On behalf of the Johnson Club of Seattle, Club President Pam Spier ’05, MBA ’11, receives the Henry P. Renard ’54, MBA ’55 Regional Club of the Year Award
Pam Spier ’05, MBA ’11, connected with Johnson alumni in Seattle even before she moved there to do her summer internship at Amazon in 2010. As a participant on the High Tech Club student trek to Seattle she attended a happy hour for Johnson students and alumni and was struck by the welcoming, warm, and vibrant community, and even met an alumna who has since become one of her closest friends — Yvonne Chou, MBA ’07. At Amazon, Peter Larson, MBA ’96, then director of digital and now VP of Kindle at Amazon, read her internship report, facilitated introductions, and mentored her.
“It was an amazing summer,” says Spier, who is now a manager and marketing strategy consultant at Lenati LLC, the company she joined right after graduation.
Spier’s own great experience and warm welcome from Johnson alumni in Seattle inspired her to take on the leadership of the Johnson Club of Seattle. “I want to make sure Johnson students feel welcome and have an experience similar to mine,” she says. “Because I’ve been helped out a lot, I want to help them get set up for success. I tell them to look at my LinkedIn, I ask what they are looking for and who they want to meet. I want them to feel a part of this community.”
The Johnson Club of Seattle, re-energized under Spier’s leadership, has strengthened its alumni engagement by organizing educational programming featuring Johnson faculty and corporate speakers, and involving prospective and current students as well as alumni. “With just under 250 Johnson alumni in the Seattle region, the club has successfully engaged close to thirty percent of the alumni population by offering outstanding, diverse programming,” said Tara Taylor, director of Alumni Affairs. One hundred people registered for the club’s Predictions Dinner this year, and about 95 attended.
Spier attributes this success to the dovetailing of several key factors:
The participation of Dean Soumitra Dutta, who was a huge draw both when he came to Seattle for a dinner in early 2013 and also for the club’s first Predictions Dinner in 2014.
Guidance and coordination from Johnson’s Alumni Affairs staff in selecting a venue and getting on Dean Dutta’s calendar.
The support of key alumni in Seattle, including Johnson Advisory Council member Bill McAleer ’73, MBA ’75, co-founder and managing director of Voyager Capital, and Amazon’s Larsen, who spoke at the club’s first Predictions Dinner this year.
A concentrated grassroots effort to engage alumni as well as prospective and current students. Spier has made a regular practice of reaching out personally to alumni in the area, and estimates she has had coffee with 30 to 40 of them. She emails all of them to attend events, and selects company liaisons, asking them to forward the email invitation to all the alumni in their company. She also asks alumni who say they will attend to email their classmates. “People are more likely to come if their friends are coming!” she says. In addition, Spier started a club LinkedIn group to reach people from another angle.
Among goals for the club’s future, Spier looks forward to getting more alumni involved in leadership, and is delighted that one Cornell-Queen’s Executive MBA student has already told her he will ratchet up his involvement after graduation. Planning more and smaller events is another goal, since “Seattle is so spread out,” she says. She’d also like to see more social events that are fun and entertaining — a wine-tasting event, or an event featuring Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Bryan Walters ’10, for example. “We’re in the brainstorming phase,” says Spier.
Spier is a clear advocate not only for connecting members of the Johnson community in Seattle, but also for drawing more to Seattle, a place she loves and wants to share both for the quality of life (“I love the water and the mountains and it really doesn’t rain all the time!”) and for the opportunity it offers. “There are so many job opportunities here,” she says, naming Amazon, Microsoft, and T-Mobile for starters. “I would love to draw more Johnson alumni here. That’s a reason I’ve been pushing hard with the club and pushing people to up their recruitment efforts: so we can bring more alumni here. The more alumni we have here, the more students will want to come out here to work. If we could have 100 alumni at Amazon, they will want to hire more alumni. I’m trying to inspire more of that.”