Sujatha Shenoy, ‘04
“Brain food.” That’s the phrase that hooked me when I first talked to Judy Maley and Gayle Haller about BANC. I was interviewing for the pilot project, a test case for how BANC would be received by alumni and by the nonprofit community. After a career as a foreign correspondent, a marketing consultant and a brand strategist, I was a stay-at-home mom with young twins. The idea of using my Booth skills, meeting other alumni and helping local nonprofits was irresistible.
Here’s the secret though. I wasn’t just helping the nonprofits. I was helping my future self too. I am currently in the process of launching a new business, hivve.world, a curated look at virtual events worldwide. BANC was the first step that brought me back into the world of business.
Booth is one of a few business schools that is trying to help alumni who stepped off the career path with a relaunch program. BANC is a rare program that actively advertises that it welcomes applications from alumni at all stages in their lives – those working full time or part time, those between jobs, those who are retired and those who are stay at home parents.
The result is an interesting mix of alumni with a common desire to give the very best to the client. Our client on the pilot project was the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC). The project was fascinating, requiring us to quickly understand and segment the customer base and provide specific recommendations. We were a group of strangers on the team, connected by our experience as Booth alumni. Over the course of more than six months, we bonded over our diverse backgrounds and worked well together to deliver an extremely well received report.
I was picked for the project because my background in brand strategy, marketing and reporting was a good fit for the client’s needs. As I contributed, I also learned from my teammates – fresh ways to craft surveys and analyze data, to present our findings on paper and in person, and the subtle skill of getting everyone on the same page in a cordial manner. It reminded me of the give and take of group projects on campus.
I continue to volunteer with BANC as a member of the steering committee. As I met more BANC volunteers, I realized that I was not the only one who benefited from participating in a BANC project. BANC fulfills a need for connections, to give back and to grow in confidence. Here’s the data to prove it: Despite everything that we all juggle, as many as 25% percent of BANC alums re-up for another project. Several serve on boards of nonprofits.
As an entrepreneur, I have a lot on my plate every day now. And it all started with Judy, Gayle, and the promise of brain food at BANC.