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Alumni will gather in Miami next week for Wharton’s 49th Global Forum, which will manage to bring together both sports and politics. 

Wharton Executive Director of Alumni Relations Lizann Rode described the forum as comparable to a Wharton MBA reunion experience, taking place over the course of several days and featuring speakers, dinners, networking sessions and social activities.

This year’s forum will feature speakers including Penn professor and 1994 Ph.D. graduate Michael Platt, Alex Rodriguez of Major League Baseball and A-ROD Corp and Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, among others.

“This forum happens to have a little bit of a sports orientation,” Co-Chair and 1979 Wharton MBA graduate Andrew Heller said. “We have a few sports and sports history speakers, but they’re actually mostly talking about business and investing ethically.”

The political climate also influenced the event. 

“[While planning the forums], we really look at where we are and what is going on in the world,” Rode said, adding that Miami’s forum will feature a panel on the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

“Wharton Professor Mauro Guillen will talk about innovations and disruptions in immigration,” Rode said. “Obviously that is a very current topic, not just in Miami, but for many people right now given the new Trump administration.”

“We celebrate and honor the region we travel to for the forum, so we will have some region-centric topics,” Rode added. “For instance, the forum in Amsterdam was on the eve of the Brexit vote, so there was a speaker who talked about that. In Miami, there will be discussions on the current state of affairs in terms of business with Latin America.”

This month’s forum is only the second one ever to be held in the United States, after San Francisco in 2011. Recent forum destinations have included Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Bangkok, Panama and Beijing.

“We intend this to be a truly global forum and to attract people from everywhere,” Heller said.

The event does not have a set theme, and instead focuses on bringing in top-notch faculty and speakers from all fields.

“We used to have a catchphrase or a theme for each forum,” Heller said. “Over the last few years, we’ve consciously chosen to get away from that and just make it the most interesting set of speakers and topics that are possible at the time."

And naturally, the forums are good places to network. 

“I’ve made many friends all over the world as a result of attending these forums in different places,” Heller said. “I actually have developed business partnerships with a few people I’ve gotten to know partly through these forums.”

The forum will take place March 9 through 11. Wharton holds two forums each year, seeking to reach alumni around the world and increase awareness about the school’s current projects.

“We look at this as our flagship event to engage alumni globally,” Rode said.

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