Written by Global Ambassador, Pablo Romero Yusta, Master of International Marketing, class of 2016, San Francisco campus.

This year I was kindly selected to attend the Global Alumni Summit as a class of 2016 representative. I was thrilled to be invited, as I was intrigued to learn about our growing alumni community. The two-day event, which took place in San Francisco, boasted an impressive roster of global speakers and gave an insight into what we, as current students, can look forward to when we graduate.

The 2016 Global Alumni Summit marked the 5th alumni summit, and was centered on the theme of “Bridging Global Perspectives,” with an emphasis on disruptive thinking. Therefore, it was perfectly fitting to host the this year’s summit in one of the world’s capitals of research and innovation: San Francisco.

More than 100 alumni from over 30 different countries gathered to hear from 10 globally-renowned speakers, participate in interactive workshops led by guest professors, and participate in alumni panel discussions.

Here are the summit highlights.

The Summit Kickoff: Day 1

Katharine Boshkoff, Global Vice President of Career Development & Alumni Relations, kicked off the weekend with a warm welcome and thank you to the attending alumni. She seized the opportunity to encourage alumni to stay involved and visible in the Hult community by joining Hult Connect and the Alumni Mentorship Program:

When you graduate from Hult, you leave with more than just a degree. This unique student experience does not stop after graduation, since Hult provides the tools and resources to keep you engaged. Stay connected to your peers, professors, and colleagues and you will have access to a global network that provides an array of opportunities.”

Disruptive Innovation with Andrew Grill

After Katharine’s welcome, Andrew Grill, Global Managing Partner in Social Consulting at IBM opened the summit with what companies need to know to stay ahead of the digital curve. His presentation—“Disrupt or be Disrupted”—had the audience engaged.

Grill said, “Digital disruption is not just around the corner. Every industry is being disrupted by digital technologies and new business models…companies need to act now.” He also urged companies to infuse their business models with digital, and placed a significant emphasis on affirming that “digital disruption should not be seen as a threat, but as an opportunity to transform companies and make them more efficient.”

Disruptive Innovation- Andrew Grill

Philanthropy as a Necessary Component of an Organization’s DNA, with Ebony Frelix

Next up was an inspirational talk by Ebony Frelix, Senior Vice President, Philanthropy & Engagement at Salesforce. Frelix emphasized that companies must help build sustainable communities around the world, and asserted that young professionals are becoming increasingly committed to this cause.

“Employees want to have an added value and volunteer. Companies have to provide vehicles for employees to have these experiences and give back to the world.” Frelix also described the “1-1-1 model” Salesforce created with the aim of improving the state of the world: “We call this integrated philanthropic approach the 1-1-1 model because it started with a commitment to leverage 1% of Salesforce’s technology, people, and resources to improve communities around the world.”

This formula framework was particularly well-received by alumni who voiced their renewed sense of commitment to give back to their community.

Ebony Frelix presenting on Philanthropy as part of the DNA

Making the World a Better Place with Team Musana

The three Master of Social Entrepreneurship students from the San Francisco campus presented their $1million idea to the attending alumni in preparation for this September’s Hult Prize Global Final in New York. Team Musana is in pursuit of improving the lives of millions of people, through distributing solar-powered Musana Carts that seek to deliver more efficient infrastructure to street vendors. In January the team piloted their model in Kampala, Uganda and have already raised 110% of their funding targets.

Having only presented to a large audience twice, Musana seized the opportunity to gather constructive feedback. “We knew that the alumni would be a challenging audience…We received good advice on how we can better tailor our pitch and figures. Alumni had encouraging words and mentioned that they were impressed by the work we have done in only few months,” said team member Manon Lavaud.

Moving Closer Towards the Internet of Things with Timothy Chou

The first day of the Summit came to an end with a fabulous talk by Timothy Chou, Stanford Professor and former CEO of Oracle On Demand, titled “Toward a precision planet”. Chou, acknowledged as a pioneer in cloud computing, shared his thoughts and made participants reflect on how software technology can change the planet we live on by being able to deliver common things such as precision farming, healthcare, power or water. As Chou affirmed, “technology is going to keep impacting every day, building things we have never seen before. For the first time, those of us in software, might not only change the virtual world, but also the physical world, transitioning from the Internet of people to the Internet of things”.

