Curious and yearning eyes staring unwaveringly back at me, and the eager voices of underclassmen piping up to ask me how “CBE used to be back in the day.” I’ve grown accustomed to scenes like this one.
I’m sort of the oldest member of the organization, the eldest if you will: the old-timer, the golden-ager – essentially, the grandfather. So it’s no coincidence that when the organization’s youngin’s learn that I’ve been around for a whopping two-and-a-half years, they flood me with questions about how CBE has changed over the years. Needless to say, I’m flattered when they don’t know or find out. However what I’ve taken from my observations, and consequentially attempted to pass along to our youth, is one major theme: supportive culture never goes out of style.
The projects that we work on, the clients we collaborate with, and the intensity of cases we undertake have no doubt increased in magnitude and intensity over the years. But one thing has maintained steady, and that is the spirit of mentorship and passion for support that pervades the organization. It is a spirit and passion for ensuring that every member has a voice, feels connected to fellow members, is supported and bolstered in her professional and sustainability-related pursuits, and most of all, feels at home in the organization.
I’ve heard too many horror stories of organizations and their leadership failing as entities to foster a healthy atmosphere. No organization is ever established for the purposes of being “toxic” or riddled by nepotism and foul play among members, but far too often, organizations lose sight of creating an inclusive environment beyond the barriers of entering the organization, and based upon testimonials of countless friends, those that suffer most are the broader membership.
Largely over the past two years, CBE’s Boards and its leaders have worked to instill a greater sense of community and engagement within and outside of the organization. To make members feel welcome, included, and invested in the club’s growth has been our recipe for success. It is a virtuous cycle that keeps on giving and perhaps the only sustainable way to ensure that generations of members beyond our own will not falter as pre-professional organizations before us have.
So whenever the young lads ask me how CBE used to be, I will tell them about how the nature of work has changed, but I will also tell them about how the supportive culture they cherish in CBE has always existed in some form or fashion. That, I know, will never go out of style.
Jeff Cott is the Chief Financial Officer for CBE, and is a senior at Harvard studying Economics and Government.