Meet Nate Turk, BSBA 2019 and new member of the WashU Alumni Board of Governors

  • November 17, 2023
  • By Suzanne Koziatek
  • 3 minute read

The wide-ranging curiosity and global outlook that defined Nate Turk’s years at Olin propelled him into a career in marketing for Gap Inc.

They’ve also helped him close the circle by becoming active in WashU’s alumni network, most recently as a new appointee to the University’s Alumni Board of Governors.

Turk, who lives in the San Francisco area, already has come up with new ways to engage with Bay Area alumni and said he wants to pursue that goal more broadly on the board.

“I hope to help WashU connect better with younger alumni by taking a more holistic and personalized approach—focusing on building alumni community and personalizing touchpoints with each alum,” said Turk, BSBA 2019, during a recent visit to WashU for his first board meeting.

As one of 11 associate members of the board, he’ll help advise the WashU Alumni Association, and assist in its goals of understanding and engaging with alumni, said Suzanne Wagstaff, senior director of alumni networks at WashU. Associate members are younger or more recent graduates brought on for a three-year term to get a taste of how the Alumni Board works.

Wagstaff said Turk stood out in his enthusiasm for assisting in alumni activities in the Bay Area.

“He attended everything he could and always asked, ‘What can I do to help? What do you need?’” she said. “I know he will bring his passion for WashU, his warmth, and leadership to the Alumni Board of Governors.”

A breadth of experience

Turk, a Chicago native, said he was drawn to Olin’s program for his BSBA because of the breadth of studies he could pursue and its many avenues for global studies. He attended the Israel Summer Business Academy, studied business and Italian in Milan for a semester and participated in the Madagascar Sustainability Initiative, which sent him and his classmates to that nation to develop projects that benefitted residents.

On the Madagascar project, he first came to the attention of Beth Doores, who was then a program director for the Center for Experiential Learning and is now director of the WashU alumni networks. “I was struck by his vision and his thoughtfulness, how his entrepreneurial spirit was already there before he graduated.”

After Olin, Turk focused his career path on gaining a breadth of experience. Encouraged by his WashU career advisor, he joined a rotational program at Gap Inc. that allowed him to cycle through different areas of the company, focused on the digital business. After working in digital analytics across the various Gap Inc. brands, Turk focused on one of those brands, Athleta, where he currently leads commercial planning.

“I am extremely curious and always am looking to learn how different roles and parts of the business intersect,” he said. “Olin empowered me to consider how I could continue my learning journey after college with an openness to switching roles more often and learning new sides of the business.”

Strengthening the alumni community

When his job took him to San Francisco with his partner, fellow WashU alum Jack Lamarre, BA 2021, Turk had a network of WashU friends there, but many left in the wake of the pandemic. “I had to rebuild my community.”

He reached out to Wagstaff, to see how he could help grow and strengthen the Bay Area WashU alumni network. It’s a goal that Wagstaff and her team share—the region is a significant pipeline for both the recruitment of students and their eventual career paths.

“If you’re in a tech or digital-adjacent role, this is such a great place to grow and meet others who are super-passionate about super-interesting things,” Turk said.

To build community in that group, Turk said he looks for events that take advantage of the Bay Area’s outdoor culture, such as hiking. He and Lamarre also want to plan smaller events, held in people’s homes, to encourage deeper ties.

“Often at large alumni events, it’s harder to meet new people and forge meaningful connections,” Turk said. “We want to get people to open up their homes to 10-15 alumni, so they can meet people on a deeper level.”

Turk and Lamarre plan to host the first event, focused on the idea of service and in coordination with WashU’s Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement.

“I love being involved with WashU and hearing about the university, getting a better understanding of it and strengthening our connection to it,” Turk said.

About the Author

Suzanne Koziatek

Suzanne Koziatek

As communications and content writer for WashU Olin Business School, my job is to seek out the people and programs making an impact on the Olin community and the world. Before coming to Olin, I worked in corporate communications, healthcare education and as a journalist at newspapers in Georgia, South Carolina and Michigan.

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