Emma Sinclair
Co-Founder & CEO EnterpriseAlumni Follow Follow

Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 276. Today we’ll be talking to Emma from EnterpriseAlumni about the use case or business case for why her customers choose EnterpriseAlumni.

EnterpriseAlumni enables organizations to attract, engage and activate their alumni community.

Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William.

Dover Autopilot Launch RD Inline Banner

Show length: 24 minutes

Enjoy the podcast?

Be sure to check out all our episodes and subscribe through your favorite platform. Of course, comments are always welcome. Thanks for tuning in to this episode of the Use Case Podcast

Announcer:

Welcome to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

 

William Tincup:

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s William Tincup and you are listening to the Use Case podcast. Today, we have Emma on from EnterpriseAlumni. We’ll be talking about the business case or use case for why her prospects and customers choose EnterpriseAlumni, EA for short. Emma, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and EnterpriseAlumni?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Of course. Thank you.

 

William Tincup:

Sure.

 

Emma Sinclair:

So indeed, I’m Emma Sinclair. I am the CEO and founder of EnterpriseAlumni. Our company powers the alumni networks of large corporate communities to help them to maintain and maximize a connection with people who’ve left for boomerang hires, for employer branding, and for new business and sales. I’d say within that, that’s all the ROI and all the things we’ll dig into today, but I really believe that corporate community done well is a superpower. So that’s what we really try and enable our customers to do.

 

William Tincup:

We’ve talked about this in the past. We’ve talked about candidate experience and we’ve been talking about that for 15 years, so that’s cool. Most recently, we’re talking about EX, a lot of employee experience-related stuff, probably stemming from some employee engagement-related stuff, but we don’t really talk about alumni experience.

 

Emma Sinclair:

No, we don’t.

 

William Tincup:

Why is that?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Well, I do and a handful of people here do. I think it’s an evolution and things happen faster in companies like mine than in large enterprises. I always say it takes a decade for anything that anyone talks about and says they’re going to do to really embed in culture. But you spend all this time and money investing in people, sourcing them, recruiting them, upskilling them, mentoring them, making sure that they feel fulfilled in their jobs and can perform well and stay with you and retain them. So after they leave, it’s just a complete waste of money, time, and effort to just say, “Thanks, bye,” especially given people are quite mobile. I think probably though, we’ve got very, very large corporate customers that do this, but it’s probably not prolific because it’s relatively young in the context of HR tech. Citibank have just celebrated 10 years. There are leaders that have been doing alumni for 10, 12, 15 years, but actually, for most companies, it’s five to 10 years absolute maximum they’ve been doing this. So it’s a bit young, to be honest.

 

William Tincup:

Who owns alumni in the organization? We’re dealing with large organizations, so there might be somebody specialized, but in general, if not a specialized person, who owns the alumni network?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Yeah. Tends to be a few different people depending on why they buy it. There are a lot of companies these days that have alumni managers and alumni teams, often big teams of people. I say the companies that have big alumni teams, it generally sits in marketing and it’s generally under the CMO. That’s typical of the really established programs. Sometimes under the chief revenue officer, because of course, it does lend itself to new business, but often the CMO because this is a big channel of people you should be communicating with. The other very large group is under the head of talent, CHRO, head of employer engagement, employer branding, and that’s predominantly because alumni are an enormous source of recruits. Some of our customers hire up to 20% of their annual hires from alumni.

 

William Tincup:

So that’s what we would say employee referrals, now it’s alumni referrals.

 

Emma Sinclair:

Where it’s alumni coming back, it’s boomerang hires.

 

William Tincup:

Right.

 

Emma Sinclair:

It’s people who left the company and may have gone on to learn something new and they’re like, “Do you know what? I know that company. I know what it stands for. I know where the restroom is. I know the nuances of its culture. I know the good and the bad.” And for alumni, it’s often quite easy to say, “Do you know what? I’m going to come back. I had a great time there,” or “There’s really interesting things that have happened since I left,” or “Here’s a great opportunity for me. I’ve gone away. I’ve learned some new skills and I get to return in an elevated position.”

