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Professor Andy Aylesworth speaks to a packed room
Photo by Kevin Maguire

Nearly 150 alumni returned to campus — some for the first time in years — for two energetic days of what Bentley does best: continued learning. Panels ranged from discussions on sustainable business practices to the transformative role of AI and robotics, each sparking lively debates that continued during networking sessions. Presenter Katie Armstrong, MBA ’22, said, “Everyone wants to help each other out, because we’re all alumni. It’s been a really collaborative and great environment.”

Keynote sessions, networking receptions and more

The alumni conference was organized in large part by volunteers, including the Global Alumni Board (GAB) and conference steering committee

Four people posing together, one holding an award

To the cheers of the entire audience, GAB presented its annual awards: the Harry C. Bentley Alumni Achievement Award to Melissa Hector ’11, and the Emerging Alumni Leader Award to Megan Forman ’24 and Humberto Zepeda ’24. Discussing his dedication and involvement with Bentley, outgoing GAB Chair Keith Singletary ’96 remarked, “Bentley invested in me, and that’s why I give back.” 

In addition to inspiring conversations, keynote speeches by leading experts prompted many to think differently about the future of business. The Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce, Vala Afshar, P ’25 shared in his talk, Boundless, that one of the most critical things business leaders can do is challenge assumptions. It’s only possible to collect data about the past, he says, but how we interpret it and make predictions can determine our success. An example: Blockbuster passed on purchasing Netflix because they couldn’t imagine a future where people had strong enough wireless service in their homes for streaming platforms to take off. If we can think beyond the existing state, we’ll be better equipped to take advantage of big inflection points and big opportunities for disruption. 

Vala Afshar, P ’25 with daughter Donya, a rising senior at Bentley

Another unmistakable takeaway from keynote speakers — the future is AI- and robot-enabled, with humans at the core of it all. Chad Wright, MSCIS ’01, brought the most anticipated guest at the conference: Spot the robot dog.

Speaker on stage next to a yellow robot

The question most often asked of the chief information officer for Boston Dynamics: Are robots going to take our jobs? His take: The future of co-roboting — humans and robots working together — means that we’re not talking about replacing jobs, but shifting them. “Robots focus on dirty, dull and dangerous jobs to free up humans to do more abstract, decision-making work,” Wright says.  

Similarly, CK Kerley painted a picture in her keynote speech of a future that will change from working on machines as business enablers, to working with machines as business collaborators. “It’s all about collaboration, not competition. What robots do well — computing data in milliseconds — isn’t what we do well: critical thinking. It’s about both doing their job, but doing it better together.”

Like at many professional conferences, attendees bonded and departed feeling rejuvenated, with new ideas to bring back to their daily work. Unique to this conference full of Bentley Falcons is the like-minded nature that comes with earning a Bentley degree; as one conference-goer put it: “Bentley alumni know how to network.” Connections made during these two days will continue to deepen as guests stay in touch and bounce ideas off each other, supporting one other and their alma mater. 

Build your network at the next alumni gathering