“The best networking is not done over beers,” Andres Small says. “It’s a good time, but you won’t remember that.”
After arriving on campus, Small, now a principal at Graycliff Partners, seized the networking opportunity he saw inherent in the School’s cluster system, which divides incoming MBA students into groups of 65 to 70 fellow students who take their first-year core classes together. “I thought people sharing their backgrounds and goals within their cluster would be very powerful in enhancing each student’s network,” he says. “Then you’d have a group of 60 or 70 peers looking out for you professionally and personally because they know what’s important to you.”
The result was CBS Matters, a forum he launched in March 2011 where incoming students share personal stories with their cluster about what matters most to them and why. Peer advisors helped him spread the concept to other clusters, and the Graduate Business Association sponsored School-wide forums inviting professors, administrators, alumni, and students to share their stories with the community.
Participants’ presentations range from the dramatic — student cancer survivors leading healthy-living initiatives — to the lighthearted: Professor David Juran spoke about hiking in nature, listening to classical music, and building a brick wall. But all achieve the same goal: bringing the School community closer together.
“It’s been years since I saw Professor Juran’s presentation, yet I still remember the picture he shared of the brick wall he built in his backyard, and how he likened it to Winston Churchill, who did the same,” Small says. “CBS Matters helps the School community learn and care more about each other, in turn making our network stronger.”