Obviously also for companies, this is a really compelling way to hire people because the chances are, as I said, they know your company. They know the ins and the outs of it. They know the culture. They probably know someone there they can talk to unofficially. So in the way that we often spend a lot of time making sure that we don’t want to make bad hires, alumni are actually a super high-quality hire because they know your business, they know what you’re about, and they’re more likely to be a really strong cultural fit.

 

William Tincup:

Yeah. I love that part and I love that you started there. Today, do you see with some of your customers, if not them coming back, that they also refer talent to HR and recruiting?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Yeah, and there’s a couple of types of references and referrals that happen. On the one hand, you’ve got people who really know the business and know what the culture’s like, so they can recommend the right person. A lot of our customers have, through an alumni network, you can absolutely refer people and then that goes straight through to an ATS system and an HR system and sets off an alarm that somebody who knows you really well has someone that they suggest you might want to meet. The other type of referrals is almost a bit more informal, and that is a lot of companies, especially retail-facing companies, consumer-facing companies want to encourage as many people as possible to come and work for them in a multi-generational sense. For example, we’re a US-based business despite my accent, but we’ve got customers all over the world. Marks & Spencer, they call it the M&S family.

They already have a workforce that’s multigenerational. Perhaps a mother or a father used to work there, a brother or a sister used to work there. A child might work there, a teenager whilst they’re studying. They really want to emphasize to all of their alumni and indeed their staff to suggest that their family come and work there. So it’s not just actually straightforward referrals of this is a really great role for you, X, Y, Z, it’s also tell your friends and family we’d really like to have them for [inaudible 00:06:20] our customers. That’s lovely. As a human being, that really resonates with me.

 

William Tincup:

100%. When we started, you went to boomerang, employer branding, and sales, kind of a three-legged stool. There’s probably other legs to that stool as well. Take the audience into what, not a client or anything like that, but what an experience looks like. Because in my mind, I’m imagining content, maybe even some level of personalization, but what do we put in front of the alumni to capture their attention?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Well, I think I would say very broadly speaking, people do want to stay in touch with you. Sometimes it’s because they had a great time. Sometimes they didn’t have a great time, but maybe you are an airline and you offer your alumni a 25% discount on flight. So there’s different reasons people stay in touch. Even if you didn’t have the best time, if it’s your domestic airline and they’re offering you a 25% discount to stay in touch, you’ll probably do that. I think the experience does depend on what somebody wants from the network. I’d say the hooks, the things that really interest people are not necessarily the corporate news, with the greatest of respect.

 

William Tincup:

Right.

 

Emma Sinclair:

With the greatest of respect, and I’m sure any comms person would acknowledge this, there’s just only so much corporate news is of interest to people that left and it’s relatively limited. But what people are really interested in, as with any element of life, and you’ll know this given what you focus on is they’re really interested in the human stories. For example, if in a monthly or quarterly newsletter, whatever might be produced, things like alumni stories, people who’ve left who’ve either gone on to do something exceptional or interesting, started a charity, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, done something really dynamic, started a business, IPOed. Whatever kind of business it is, you’ve got heroes and heroines who’ve either done something in business or philanthropically or personally to celebrate. Those are, first of all, the absolutely most commonly viewed and most compelling things that people like to see and read. I read alumni stories from most of our customers because they’re really interesting. Sometimes for even the largest companies in the world, it might be a family member.

Swarovski, one of our customers, they have a CEO now, the first time in the family’s history that the CEO is not someone that’s from the family. I’m really interested to read about the last family member who recently left and who spent a lifetime supporting building a brand that, for example, in the case of the last family member that was involved, it was her great-grandfather that built the business. It’s just so interesting to understand the heritage and the story. Or we’ve got customers like [inaudible 00:09:01] Group, which is the largest retailer in North Africa and the Middle East. They have the license for brands like Sephora and household names we’d know. They were started by a family. They were started by somebody that came from nothing and archive stories they have of how the business began, like a market stall essentially, much like Marks & Spencer. How these businesses started are fascinating and speaking to some of the really early people who were involved in the company.

