Looking forward to 2019 and beyond, a small team of CKIC alumni and CKIC staff are working on a redevelopment of the CKIC Alumni Association. In the spirit of openness and working out loud, we will pen a series of blog posts to share our insights, questions and discoveries along the way. All comments, suggestions, big thinking and provocations welcome!
I’ve been working at Climate KIC since May in the joint position of Journey Manager and Alumni Coordinator. Working closely with the Climate KIC Alumni Association and the Climate KIC community team, I have undertaken research into how we might develop the alumni network into a mutually beneficial innovative community. We are, after all, a Knowledge and Innovation Community and it would be such a shame to lose touch with all the hundreds of participants that go through Climate KIC programmes every year. Unfortunately, that is currently the case with the vast majority of alumni.
As it stands, the Climate KIC Alumni Association is a separate legal entity from Climate KIC and is run by a board of six dedicated alumni working on a voluntary basis. Although separate, the CKAA works very closely with CKIC to organise events, coordinate local chapters and attempt to reach over 3000 alumni. Throughout this redevelopment process it is important to acknowledge and appreciate the hard work done by these and previous CKAA board members to make the alumni what it is today. It is no small feat, I tell you. CKAA was the first EIT alumni association started by a group of motivated students back in 2012. Fresh out of CKIC education programmes, they saw the potential that lay before them, embraced the moment and focused their energy on bringing CKIC alumni together. Collectively, the CKAA has learnt a lot in the past six years and all of that experience will not be lost as we think about the future of the alumni network.
Since 2012 CKIC has grown beyond recognition and the alumni association too. Alumni are spread around the world working on their own start-ups, shaking up traditional industries, creating new ones, igniting social change, expanding their horizons and building their careers. These people and their ideas are having an impact around the globe, in part thanks to the education that they received during programmes that Climate KIC poured passion and resources into delivering. Climate KIC alumni are achieving things we could never have imagined possible in 2012. And, honestly, we still can’t really imagine. Because the vast spread and quantity of alumni has outgrown the association. The structure that was set up to connect a few hundred alumni has no hope of reaching several thousand, never mind supporting them as they navigate the complex world of innovation. After much discussion with the CKAA board, the community team and various alumni, it seems that we need to employ some innovation ourselves.
And so I have set off on my alumni adventure. I’m stripping it back to the basics, diving deep and asking the big questions: Why do we want to engage this community? What can we offer? What can we gain? What can we achieve together as a community? What does a truly innovative community look like? What could our alumni community be? I won’t pretend to be able to offer solid answers to these questions within the coming months nor would I want to. This process will take time and experimentation. It will undoubtedly produce failures and false starts. It will hopefully generate more and more questions. The outcome is as yet unknown but the potential for impact, growth and sustainable change is huge, perhaps even bigger than we dare dream. These questions are a starting point and I for one am very excited to begin.
Emily Swaddle 22nd October