This March 2020, WCNY made the difficult decision to halt all in-person meetings due to the threat of COVID-19. Just a few short weeks later, WCNY flipped the switch and went completely virtual. We haven’t looked back since.
Thanks to that initial research into webinars and a concerted effort across WCNY’s executive team and many volunteers, the rapid transition to free virtual programming has been quite a success. And the response to these webinars has been truly overwhelming! By going virtual, WCNY has helped alumni stay connected to one another and with the Club, all while providing them with valuable programming. In addition to seeing active members and alumni on our webinars, we have seen renewed participation from prior members and have made new connections with many alumni who have never before reached out to the Club.
These connections have now also gone global with the participation of other Wharton alumni clubs, tripling participation. U.S. clubs, including Philadelphia, Charlotte and Southern California, and international clubs, including the U.K., Israel and India, to name a few, have joined us for many of our webinars. We have seen additional attendees on our webinars from such diverse locations as Dubai and Uzbekistan.
By going virtual, WCNY has expanded to that global network and has made the Wharton alumni world a slightly smaller, more connected and better-informed place. Thanks to a herculean effort by our VP of Programming, Jennifer Gregoriou, W’78, and the rest of her team, WCNY was able to quickly fill the programming pipeline with valuable webinars. WCNY leaders, including the Career Management and Affinity Groups, reached out to presenters with specific knowledge to assist our alumni better manage this confusing new world.
Other Club leaders reached out to presenters to help people make sense of the impact of COVID-19 on various businesses and markets, as well as on how to best present yourself and interview successfully in a virtual world, and how to stay mentally and physically fit while working from home.
Here is a sampling of some of our recent web events:
Jason Trennert, WG’96, Chairman and CEO of Strategas, is a market thought leader, author and guest on leading financial news programs. Jason hosted an engaging webinar in which he shared his insights on the impact of COVID-19 on the markets and the overall economy. Over 150 alumni registered for this early event. Jason responded , “I think it is wonderful that the Wharton Club of New York is making such a great effort to keep us connected and informed. It was my genuine privilege and honor to be able to participate.”
Natalie Edwards, WG’18, Director of Inclusion and Diversity at the Estée Lauder Companies, gave an interactive workshop on inclusive leadership. She shared, “When I was a Wharton student, I learned so much about the importance of work-life integration in Professor Friedman’s class on leadership. Now, I work in diversity and inclusion, and was honored to speak at WCNY virtually about inclusive leadership, because now more than ever, being a leader means empowering people to be who they are wherever they are.”
During the webinar, The Camino Way: Lessons in Leadership From a Walk Across Spain, Victor Prince, WG’96, shared insightful lessons from his amazing trek. The most impressive takeaway, aside from the valuable sentiments and breathtaking images, was the response it elicited from our alumni. In addition to generating approximately 100 participants, the range in graduation years extended from a Wharton undergrad from 1956 to a recently minted 2020 MBA grad! Talk about a broad impact.
Victor added, “I’ve shared the story of the Camino de Santiago on my book tour across 25 cities on three continents. In some ways, I liked this Zoom meeting format even more because it let me share videos and photos from the Camino that I don’t get to show at bookstore events. And no one had to travel!”
Marina Kreatsoulas, WG’16, hosted her Bodyweight Boot Camp, attracting 64 alumni to sign up. “Before the pandemic, I taught group fitness classes part-time in addition to my full- time role in marketing strategy. Now, I’ve seen the demand for virtual classes skyrocket!”
The Future of the Global Transportation Industry program featured Loli Wu, WG’94, and Jeffrey Ward, WG’91. This event, shared with the Wharton Club of Chicago and Wharton Club of Charlotte, generated over 100 registrants. The highly knowledgeable panel addressed the impact that COVID-19 has had on the industry and how new consumer habits, technologies and domestic priorities will transform the industry, going forward.
Mastering Virtual and In-Person Interviewing was conducted by career and executive coach, Carroll Welch. Attendees said it was chock- full of useful information on how to interview online. Topics included doing your research, the consultative style to interviewing, how to best present yourself in a virtual format, and even how to prepare your environment so that it is not distracting for you or the interviewer. It was a great addition to WCNY’s excellent Career Management series.
WCNY has now held over 30 webinars, and many more valuable and insightful webinars are coming up. For those of you who have not yet joined us, check out WCNY’s upcoming events and register for one of our free webinars. We urge you to take this opportunity to connect and spend time with your fellow alumni and gain access to this valuable programming. We look forward to seeing all of you online and, hopefully very soon, in person.