So I think on the one hand, it’s thinking about what is alumni and it’s recognizing that as a company, you’re standing on the shoulders of giants and all the people that have been there before and there’s just all these amazing great stories. I sometimes say, William, probably a bad example, but it’s a bit like People magazine or a magazine at the airport you see on the chair next to you. You’ll have a little flick and have a little read of stuff that you might otherwise not do because you’re just always a little bit curious about who’s dating who or what someone’s wearing on the beach. But that curiosity, that human element is what drives everyone. Then of course, there’s all the things that depend on demographic, the perks, the discounts, the jobs, the referrals, the bonus on doing that. If it’s an investment bank, having access to perhaps some reports or research, but it all comes back to the human connection.

 

William Tincup:

I love the alumni stories, by the way, just because storytelling in general, I think, is compelling for folks, but have any of your customers done employee stories? Meaning, what some of the cruel things that they’re working on, employee stories and then publish that to alumni?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Yeah, in two different ways. One, so that alumni can understand that good or bad, the company is not going to be exactly the same as the day they left. You leave a big company and your memory ends there. This is the company I was at. So certainly, that is definitely the case because you want people that left one, five, 10, 20 years ago and say, “Oh, that’s really different. That’s really interesting.” Things that give a sense of the changes to the business that people might be interested in is the first thing. The second thing very often that companies share is they will share boomerang stories, so people who left and have come back because they want to let people know that even if you left, unless it was really on bad terms, we’d really love to hear from you again because we’re in the midst, as we all know, of a talent crisis.

If you can get 5% of your hires from a channel you hadn’t previously tapped, who are likely to be high-quality candidates, that’s interesting. William, I can give you a statistic. On our networks, our customers hire up to 20% of their annual hires from alumni, which in itself is interesting, but the thing digging into that that I was going to refer to is up to 25% of people on a network apply for a job and up to 40% of those people are successful. Essentially, what does that actually mean? It means alumni are really high-quality candidates because of those who apply, 40% get the job and this is in very large enterprises. We’re talking about tens and hundreds of thousands of jobs. For those that are listening that hadn’t thought about it, it’s just we spend all this time on employee experience, customer experience. I always think of alumni as both and it’s a channel that obviously, my life is alumni, but it feels wrong to ignore for all those reasons.

 

William Tincup:

Last thing on content, is there anything to values or DI or social injustice, things that might have change again? Structurally, I think, if the company has changed, eliminated a division and started a new division, R&D, all that stuff makes sense to me, but is there any of the softer stuff that maybe it is at front page news, would that be interested to alumni?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Yes. It depends who’s asking, but some of my favorite things about D&I are when I used to work in a bank when I started my career, I was part of the women in banking group. When I left, regardless of my view of that employer, I felt very attached to the women and the women in banking group. When I left, I had to leave it. First of all, in terms of alumni, it’s an opportunity to extend your employee resource groups into the alumni network. If you are really trying to build out your D&I and you’re focusing on women in STEM or women in banking or whatever group it is, this is, why not maintain that relationship with people after they leave because it’s something that they genuinely care about? The first D&I way is, how brilliant if you have an LGBTQ group, to have three times the people in it because after people leave, they can stay part of that?

Then I guess there’s also things like when people leave, they go into the military. If they’re carers, if they got maternity leave, there are some candidates that are more likely to stay in touch with a company and there are some that are less likely. The ones that are less likely are the ones that maybe don’t necessarily fit the mold of the type of person that applies, but that companies really want to reach out to. I always think of alumni as a very passive group of people that you can turn into active ambassadors, active candidates, and that pool of people in particular. If you leave and go to the army or you leave and become a carer or you become a parent and you are a mother or a father that takes 10 years off, it can be hard to get back into workforce and maybe you’ve lost touch with people you used to work with. This is an easier segue in because they’re saying, “You used to work for us, we’d love to hear from you.”

It’s a much softer, warmer cuddle for people who might otherwise be intimidated about applying for jobs elsewhere and think that they don’t necessarily have the experience or skills because they have a gap from work.

