Spotlight on volunteers: Payal Patel
“I believe in karma. What you put out in the world you get back”
Payal Patel MBA2012 likes connecting the dots. “I see the world as a puzzle to be solved; people are just the jigsaw pieces.” That’s why she loves building relationships, she says. Since business school Payal has worked in business development roles in professional services firms. She also volunteers her time heading up London Business School (LBS)’s Houston Alumni Club, acting as the MBA2012 class chair and spearheading Reunion 2017 for her class in London.
After graduating from Texas A&M University with a masters in finance and BBA in accounting, Payal was honoured with the prestigious Buck Weirus Spirit Award, which recognises students for their outstanding contributions to student life. She says it was during this period that she learnt the value of community and “being part of something greater than yourself”.
“At university, I was predisposed to extra-curricular activities. We called it ‘the other education’ – the idea of going above and beyond in helping your community because it adds richness to your experience.”
It felt natural giving back to LBS, she says. It was just a question of how and when. “LBS was a life-changing experience. It was the place that I met the most interesting people from all over the world: I found my tribe. Because of that, I want to be a positive community member.”
In 2012, while running her class gift campaign, Payal joined the Houston Alumni Club. When she discovered that the club’s president lived 225 miles away from Houston in Dallas, she decided to step up. “Since then, she’s reinvigorated the club,” says Nat Holtham in the LBS Alumni Relations team.
It’s not about time, it’s about connections
“I had some great advice from another LBS graduate, Dan Carter [EMBAG2007], who runs the Columbia Business School Houston alumni club. He told me that energising a network doesn’t take tons of energy; it takes a consistent nudge.” This freed Payal up to concentrate less on making lots of things happen and more on her specialism: connecting people.
Payal and Dan are also working together to enhance the two communities by pooling resources on initiatives and opening events up to both business schools’ networks.
How, then, does Payal manage her time? “I’m only human! 2016 was a challenging year for me. My time was stretched so I set up a club committee to help out.” Now she’s focused on ensuring her team gets something out of volunteering, too.
“I believe in karma. What you put out in the world you get back. I’ve met lots of smart, interesting people as a club leader. Volunteering opens doors. I want to make sure that the committee reps’ interests are satisfied. For example, if they’re interested in the real estate industry and we put on a real estate event, it gives them a credible reason to meet new people in that industry.”
Connections like these reach far and wide. Payal points to Colonel Tim Kopra EMBAG2013, who was part of the International Space Mission in 2015. “Tim is based in Houston. So it was perfect to share his news with the club.
“It's fascinating for someone to go to business school and then go on to do amazing research in space as an astronaut. That’s the thing about LBS; you meet people from all over the world – all these smart people doing different things.”
Now, Payal’s looking forward to joining the dots and meeting Tim on home turf sometime soon.