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Interview with the face of TBS Alumni: Cathy HALUPNICZAK

20 January 2023 Portraits / Podcasts

Hello Cathy


It's an honor to interview you today for our January newsletter on a big event within the association: your retirement.

Since you have lived 17 years of TBS Alumni evolution, we have reserved a few questions for you, are you ready?  


1.            How does it feel to be a star 😉 


In all humility, it flatters the ego! We question ourselves a lot because we think ... Why a star? [Laughs]. But, since I'm not one I don't think I can answer that question. 



2.            "But everyone knows you in the TBS Education family!"


Everyone knows my name, yes! (in this case my husband's) but many can't pronounce it, so I'm more simply called Cathy.

And no, I don't think everyone knows me 😉



3.            Back in time: How did you get to TBS Alumni?


I made a professional retraining in 2005 and was graduated of a TBS Education program.


At the time of my graduation, the association was looking to recruit a full-time person to succeed another well-known permanent member of the association, Renée Monzat, and to continue the modernization of the 'Alumni of Sup de Co Toulouse'.


I wanted the job because I already knew quite a few graduates of the school on the one hand, and on the other hand because I thought that in an association the workload would be less intense than in the positions I had previously held.


My daughter was very small at the time, and I thought that in the association I would have more free time... I was later proven wrong! [laughs].



4.            You are the best person to talk about the association and its values, what does TBS Alumni represent according to you? 


It's not only according to me: under the presidency of Pierre Hurstel, we decided to organize regular seminars with the volunteers. About 5 years ago, we asked them to try to describe themselves in a few words. 

This is where the notion of "active volunteers with a caring attitude" came from.


For me, the value of TBS Alumni is exactly there: we feel a real benevolence between the members, at all levels.

We wondered why this state of mind and this incredible volunteer spirit ... and we deduced that it must be the Toulouse air and the festive spirit of the city that persists even after the school: just because you graduate doesn't mean that school is over! [laughs].



5.            You have lived through several generations of Alumni: what significant changes have you noticed during the evolution of the association? 


Not so many changes in substance; the spirit of mutual aid and benevolence is still there as well as the love of the School, the spirit of belonging, whatever the program. 


What has changed is society: since 2006, social networks, emails, ... communication is no longer done by mail, messages are more concise, more direct.


We no longer talk to alumni in the same way, words, expressions, communication vectors have changed. 

The organization of meetings has also necessarily evolved: more alumni, more scattered around the world, this has allowed us to organize chapters in many, many cities, countries! and the digital allows us not to lose sight of each other, we all experienced during the years of pandemic, including through the TBS Global Week, one of the greatest challenges taken up by the association through the network of volunteers.


And our relationship with the School has also evolved in a healthy way: we have never been so close to our Alma Mater, and it is as pleasant as it is efficient.



6.            Which TBS Education class was the craziest? 


In my opinion, all the classes have their bit of madness, well maintained by the student associations from generation to generation. 

I can't name just one, so I'm going to name names... no, I'll leave them alone, they'll recognize themselves [laughs].


The classes of 1950 to 1977, notably represented by the “Ataliens”, who continue to celebrate their class anniversaries with regularity.

The class of 1995 and the rugby alumni, they are completely crazy! They are still 20 years old in fact. 

The 2005*/2006, first graduation party I attended, I still can't get over it... they told about a "crackling" of the school in the Agora magazine, I still laugh!


And the 2013, at least some of them, who went to attend an Integration Weekend dressed as Smurfs, so painted blue... the bus driver wouldn't let them in 😉

* if you are curious, you will know how to find one of these crazy people in an important position for the association



7.            Do you have any surprising anecdotes to tell us? 




✅ All those who participated will remember the shooting of the web-series 'Le Code', to be seen on YouTube (the actors were all volunteers of the association, there were many laughs!


✅ In the same spirit, the writing of the scenario of the AdVitam video, it was a good time, and the reactions of some internet users were surprising: some accused us of being a cult!