 

William Tincup:

Right. I could see that with a lot of working parents, men or women that take off after a new child and maybe take off for a couple of years and then being disconnected or feel disconnected. But if they’re getting weekly or monthly emails, they feel still attached. They feel like, okay, I’m still in the know. So I can see that. What do we need to be integrated with? What is EA? Because you play upstream enterprise, global enterprise, what is the leg bone connected to the hip bone? What does this need to be connected to?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Well, yeah, the leg bone and the hip bone, it was being part of the whole journey. It’s like we can’t be sitting in a silo and we really mean it. Generally speaking, I’d say alumni networks go live without integrations because corporates have a big process, big teams, big IT backlog, and you can go live and get cracking because people are leaving every day and churning every day, so why not start immediately? But the journey, William, is essentially one where potentially, you integrate with an HR system, ATS system so that when people offboard, they’re immediately invited onto the alumni network, an ATS system so you really can capture all the candidate experience and people applying for jobs or for referrals. I’d say a second big pillar as you’d obviously expect is with CRM systems.

So whatever it might be, the Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, the likes of those we can integrate with. That allows people to keep this as source of truth that they work very hard to create inside their business, so records and information and just it’s additive where people can see, “Oh, okay, we have a prospect. Here’s a large enterprise. Do we know anyone there? Okay, we know 11 alumni that are there. What net promoter score did those alumni give us? Oh, three of them gave us a nine or a 10 out of 10. We should definitely leverage those people as ambassadors or advocates or speak to them and start with them as people we should be engaging as part of the sales process.”

So those are the two really big pillars. Then all the really easy quick things, socials, marketing tools, [inaudible 00:17:03], you name it. So I say that we are a technology company that do alumni because that’s our bread and butter. The dream for me and for all of our customers when I talk to new customers is actually, alumni should be part of onboarding. It’s a day people are most excited. Get them through their whole working life cycle with you. Don’t let them drop off at the end. The way people leave is often not good enough and it’s just such an own goal. So the dream is onboarding and offboarding and such like.

 

William Tincup:

It’s interesting because Oxford or Cambridge or Harvard or Stanford or wherever, London School of Economics, they’ve done this well for a long time. You go in, when you apply, you already know the alumni network that you’re applying. That’s part of it. The college experience, the university experiences is also, I’m going to graduate and be a part of something much larger. I’ll get a degree. I’ll learn some stuff, but I’ll also be a part of something much larger, which I think companies can, if they think like that, they can use a lot of that mentality. I love that you pulled a day all the way into onboarding because I think it goes even further into marketing jobs and into job descriptions and employer branding on the front end in career sites. It’s like this isn’t just a job. Yes, great, you need to be competent and apply the job, but also, you’ll be joining this company and this network. Anyhow.

 

Emma Sinclair:

Let me tell you something, William, on something you just said,-

 

William Tincup:

Sure.

 

Emma Sinclair:

… an interesting stat. Visitors to alumni sites, obviously, it’s people who are signing up and a variety of that similar commensurate people, but the quantum of visitors to alumni sites who are candidates considering whether to work, have an employer is often 50% to 60% if not more of our customers’ visits. Because people are saying, okay, you can understand, especially for large, as you said, upstream enterprise clients, they’re often listed, they’re large companies, their websites need to be fairly vanilla for all the right reasons, but where else can you maybe get a sense of what it’s like to work at a company? Will they care about me through my whole working life cycle? Just other more human elements to that. And alumni is the next page, the next place that they go for that because it’s like, okay, you’ve got an alumni network. You care about me through my whole working life cycle. You’re celebrating people that used to work there. Rightly or wrongly, whether it is or isn’t depending on the company involved, it’s really integral to your employer culture.

So actually, there are so many ways it’s relevant, but the quantum of visitors, especially for companies that are very large recruiters in universities and of young people, often gets as high as 75% of people that are visiting are just trying to understand the company culture. So interesting snippet for you.

 

William Tincup:

A few quick things. One is folks that are listening, I’m sure if they haven’t started down this path and they’ve been fighting other fires, let’s just leave it at that, and they haven’t started, where do they start? What’s the, okay, step one? What is that for them?

