Meet Julia van de Sandt, the 2021 Outstanding Alumni Chapter Member
By: McKenna Sawchak
“It’s a small world. It keeps recrossing itself.” – David Mitchell, English novelist, television writer, and screenwriter
As someone who was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma in 2016 and now works full-time for the organization, I didn’t expect to run into many members that I knew. With the large number of new members BGS inducts globally every year, the odds that one of my former graduate school classmates would end up receiving the Outstanding Alumni Member award, seemed small. I’m not sure of the exact probability, but what I do know is that Julia van de Sandt, 2021 Outstanding Alumni Chapter Member awardee and my former classmate, is more than deserving of the title. It was a privilege to reconnect and be able to share her impressive educational and professional journey with the BGS community.
Having lived and studied in Germany her whole life, Julia was first introduced to BGS when she arrived at Southeast Missouri State University while pursuing a dual MBA. When I asked her to remember back to her first exposure to BGS, she reminisced about the large (and impressive) Beta Gamma Sigma sign nestled between two blossoming cherry trees in front of the business school building. Fast-forward to two semesters later when Julia was not only inducted into BGS, but also received the Outstanding MBA Student award.
After Julia graduated with her MBA from Southeast, she moved back to Germany and began working full-time as a inventory controller on a cruise ship but was quickly promoted to the corporate offices. Her relationship with BGS reignited in 2019 when the Germany Alumni Chapter reached out to start reengaging members. During the first alumni meeting, she realized she was in a room with a lot of likeminded people – all motivated, passionate, and ambitious. According to the Germany BGS Chapter (who nominated her for the Outstanding Alumni Chapter Member award), after this meeting, Julia quickly became a pillar of their chapter’s reengagement project. Throughout her one-and-a-half-year seat on the board as Vice President of University Relations, Julia not only became the main contact for the four university chapters in Germany, but regularly attended their recognition ceremonies to promote engagement and to establish a connection with the new BGS members.
Julia’s work with the Germany Alumni Chapter doesn’t stop there. When the pandemic started, she set up virtual networking sessions every month, which focused on topics like how to negotiate salaries, become financially stable, and properly prepare for a job interview. Julia’s empathy for others shines through these session topics. Her primary goal was to help educate newly graduated BGS members during the very trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, Julia digitized and reinvented the chapter’s newsletter. The work and creativity she put into the newsletter has established a strong communication foundation for the chapter, one that they still utilize to this day. All these reasons (and many more) are why Julia van de Sandt was successfully nominated and named the 2021 Outstanding Alumni Chapter Member.
So where is Julia now? In the last year, she has transitioned into academics. She’s currently pursuing her Ph.D. in marketing at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business and has rediscovered her passion for research. If you’re asking yourself, “why did she leave the corporate world?” Julia’s answer is simple, “In the corporate world, you mainly try to achieve goals, solve problems, or use challenges to create opportunities, but you don’t necessarily look at the underlying causality. And that’s what I’m getting to do now - really understand what’s going on.”
Julia’s story left me with three important takeaways:
- The connections we make within BGS are strong and will last a lifetime. Attend the networking events to meet fellow members, and don’t forget to stay in touch. You never know when that connection will come back into your life.
- Hard work often pays off. Attending recognition ceremonies, establishing new communication protocols, and setting up virtual networking sessions was a lot of work for Julia and the Germany Alumni Chapter, but they’re seeing the benefits in their new member engagement. Whether you’re trying to grow your BGS chapter, continue your education, or change career paths, you’ve got this.
- Our members’ success and stories are unparalleled, and that’s because we truly select the “best in business.” Julia’s an exceptional BGS member, but we know more are out there! If you’d like to be considered for a BGS blog feature, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.