Volunteer Spotlight: Deborah Mason Pontual, WG'10

Julia Embody, Associate Director of Global Clubs with Wharton Alumni Relations, interviewed Deborah Mason Pontual, WG'10 for this edition of Volunteer Spotlight. Debbie recently stepped into the president role for the Wharton Club of Brazil after previously leading Knowledge@Wharton High School programs for the club.


JE: What is your greatest achievement since graduating from Wharton?

DMP: My greatest achievement has certainly been my 3 year old son Nicholas. It is such a blessing to watch him grow as a person. I dream of him one day being at Penn/Wharton!

JE: What motivates you to volunteer for Wharton?

DMP: I feel Wharton has added so much value to my life. My 2 years in Philadelphia helped me develop and evolve not just as a professional, but also as a person. To feel like I’m somehow “giving back” to Wharton is my greatest source of motivation. The other inspiration is the network. I believe one of the greatest assets of a Wharton education is the network of alumni that you become a part of. To be able to be more active in the community and, as a result, get greater access to the brilliant minds that attended Wharton is an honor and a privilege. 

JE: What is your vision for the Wharton Club of Brazil?

DMP: First and foremost, our vision is to be recognized as the alumni club that most generates value for its members. Moreover, our mission is to promote the network of alumni in Brazil, further strengthen the Wharton brand in Brazil and be the point of contact for Wharton administration and faculty in Brazil. The engagement of our local alumni is vital to achieving all of these goals. That is why we’re constantly trying to innovate and maintain momentum.

JE: How do you keep your club leadership team motivated?

DMP: We have a fairly large team of leaders (approx. 15 Directors) who each have their own “mission” within the club. This helps foster independence and autonomy which I believe helps keep everyone motivated. We are all volunteers and at times it is challenging to juggle our day-to-day jobs with time for the Club, but overall we all share a passion for Wharton and for promoting the brand and engaging alumni in Brazil. 

JE: What advice would you give to a new club president?

DMP: Build a network of support and try to engage several people who will help “anchor” your main objectives. For me, the support of the past club president, the local Board as well as the Directors is what makes everything possible. Without such a structure, my efforts would be in vain. The support of the Office of External Affairs has also been crucial in helping us stay connected to Philly. With all of this being said, I am still learning the ropes and probably need to receive more advice than provide it at this point!