 

Emma Sinclair:

Well, there are different things that make an alumni program successful. I always has to start somewhere, but a senior sponsor is a really important metric and tick box for success, because if something has advocacy from the right level, everyone takes it seriously. I’d say a few things to remember, but I don’t see them that much these days. No one has any interest in signing up for a website. We are all consumers. We all do shopping. Everything we do is online. We have to remember, if you are deciding to start a process of engaging with people, don’t expect them to engage with a one-dimensional, very generic newsletter. Don’t expect them to sign up on a website that just is a little bit not the UX experience that you have when you are signing up to do your shopping on a big US retailer or international retailer. Get your goals locked down. Why are we doing this?

It’s not hard to start because you have churn every single day. And getting started, like everything in life, in my view, William, starting a business in fact is just bite-size chunks. So I think find a senior sponsor, get a bit of budget together and recognize… Long gone are the day that you can do this on a spreadsheet. A CRM is a good start, but just sending one outward-bound generic email is typically going to get deleted by people after the first or second time they receive it because it’s probably not going to have anything that’s interesting for them in there. And look around. There’s a burgeoning world of corporate alumni and there’s a burgeoning world of a need for boomerang hires over the last couple of years, especially since COVID. There’s a common goal to have everybody you know in the right place online, again, accelerated by COVID.

So have a look at what your peers are doing. Obviously, as you can imagine, we’ve got loads of resources on our website, but find a senior sponsor and find a use case and a reason to do this. It might be business development. It might be boomerang hires, or it might, William, be that it’s the right thing to do, which increasingly is becoming a reason.

 

William Tincup:

Right. Last question. When you first show EnterpriseAlumni to someone, what’s your favorite part of the demo? What’s the aha market and aha moment for the person looking at EA?

 

Emma Sinclair:

I think probably data and analytics because Google, those are great tools, embedding it in people’s systems, but you can’t really own the data and drill down, and just suddenly seeing what you can own and understand about people. It’s post-employee engagement. People tell you what they want to tell you.

 

William Tincup:

Oh, cool.

 

Emma Sinclair:

But I’d say that moment of where you can measure things and where you can really see your… I’ll be honest, I love the heat map. I love to just see a pretty map where you can see where everybody in the world is and customers go, “Oh, this is where everybody is based” or “Wow, I had no idea we had loads of people in [inaudible 00:23:23].” Yeah, things like that, obviously, anecdotally, I really love, but the data and analytics where people are like, “Okay, we can understand this level of detail,” I think people maybe expect a lot from all their HR systems and systems that manage people.

Then that very, very last step, that post-employer engagement, for those that hadn’t really thought about this or done this is something that no one really… Quite often, we get people saying, “Oh, how do we not know about this?” and “How do we not know about you?” and well-kept secrets. I’m like, well. So I think it’s that element of it’s actually something that you can do well and easily in the same way that you do things at scale with other stages of your journey.

 

William Tincup:

I love it.

 

Emma Sinclair:

Don’t tell anyone, but the heat map, there’s all my engineers. They spend all this time doing really clever stuff, but often it’s that.

 

William Tincup:

Emma used a phrase that might not be familiar to some of the American audience. Own goal in football, that is when you score on your own team. It’s kind of a self-inflicted wound. So that’s-

 

Emma Sinclair:

You don’t have that there?

 

William Tincup:

Well, we-

 

Emma Sinclair:

No one talks about it.

 

William Tincup:

No one talks about it in that way, but I wanted to make sure that they understood what you meant. Emma, thank you so much for your time. This has been fantastic.

 

Emma Sinclair:

Lovely to speak to you, William. Thank you for having me join you.

 

William Tincup:

Absolutely. Thanks to everyone listening to the Use Case podcast. Until next time.

 

Announcer:

You’ve been listening to RecruitingDaily’s Use Case podcast. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite platform and hit us up at recruitingdaily.com.

The Use Case Podcast

Authors
William Tincup

William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.


Discussion

Please log in to post comments.

Login