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					COMMS TASK FORCE REPORT TO IAB: 2003 Summary of Work
The Communications Task Force has worked closely over the year with both the Alumni Relations and the Communications Departments. That effort has been improved thanks to a strengthening of communications resource in both departments: David Lane is the School’s Communications Director and, within Alumni Relations, we have a new Deputy Director, Sarah Seedsman, who is a London Business School Sloan alumna and is responsible for communications and events. These improved resources have been particularly helpful in creating and supporting a mutual understanding of what we have been trying to achieve on behalf of alumni. Last year at our IAB AwayDay and first Task Force meeting, we agreed that communications is one of the primary and most critical services provided to alumni. At that time, there were a number of communications priorities on the School’s agenda. The most important of these was Portal, which was in the position then of consulting user groups and improving the basic functionality, look and feel. There were other areas we felt could be improved with more IAB involvement, particularly AlumniNews and our understanding of alumni views through more robust alumni research. Therefore, we decided that we could make the most important contribution to alumni and London Business School by working closely with the School on its existing communications agenda, all of which, we felt, would help us to serve the alumni constituency better. We did this was by different members of the Task Force taking individual responsibility for specific projects and volunteering their time to the School in work groups, individually and collectively. There have been a number over the course of the year, of which the key ones are outlined below: 1. Alumni Market Research Project – Lisa Duke (MBA95) was our Task Force representative on the research project. She worked closely with Alumni Relations and Martin Saville, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations, as part of the project team that directed the work with Taylor Nelson Sofres, a global market research firm. The results of the qualitative component have been enlightening, with considerable analysis undertaken. This has proved invaluable in assisting the School in understanding alumni views, and will play a key role in this year’s AwayDay and identification of work priorities for the coming year. We hope to take the project further into a qualitative phase with focus groups while continuing with a long-term view of the merits of professional market research. AlumniNews – The Comms Task Force, led by Cheri Lofland (SLN 95), has supported the improvement of AlumniNews over the course of the year. a. Communications Task Force members, including Lisa Duke, Cheri Lofland participated in a research project undertaken by MBA students to consider the School’s publications and benchmark them against other leading business schools. That work fed into the Communications Department as well as to future planning for AlumniNews b. Working closely with the Communications Department, as well as Jackie Morgan and Sarah Seedsman in Alumni Relations, a new Editorial Board of the IAB’s ‘ExCo’ agrees the editorial schedule with the production team, and reviews and approves the design and each article within the magazine. In



addition to Cheri, Jim Minton (SEMBA2001) and Jane Sadler (MBA33) form the Editorial Board. 3. Portal – The most ambitious communications project for the year has undoubtedly been the Portal ‘alumni view’ development, on which members of the Comms Task Force have been involved for more than two years. Barry Herstein (MSc19) and Justin Mencher (MBA96) have dedicated many hours, along with the School’s Alumni Relations Team, Communications Department and Information Services Department (ISD), to develop a superior networking and collaboration tool for alumni. Their representation led to a request from the IAB to delay the launch until Portal could ‘meet or exceed’ alumni expectations and offer an improvement over the Forum. Further contributions were solicited from alumni by Markus van der Berg (JEMBA2000) on Forum, which have also been fed into the site development. We have now rescheduled launch of Portal’s alumni view for March. Global Summit – Ann Stanton (LEP37) led the Task Force’s participation in a project team to consider the Global Summit, which was a project organised by a crossfunctional team in the School comprising Anne Sanford, Gay Haskins and Jackie Morgan. The hugely successful inaugural Summit was held last July and attracted over 400 attendees from around the world. Alumni Experience – Another effort to improve our understanding of and service to London Business School alumni was organised by Ann Stanton, who invited students on the Global EMBA programme to a Task Force meeting and share their experience with the Task Force and School communications leaders of Columbia’s Alumni Relations activities. Student Presentation – Lisa, working with Cheri, as well as Sarah and Rebecca Feary of the Alumni Relations team, has produced a new presentation for students during their time at London Business School. It responds to one of the IAB’s strategies to consider students as alumni from their first day at the School and involve students in more alumni activities. The brief presentation, which was prepared for IAB members to present to students, seeks to inform but also personalise the alumni experience, engender excitement and raise awareness of the many ways of getting involved with the School as alumni.




Thanks to Lisa Duke, Barry Herstein, Marcus Kennedy, Justin Mencher, Jane Sadler, Ann Stanton, Jackie Morgan, Sarah Seedsman, David Lane and Sarah Edwards, members of the Task Force who contributed their time and efforts in 2003.


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