Timothy Chou, Stanford Professor and former CEO of Oracle On Demand, presenting on “Toward a precision planet”

Changing Outlooks on Leadership: Day 2

How to Build a Great Company, with Chip Conley

The second day of the summit opened with one of the most anticipated presentations of the weekend. The school hosted Chip Conley, Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb, who gave a phenomenal keynote speech: “How Great Companies get their Mojo from Maslow.”

Chip Conley, Global Head of Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb, presenting a keynote speech on “How Great Companies get their Mojo from Maslow”

Using Maslow as his inspiration, the founder of Joie De Vivre Hospitality – California’s largest boutique hotel company, provided alumni with many inspiring ideas and first-hand experiences on how to instill a culture of recognition in companies and create happy and passionate work environments. Conley shared his perspective on how this approach help attract and engage the top talent in any company, develop a loyal customer base and help build a sustainable and profitable business”.

The journey ended with a Master Class given by Hult Professor Ted Ladd titled “5 Ways to Win in a Sharing Economy”, followed by different workshops led by former students.

The Summit’s Conclusion: The Skyline Awards Celebration

The unforgettable Skyline Awards celebration was held at The View Lounge at the Marriott Marquis. The closing reception allowed attendees to enjoy amazing views of the San Francisco skyline while socializing with Hultian friends, both old and new.

The Hult Alumni Association highlighted the work of Mariam Giorgadze, who was awarded the Most Active Alumna of the Year, as well as Toni Horn, awarded Alumnus of the Year. The Hult San Francisco Alumni Chapter was given special recognition for their contribution to the 2016 Global Alumni Summit.

The Alumni Relations team applauded alumni for their continuous engagement, and announced London as the location for the 2017 Global Alumni Summit.

Congratulations to this year’s winners of the Hult Alumni Awards: Toni Horn and Mariam Giorgadze A special thank you to the San Francisco Alumni Chapter for their contribution to the 2016 Global Alumni Summit.

Final thoughts

The Summit was the perfect opportunity to learn and reconnect. Amongst the executive presentation and workshops there was an electric buzz of new connections being made. I was impressed to hear that Chip Conley was brought to the summit by a Hult alumnus leading the Hult San Francisco Alumni Chapter. Considered a guru in the hospitality sector, it is amazing to see the power of our global alumni network. Equally seeing friends reunite promoted a feeling of community that I look forward to joining. From Dubai to Milan and from risk management to healthcare, conversations gave a snapshot into the diversity of Hult graduates and the industries, regions, and roles they have gone on to excel in.

Alumni Views on the Summit

Several participants shared their thoughts on the 2016 summit:

Alumni summit

Mariam Giorgadzde, Georgia, Master of International Marketing, 2013

“I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends and making new acquaintances at the summit. This summit reminded me how much effort Hult makes to invest in our continuous education even after graduation and how much you literally experience the entire world in just one place. My mind opened up again and it will always be as long as we keep our community so global”.



Samson Ogbu, Nigeria, MBA 2010

“This summit showed that people is the biggest value that Hult can offer. It is overwhelming how Hult brings together that much diversity in terms of career background, nationalities and cultures. I have friends from pretty much every country of the world and seeing some of them there was very special, as well as new peers. I very much enjoyed getting to know them and hear about their backgrounds and passions”.


SimonaSimona Ioannoni, Italy, Master of Social Entrepreneurship, 2013

“The summit was a great opportunity to meet people that had the same experience as you and see how they have grown after Hult and what incredible things they have achieved. It shows you how unique Hult’s international business environment is and all the possibilities that exist out there. I learnt so much from people from different places and different backgrounds who inspired me with their personal stories. Hult is a truly life-changing experience”



Hugo Dias Caetano, Portugal, Master of Finance, 2013

“The summit was very valuable in helping you grow your international network to keep building a truly global career. It was also a great opportunity to see some friends, relieve old memories and make new ones. Speakers shared some wonderful and inspiring stories. There was just so much good energy all weekend!”.



Alina KharinaAlina Kharina, Russia, Master of International Business, 2013

“It was exciting to have the summit in the same place where I live. This was an exhilarating opportunity to meet other alumni and see where they are now and, most importantly, how we can help each other in our business careers. Being there those two days made me reaffirm what Hult taught me: “If you want to achieve a dream, nothing is impossible”.



About Hult Alumni Association

The Hult Alumni Association is a network of over 16 000 alumni in more than 170 countries around the world. The association’s main goal is to create meaningful and lifelong relationships with alumni, while supporting the school’s mission. Each year, the Hult Alumni Association hosts a Global Alumni Summit in a major city to bring alumni together.

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