Business Strategy

An Innovative Alumni Program Keeps Keystone Teams Connected

keystone consulting alumni

Keystone, an innovative strategy and economics consulting firm, is revolutionizing the standard fare firm alumni program, imbuing it with the transformative ideas and uncommon service approach it implements in its consulting work for the world’s leading technology firms. Keystone Next utilizes the best practices of successful technology platforms and ecosystems to nurture Keystone’s community of current and former team members and foster the firm’s culture of learning and transformative ideas. “Even when my colleagues move on from the firm, they remain an active part of the Keystone community,” says Senior Associate Sydney House, who runs the firm’s alumni initiative, Keystone Next, with Keystone’s President Jeff Marowits.

Keystone Next has a focus on fostering a vital alumni community with a two-way exchange between alumni and current employees.

Keystone Next has a focus on fostering a vital alumni community with a two-way exchange between alumni and current employees.

The mission of Keystone Next is to foster an array of compelling and mutually beneficial conversations and build knowledge and insights from exceptional peers. “Keystone Next members are eager to share and our current team members are eager to learn insights and perspectives that alums continue to develop post-Keystone,” explains Marowits. “At the same time, alumni continue to value the special learning that Keystone’s innovative work and its network of experts continuously develop.”

Keystone Next was started in Spring 2019 by then Keystone Associate Yiwei Zhao (now a Keystone Next member and Senior Product Operations Manager at Cruise) and Marowits. “After I joined Keystone, I quickly observed that Keystone has an amazing network. I was inspired by their journeys and the experiences they shared, which sparked the idea for Keystone Next — a Keystone alumni network that helps us stay connected with one another in various ways for life.”

Today, Keystone Next has 200+ members. The Keystone Next members are represented across so many industries – as depicted in the graphic below.

Keystone Next members pursue very diverse paths after Keystone. This graphic represents the range of industries in which Keystone Next members currently work.

Keystone Next members pursue very diverse paths after Keystone. This graphic, created by Consultant Nathaniel Boley, represents the range of industries in which Keystone Next members currently work. 

Keystone Next has facilitated vital research, even at the height of the pandemic. Keystone Next member and Emergency Medicine Physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, Kelley Wittbold, collaborated with Keystone Expert and Chairman, Marco Iansiti, Keystone Senior Engagement Manager, Colleen Carroll, and Keystone Senior Associate, Lily Wolfenzon, to publish a telemedicine thought leadership piece in Harvard Business Review. The article explains why our national health system needs a rapid and large-scale adoption of digital operating models to keep up with the kind of explosive patient demand of the coronavirus. “It was a remarkable example of how we can bring transformative insights by drawing on the expansive, frontline experience of our alumni network in combination with Keystone’s expertise and knowledge base,” says Senior Associate Lily Wolfenzon.

Keystone Next also hosts a monthly Alumni Speaker Series led by Consultants Alex Sheng and Yang Xu that invites alumni to share their transformative ideas and connect with current Keystone employees. Connecting and building company culture can be challenging in a virtual workplace. Sheng explains, “I am grateful for the role that the Keystone Next Speaker Series has played in fostering a sense of community in these turbulent times. I am always blown away by the caliber, diversity, and generosity of our alumni network. Some of the incredible speakers we are lucky to feature this year include a former Israeli figure skating champion who founded a digital physical therapy platform and an advisor to the Mayor of Boston regarding food accessibility and racial equity.”

In August, teams gathered for a virtual Keystone Next speaker series featuring Keystone Next member, Hans Sheng Chia, now the Director of Special Projects at GiveDirectly.

In August, teams gathered for a virtual Keystone Next speaker series featuring Keystone Next member, Hans Sheng Chia, now the Director of Special Projects at GiveDirectly.

This past August, the Alumni Speaker Series welcomed Keystone Next member Hans Sheng Chia, who is the Director of Special Projects at GiveDirectly, the first nonprofit organization that enables donors to give directly to the poor. Hans talked about positioning the organization in this era of COVID-19 and leveraging the power of technology to transform the aid and development sector. Hans’ presentation brought together both Keystone Next members and current employees for an open and interactive discussion about the ways everyone can give back and help those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From left to right, Keystone Next member Jessica Solomon, Keystone consultant Bennett Winton, and Keystone Next members Kadir Annamalai and Neha Bhargava with their daughter at an event in the San Francisco office.

From left to right, Keystone Next member Jessica Solomon, Keystone Consultant Bennett Winton, and Keystone Next members Kadir Annamalai and Neha Bhargava with their daughter at an event in the San Francisco office.

Strong connections are maintained via alumni inclusion in several fun social outings including participation in the annual Fantasy Football league, regional Keystone Night Outs, Happy Hours, the Halloween Costume Contest, and inclusion in the annual Keystone Offsite.

The Keystone Next team also produces an annual newsletter for the alumni community summarizing insights from the Alumni Speaker Series and highlighting accomplishments from diverse alums. “Through the alumni newsletter, we aim to connect alumni and current employees by celebrating each other’s successes and keep alumni up to date on happenings within Keystone,” says Associate Megan Wilkins, newsletter editor.


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*All photos provided by Keystone Strategy

About the Author

As a strategy and economics consulting firm, Keystone takes on some of the most pressing challenges in technology, economics, and business. To deliver our transformative ideas, we carefully nurture a culture that emphasizes smart risk-taking, genuine insight and a structured way of thinking.