by William Hedgepeth
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Six Degrees of Separation (cont.)
With roughly nine thousand diverse and internationally oriented Goizueta alumni living and working around the world, there is always someone available to offer advice on almost any industry or part of the world.
"I think alumni truly feel that they have a vested interest in the school, and the success of the school will depend on how current students feel they are being placed," says Chip Wilkerson '95MBA, a global brand manager for Saab in Sweden. "Helping the reputation of the school is only going to help all of us."
Class size helps
The relatively small size of Goizueta classes is a boon to networking between teachers and students. Goizueta faculty members are more likely to know something about each student's skills and career interests than at larger schools.
Associate Dean Jeffrey Rosensweig cites schools such as Yale University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology-places he has taught-as too large for the kind of teacher-student relationships common at Goizueta.
"Despite our international reputation, we still have fewer than two hundred MBAs in a given year, and so many of the professors here know and teach every single one during their time here," Rosensweig says.
"Networking isn't really our job. We are here to be teachers and researchers. But as a teacher I want my students to grow, and if I can get them to meet people who will be role models or inspirations to them, then that fills my primary vocation."
In many of his classes, those inspiring figures are well-known businesspeople such as investor Warren Buffett and world figures such as Jimmy Carter. As associate dean of corporate relations, it is Rosensweig's job to cultivate business executives, but "if you just want to bring in a CEO so you can hand him your students' resumes, they can smell that a mile away.
"We bring in CEOs only if they have something to teach our students. We do our homework first. We know what they have done specifically, what their hot button is. We don't see it as networking, which is probably why it works better at Goizueta than anywhere else," says Rosensweig.
Goizueta is known for the quality of speakers on campus. "I think everyone knows there is no school that has as many CEOs and presidents and prime ministers in its network," Rosensweig notes proudly. "Our fear is that students have so many opportunities that they don't get to the library."
The relationships begun in the Goizueta classroom don't end at graduation. On a recent day, Rosensweig received a call from an alumnus now living in Sri Lanka and caught in the middle of a civil war. She was looking for an exit.
"So I put her in touch with three or four CEOs. Luckily she was a good student. Whenever alums call me five years later-maybe their company has been bought or downsized-they always start by saying, 'You probably don't remember me,' but I do. We don't forget our alumni," he says.
Student-faculty relationships sometimes directly result in jobs, particularly in classes taught by experts from the business community.
The technology sector, particularly in Atlanta, has been the scene of some of the most furious Goizueta networking. Martin says that knowing Smith and his background was an advantage.
"In a start-up it is important, culturally, that you know people well. It makes the decision-making easier. We believe Goizueta is the best place to look for executive management-particularly in technology-because of the business focus of the program," Martin says.
He contends that there is a substantive difference between the kind of networking possible at school and networking in the workplace.
"In an educational environment you get a much more comprehensive look at the raw intellectual power than you do in a corporate environment," he says. As AgentWare has grown, Martin and Ottolenghi have tapped two other Goizueta classmates, Doug Chait '94MBA and Ethan Ravage '94MBA.
In general, the technology sector is particularly relationship intensive, notes Trevor Allen '99BBA, who works for iXL Enterprises in emerging markets business development and found his job in large part thanks to contacts provided by an adjunct professor, one of those valuable speakers from the business community.
"Who you know counts for everything. Everything is linked to technology eventually, and there is too much technology for any single person to keep up with and understand," says Allen. "Therefore, who you know becomes all important in this environment. If you have the technology, and I trust you when you tell me the technology can do something, then I can pass you on to somebody else who trusts me."
A classroom feature Allen used for networking purposes was the directed study for an outside company.
"Say someone comes to class from a start-up. You go up to them and pitch them an idea for a directed study. You don't get paid, but you get credit and experience of having done the work. Then you get to meet all the CEO's contacts," he says.