✅ The first Regeneration Party in Paris.


The event gathered former students who were celebrating their 10,20,30,40.... years of promotion and was also organized in honor of the retirement of Geneviève Cazes-Valettes, a charismatic teacher if ever there was one. 

The organization was well done by the volunteers with a superb conference but the place was not quite adapted to the madness (see previous paragraph) of the alumni.


So during the conference, guests who came only for the second part of the evening arrived, and all this beautiful people mixed together while shouting with joy: the speaker, fortunately, had enough character to calm down (a little) the game.


That night I realized that no matter how old the alumni is, the madness inherent to Sup de Co Toulouse, ESC Toulouse or TBS Education remains the same. We are all still 20 years old!


Advice: Don't spend money on vitamins, get together with alumni from Sup de Co, ESC, TBS Education: it's a great way to recharge your batteries! 


More generally, what surprises me is the way volunteers become friends even though they don't know each other when they join the association!  When they get together, especially during the seminars, they are closer to each other than what we can see in some family reunions in the literal sense. 


Personally, I have found many true friends among them; my family has grown, and this is one of the greatest opportunities one can have in life.



8.            What was your biggest challenge within TBS Alumni?


Enduring the volunteers?  [laughs]


No, it's not true, the biggest challenge was not to lose sight of the association's objective: to be more present with the alumni, to help as many as possible to meet each other, to get in touch!


The associative life is not as linear as the life in a company can be, by the statutes the Board and the Office are renewed regularly, it is necessary to adapt to these changes. Depending on the period, we can experience problems of volunteer commitment, money, and recruitment of competent people in the long term. 


You must tell yourself that it doesn't matter, that if it doesn't work out, you can start over. 

There are disappointing moments. You launch a project that doesn't work or that stops because you don't have enough resources, but on the other hand you always manage to bounce back thanks to the strength of the group. 

The main challenge is always to be ready to bounce back.



9.            Your best memory as General Delegate? 


I have so many! Impossible to relate them all here, but I will always have a mixed feeling of "best memory" and nostalgia.

Every year, when the students who have spent 3 to 6 months with us leave, it's great because we realize that we have built real relationships with them (some of them come back as volunteers), but it's also sad because they leave us.

Contrary to a classic management, this continuous turnover forces us to adapt; we work with people we know are temporary and finally it works. We manage to build something that goes beyond work. 



10.          How do you feel just before you leave? 


Relieved because I know that the next generation is assured: Raquel and Mathilde are very competent and invested, the school and the foundation are by our side and the trio is more and more efficient so that the missions of TBS Alumni are known and recognized.


Relieved because we managed to recruit Greg who looks like me without looking like me (In the sense that he is an alumnus who has been invested in the school and in the association, who is rather patient but who also has a temper... probably less bad temper than me).  [laughs]. 


Relieved because 17 years in the same position had never happened to me and I felt that I was reaching the end of something and finally relieved because retirement means that you are at an age where you want to concentrate on something else other than your job. 


And beyond that, happy. I feel like I'm leaving behind an organization that works and that will be able to go beyond what many of the alumni imagined 10 or 20 years ago.

Being then, I graduated from the school, I live in Toulouse and I want to stay close to the alumni, so I hope to be invited to interesting events! [Laughs]



11.          Do you have any advice, or a word to say to Greg who will succeed you? 


Keep believing, there are bound to be changes as the school and the students' desires evolve, be inventive and it will work! And take advantage of the incredible strength given to us by the volunteers, your paid team, there is no better booster than this group.



12.          All the Alumni thank you for all these years, do you have a last word for the Alumni community? 


First, thank you all: more and more of you are following the association, it's the best recognition ever.

To the students as well as to the graduates I would say: Believe in your association, and value it!


There is a very close-knit team of employees who do extraordinary things and teams of students who push us every year to reinvent ourselves, and an extraordinary team of volunteers who accompany you all over the world and organize quality meetings.


So, believe it, join the network, enjoy it because TBS Alumni is a great place!



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