A Habitat for Humanity project led to a business partnership for Bethany Yeasted Dufour ’05 and Sharlene Sones ’86

Most people arrive at college expecting to make friends, but one of the many things that makes Babson special is how often college friends become business partners. For Bethany Yeasted Dufour ’05 and Sharlene Sones ’86, their collegiate years never overlapped but their alumni bond and mutual interests spurred them to launch a venture together. Both entrepreneurs in their own right, (Dufour is the founder and executive coach at the Maley Group, and Sones is the founder and brand strategist at Brandstoria), their latest project is called The Next Play.

“I’ve always appreciated working with Babson alumni,” says Sones. “I’ve been employed by Babson classmates and served them as my clients. It’s like I’m immediately transported back to campus. There’s something we share in the way we approach business and think about its role in the world.” Sones is in her third term as volunteer board member of the Babson Alumni Association, which she initially joined so that alumni from outside the Boston area would have a voice at the table. Both Sones and Dufour live in Pennsylvania, and attend as many local alumni club events as possible.

In fact, it was at a Philadelphia alumni event that Dufour and Sones first clicked. “We met in earnest at a Babson Day of Service event with Habitat for Humanity,” recalls Sones. “Hoisting roof trusses to the second story of a home can really help you get to know a person very quickly! We discovered we were both entrepreneurs and identified ways to assit each other with our respective businessess, and the rest is history,” says Dufour.

Sones hatched the idea for The Next Play out of her experience working on branding and marketing in the sports industry. She had fielded several requests for career training geared to student-athletes, and saw an opportunity to fill the need in a more intentional way than just giving résumé advice. “Student-athletes live in a very competitive world and must step out with great confidence, vision, and purpose. Most importantly, a great coach can be invaluable in that process,” she says.

“I have a major interest in serving women,” adds Dufour, who signed on immediately when Sones shared the idea. “If our athletes can add long-term vision, presence, and intention to the long list of other qualities that make them such valuable employees, their possibilities are limitless.”

The Next Play is starting close to home with a pilot program​ of 10 Babson students representing eight teams. The program will help female athletes maximize their personal and professional potential, develop a vision, define core values, and increase performance, productivity, confidence, and effectiveness.

It’s no surprise to Dufour and Sones that the alumni response has been positive as well. “We have been showered with great ideas, insights, and personal anecdotes from alumni,” says Dufour. “The Babson community is generous and creative with its assistance—we’re so thankful for the support in helping us grow The Next Play to its full potential.”​​​​​​​​​