Spotlight on Volunteers: Anupam Agnihotri SLN2015

“Volunteering makes you feel good,” says Anupam Agnihotri SLN2015. He should know, after giving up a huge amount of free time to chair the organising committee for the 2016 Sloan Summit. Why him? “I am a programme manager, so it was an obvious fit, and I’m still in London.

"The main return was 170 Sloans thinking this year's event was great. Success is always satisfying but beyond that, it was satisfying from the point of view of getting such a large group of alumni together and feeling it could snowball. It was about creating a legacy, a sustainable platform for the future.”

“Anupam was the driving force,” says Nat Holtham in the LBS Alumni Relations office. “He was a dynamo in terms of getting things done and moving them along. He put a lot of thought and effort into it. And there was a level of professionalism to the Summit this year that was new.”

Anupam says that they set out to transform the Sloan Summit – now in its third year – into something beyond a reunion and closer to the founders’ original vision. “How could we take it to the next level? Our thinking was if we do a good enough job, create the infrastructure and build momentum, it will start to become a calendar event that people look forward to, and that will help us take the Sloan brand forward. Having a tight team of people with a similar driving force and thought process helped a lot.”

The number of attendees has doubled from 85 at last year’s event to nearly 170 in 2016. The event was live-streamed around the world and, for the first time, alumni from Sloan fellowship programmes at MIT and Stanford were included.

It gives Sloan alumni the opportunity to network with other senior executives and hear the latest business thinking from world-class speakers. “It’s not just a reunion; people won’t turn up just for that. You have to offer them something more.”

Going forward

Anupam and his team secured an impressive group of speakers, including LBS faculty and Sloan alumni who are at the top of their game. “We thought about who’s hot. If you get the right line-up, people will come to listen.

"We were very lucky as we got Julian Birkinshaw, Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, who is doing cutting-edge research in today’s business thinking; Richard Hytner [Adjunct Professor of Marketing and founder of Beta Baboon]; Paula Sussex [CEO of the Charities Commission]; and Carla Cico, who is on the board of directors of Allegion, Alcatel-Lucent and e2v.”

Dominic Houlder, LBS Adjunct Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, was also a big draw. He is the longest-serving Sloan professor, having taught on the programme for over 20 years. “There was a huge emotional connection: almost everyone in the room had been taught by him.”

The Sloan Masters is an intense, immersive programme for successful executives with 18 years of management experience who want time to decide where to go next in their careers. It’s also the hardest LBS programme to get onto. “Sloans have a certain level of pride,” Anupam smiles. The full-time, 11-month programme attracts a fantastically diverse range of candidates; Anupam’s cohort consisted of 56 people from 25 different countries (average age 42), providing tremendous opportunities for cross-cultural learning.

But finishing the programme isn’t the end of the story. “Volunteering is about putting yourself in the shoes of the person on the receiving end – it could be you as an alumnus, a student or a prospective student – how did you get the most out of your LBS experience? One of the things that helped you was the alumni who weren’t being paid for it. So now, how would you like to help?”

Think of it as a worthwhile investment in your own future, Anupam says. “If you’re volunteering, you’re actively involved with the School; your network is continuously being kept up to date and you may also be refreshing your own learning. You may be attending talks, or teaching. It gives you satisfaction and value. It helps you as you move forward.” A win-win, in other words.