Taking a Chance on the Next Generation
“It’s clear to me that many of you have made a lot of effort to come back to campus,” MIT Sloan Alumni Board Chair Stephanie Tan, MBA ’98, told the audience in Wong Auditorium at the 2022 MIT Sloan Reunion.
“That means that MIT Sloan means a lot to you. It certainly means a lot to me.”
In remarks made before the “IM2M Talks” session, Tan, founder and managing partner of TAN Talent Group, emphasized the importance of volunteerism to the alumni, guests, and friends of the school who were present for the first in-person Reunion since before the pandemic.
Ahead of the 2023 MIT Sloan Reunion in June, at which the MBA Class of 1998 will celebrate its 25th anniversary, Tan believes just as strongly in the power and impact of volunteering.
“MIT Sloan took a chance on me,” she says, “and volunteering means I have the chance to give back.”
After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Stanford, Tan moved across the country to work for a small environmental engineering consulting firm in Princeton, New Jersey. Two years into her career, she realized she did not want to continue down the engineering path long-term.
After learning about management consulting from an acquaintance, Tan decided to apply to business school to pivot her career into management consulting. She applied to several schools and ultimately decided to attend MIT Sloan. Unlike her fellow incoming MBAs, who had three to five years of work experience, she had only been working for two years.
“I was on the younger side and did not have exposure working for a larger complex organization,” says Tan, “so I probably couldn’t add as much value and perspectives as my classmates. It’s only now in hindsight that I realize what MIT Sloan is, which is more than just a classroom setting. It’s more about learning from your colleagues.”
Twenty-five years of experience in management consulting, recruiting, and career development later, as well as founding her own firm in 2019, Tan appreciates the chance to give back to the school, her classmates, and future generations of MBA students. She especially enjoys the opportunities that annual events like Reunion afford her and her classmates.
“In connecting with colleagues through Reunion activities, I have found that we learn a lot more from each other at this stage in our lives. It makes it a lot more fun, too,” says Tan.
...and chances given
Soon after graduation, Tan was hired at Kearney, the global consulting firm, and worked there for seven years. During her time there, through what was colloquially known as “firm-building activity,” she was introduced to recruiting as a career option.
“I had the opportunity to either write a white paper or volunteer with campus recruiting. Because I had just been on the recruiting side, I chose that,” says Tan. “Lo and behold, that’s what I did as a volunteer firm-building activity, and it’s what I do for a living today.”
More recently, Tan has volunteered her time with the MIT Sloan Career Development Office (CDO), where she spent much of her time between her classes. “I spent a lot of my time in the CDO because it was like the library to me,” she laughs. “I’m such a nerd.”
At the CDO, Tan learned a lot about the hiring process for internships and jobs from the staff and second-year students who were more than willing to help first-year MBAs like her. It is this knowledge that she is especially excited to give back to the next generation of students who walk through the CDO’s doors.
As Susan Brennan (Assistant Dean, Career Development Office) notes, Tan was integral to the creation of the newly launched MIT Sloan Industry Advisors program, which provides industry expertise and guidance to students.
“Stephanie was pivotal in analyzing the industries and functions to identify key areas where we could tap alumni expertise. She also worked closely with the MIT Sloan Alumni Board on planning and executing the program. Personally, she has been a key resource on market trends through the lens of an executive recruiter and is always generous in sharing her industry insights and thought leadership,” says Brennan.
As much praise as Brennan and others are eager to shower Tan with, however, the MBA Class of 1998 alumna is quick to deflect the praise and refocus the attention on her classmates and the MIT Sloan alumni community at large.
“This is what sets us apart from other schools,” says Tan. “There’s a strong sense of wanting to give back among alumni. Always has been.”
MIT Sloan Reunion 2023 will be held on campus from June 1–4, 2023. Visit the Reunion 2023 website to learn more about the event and how to register.