How can a reconnection today transform your tomorrow?

5 minute read 14 Apr 2022

A trusted alumni network can keep you ahead of talent pressures by gaining recruitment and career support from likeminded professionals.

Three questions to ask
  • How can an alumni network support your talent strategy?
  • Can leveraging an alumni community lead to recruitment cost efficiencies?
  • How can a professional network help build your career?

The Great Resignation is showing no signs of slowing down. More than 43% of the global workforce say they are likely to hand in their notice in the next 12 months, with three out of four full-time employees in the US planning to quit their job this year.1

In this kind of environment, it is no surprise that finding and retaining talent remains a top priority for companies around the world.  The EY CEO Imperative Study found that 68% of CEOs identified employee issues such as talent needs, organizational change and culture as the number one driver of transformation in their company.

At the same time, employees are becoming more empowered to build a career that works for them, prioritizing flexibility and a sense of purpose. Rather than a job for life, they are looking for life-long learning and are more willing to change jobs to find the right fit. In fact, according to the EY 2022 Work Reimagined Survey, 82% of employees want to work two plus days remotely per week and will search out opportunities to find that flexibility.

In this changing environment, businesses and employees can harness trusted networks, such as their alumni network, to help them keep a pulse on the job market or foster career development. 

An untapped talent pool

An alumni network is a goldmine of talent and a useful starting point when considering new hires or a career move. Making an approach to someone you have previously worked with, or who comes recommended, can provide the trust and understanding that is crucial to making the right recruitment decisions.

Membership of a respected alumni group can also be a stamp of approval. EY alumnus, Martin Vergara, left the firm 15 years ago but remains connected with the alumni network. “I find it super helpful to have a reference point with likeminded people. I know that EY people are strong, capable and smart – they’re always learning and understand critical thinking.” Like many, Martin is more inclined to want to work with people who he knows have received the kind of training and career experience that would make them good colleagues.

EY Alumni Survey 2021


would refer a friend or colleague to EY.

Alumni members can also serve as brand ambassadors for the companies they worked at, providing a wealth of referrals. The EY 2021 Global Alumni Survey revealed that 84% would refer a colleague, 70% would recommend the EY organization as a place to work and 31% would consider returning themselves.

Benefits of return hires

There is a significant advantage to welcoming back talent who have left your company but remained in touch through an alumni program or personal contacts.

Trent Henry, EY Global Vice Chair of Talent, says “our alumni understand our business, our clients and company values. Each year, around 15% of our external hires are from our alumni community.” Having been tried and tested, they can bring not only their past experience, but new skills and perspectives.

There are huge cost efficiencies to be considered when recruiting alumni: an expedited hiring process, time saved on onboarding and training, as well as greater potential for the employee to get up to speed quickly and be effective in the role. They could even end up running the company, like Mark Weinberger, Former EY Global Chairman and CEO. Mark left the EY organization three times in his career before eventually coming back to head up the business, retiring in 2019. 

Our alumni understand our business, our clients and company values. Each year, around 15% of our external hires are from our alumni community.
Trent Henry
EY Global Vice Chair of Talent

The benefits go both ways. Tom Lardner, an alumnus from EY New York, left the firm in 1997 and while his focus shifted, his ties to the organization remained. He recalls, "I went to an alumni event and one of the EY attendees that evening was a personal mentor. That reconnection led to follow-up conversations about my current career, future ambitions and possible opportunities, and ultimately resulted in my return to EY." After changing careers during his time away from EY, Tom had the opportunity to re-join within a brand-new business unit, and to grow right along with it. Twenty-one years later and counting, Tom is still gaining new experiences. "The chance to play a role in helping to drive business growth in an environment built on trust has been a gift, one that is foundational to my career."

Career growth

The pandemic has caused people to reassess their career goals as well as their work-life balance. An alumni network provides a rich source of contacts, support and mentorship that can help people navigate these changes. There are over one million members in the EY alumni network, many of whom say they are happy for other alumni to reach out to them for advice, introductions and support in their careers.

Alumnus Cameron Fleming left the EY organization to start his own medical supply business. He remembers how the Partners encouraged him to take the leap into entrepreneurship, and still mentor him now: “They're just so supportive. They still to this day will try to introduce me to people or have suggestions.” The network is also an important knowledge pool, where members can exchange information and experiences, keep on top of industry trends and improve their skillsets.

For alumnus Debra von Sturch, retiring after 38 years at EY was not the end of her career development. She wanted to continue to use her skills and have “intellectual stimulation and people engagement.” As a result, Debra joined three boards and loves keeping her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the industry and knowing who to contact if she has a question. She recently went to an alumnus partner dinner and said “it was a joy to see other retired Partners and exchange ideas on what we were doing.” Attending the EY Strategic Growth Forum also enabled her to “see her old ecosystem” and keep those relationships alive.


“As businesses around the world reimagine their workforces, sustaining a strong, connected community of prior, current and prospective employees should be at the forefront of the talent agenda” states EY EMEIA Workforce Advisory Leader Michael Thompson. “As we deliver on our promise of an exceptional employee experience for EY, we also help our clients to remain distinctive through their employee value propositions. Putting people at the center of your strategy will transform your results.”  

Active networking is a vital component of career development, as well as a source of support in dealing with the challenges of the Great Resignation. Whatever your current challenge, whether it is seeking advice on a new job opportunity, needing an introduction, finding the perfect person for a new role, or simply building relationships with people you value, reconnecting with someone from a trusted network could take you somewhere special.

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The world of work has undergone tremendous change, as more and more individuals seek a meaningful experience. Employees are looking to trusted contacts and sources to help them navigate their next move, while employers are adapting their working models to attract the best talent. Being part of an active alumni network provides a ready pool of likeminded people that could prove to be your best antidote to the Great Resignation. 

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