second year, AFS offers reduced services for a lower fee at the discretion of the Forum. For the full service fee, AFS provides a turnkey service to alumni clubs, their Forums and individual members, including initial surveying of alumni, sorting into appropriate Forums, professional facilitation of Forum orientations and retreats and ongoing training and support. Because AFS focuses exclusively on Forum services, the company is able to support Alumni Forums at a fraction of the membership fees charges by other executive-level organizations. Forum members also agree to share ongoing food and other meeting costs and to join and remain a member of their local Alumni Club. For more details click here.

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Are the fees for joining an Alumni Forum paid by me or my employer?
Alumni Forum initiation and annual membership fees are often covered by employers as a professional development, continuing education, or training expense. Membership in an Alumni Forum provides personal and professional growth, both of which improve leadership skills and make Alumni Forum participants a greater asset to their employer. In fact, while forum benefits are high and tangible, the cost is far less than executive education or coaching programs that companies regularly pay for. The case for having your company fund your Alumni Forum membership is, therefore, an easy one. Please feel free to share this informational flyer about Alumni Forum with your employer.

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How do Alumni Forums get started, and how are they perpetuated?

In joining a Forum you make a one-year commitment to participate in a monthly meeting and attend an annual 1-2 day retreat. Commitments are renewed on a year-to-year basis. The Forum experience has proved to be so valuable that many Forums have been running for ten years or more. In fact, in sponsoring groups like the Young Presidents Organization and Entrepreneurs Organization, the Forum program is recognized as the most valued benefit of membership.

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Are HBS forums open to people who are not HBS alumni?

Generally, HBS forums are open to all alumni who have an active membership with their local HBS club. This includes graduates of the MBA, DBA, OPM, AMP, GMP, PLD, and select other executive education programs. On a limited basis, HBS forums are also open to other executives, entrepreneurs and leaders of business, non-profit and government organizations who are alumni of Harvard College or other Harvard graduate schools. Existing HBS forums may, at their discretion, choose to apply a narrower definition of peer criteria (HBS or Harvard alumni only) or a wider definition, accepting others who meet their peer criteria.

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How are Alumni Forums constituted?
In assembling Alumni Forums, Alumni Forum Services gathers information from people interested in the program, and puts together groups consisting of people who, based on the criteria they share in their profiles, are likely to develop an effective Forum experience together. In general, it is helpful to have a mix of people who face similar types of challenges, but who are likely to have differing perspectives, so that there will be a fruitful exchange of ideas. The primary criteria for forming appropriate peer-group Forums include scope of responsibility, size of organization and geographic proximity.

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How are Alumni Forums led and managed?
At the Alumni Forum’s orientation session, the group selects from the group a volunteer moderator and secretary/treasurer for its first year. The moderator’s role is to prepare the agenda for each monthly meeting, ask for volunteers for other roles and lead each meeting. The secretary/treasurer keeps notes on attendance, handles meeting logistics and manages the group’s finances. Each Alumni Forum is an autonomous group. The School and the local Club make no contributions to and have no responsibility for individual Forum finances.

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What are the formal terms and conditions for participating in an Alumni Forum?
In cooperation with your school, Alumni Forum Services has developed a standard set of terms and conditions for members participating in Alumni Forums. These terms cover when Initiation/Orientation and Annual Fees are paid, refund policies under different circumstances, and appropriate uses of AFS’s proprietary Forum materials. These terms and conditions are communicated to all members when they join an Alumni Forum, and are also available by clicking here.

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What happens during the orientation session?
The orientation provides the foundation for launching a Forum. During this day, members learn the guiding principles of Forum, build the foundation of the group dynamic, begin to get to know their fellow Forum members, participate in an actual Forum meeting and set the groundwork and structure for the Forum. A sample agenda follows.

History of Forum
Training Goals / Agenda
Critical Success Principles
Forum Protocol
Communication Starter
The Lifeline/Connection Exercise
Forum Roles & Responsibilities
Sample Meeting Agenda
Parking Lot/Presentation Selection
Presentation Coaching
Forum Presentations
Forum Norms
Moderator Selection
Meeting Scheduling
Closing Exercise

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How can I listen to an informational conference call about Alumni Forums?
Alumni Forum Services holds 1-2 informational conference calls when new Alumni Forums are launched. These conference calls are designed to address the following:

  • Learn about the unique benefits of Alumni Forums
  • Hear what has made Forum “the secret advantage of successful leaders” for years
  • Be able to ask questions to better understand the benefits and membership requirements
  • Learn how being a member of an Alumni Forum will have an impact on your professional and personal life
You can access a recording of the most recent informational conference call as follows: (video)

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Why do Business Schools and Alumni Clubs and Chapters work with Alumni Forum Services to deliver this program?
Alumni Forums offer substantial benefits to those who participate, but their success requires expertise, training and administration beyond the capability and resources of volunteer leaders and administrative staff. Business schools and alumni groups offering this service have found one of the foremost experts in the field and have negotiated fair pricing with Alumni Forum Services to provide this turnkey solution.

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