Alexandra Beuchert ’98 earned a B.S. in geology from Union College before moving to the United Kingdom with her husband, Simon Perry. There, they started their (former) business, Xibis Limited. The company specialized in bespoke web-based software solutions for businesses, mainly. They sold their shares in Xibis in 2014 and Alexandra effectively “retired” at the age of 38. She loved the work and found it extremely gratifying and well matched to her talents. Outside of work, she has been active in her community. Alexandra volunteered regularly with a local group called Pride of the Borough that betters environments through volunteer gardening and litter picking. Up until “retirement,” she was also active on the Oadby Civic Society and the RALLY Community Action Group (which she founded). These days, Alexandra is involved in campaign work to help “Protect Our Winters,” promote climate change awareness and further the Liberal Democrats political party in the U.K. Most recently, she organized peaceful anti-racism/hatred demonstrations in a region of France, where she lives part-time and finds herself riding out the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your career or volunteer activities?
People have always been at the heart of my biggest challenges. It’s a wonderfully gratifying feeling to be able to prove your doubters and naysayers wrong, though the journey can be long and fraught depending on the task at hand. Helping other people rise up and become better versions of themselves has always been most rewarding. When they think something is impossible for them to accomplish, encouraging them to do it themselves or formulating an effective team-working strategy for all-around success can have amazing results.
Who inspired/inspires you, both professionally and personally?
Professionally, upon reflection, my husband was a big inspiration. He had firm long-term goals about the business and life he wanted to create for himself and us. He continually acted in ethical ways to achieve that. During my time at Union, I had really no idea what I wanted to do after graduation for a career. I went along for the ride, so to speak, and it’s turned out pretty well. Personally, a good friend of mine whom I met here in the French Alps has been an inspiration. A mountain adventurer, author, speaker and peace, climate and human rights campaigner, the incredible Tess Burrows has become an amazing mentor.
What advice would you offer today’s women students, not just at Union, but across the country?
- Be authentic, be yourself and learn to love who that is! Take the time to do the hard work to figure out what turns you on.
- Define and create your boundaries, and don’t let them be compromised unless you have a very good reason. Be willing to be at peace with being misunderstood by others.
- Identify the non-reciprocal and/or toxic people/relationships in your life and do your best to curate them out of your life. You will feel so much better for it!
- People will underestimate your abilities and what you can achieve. You may underestimate your abilities and what you can achieve. Prove them (and/or you) wrong.
- You most definitely can live a satisfying and happy life without having children or a dog.
What was your most formative experience at Union?
I’ve spent some time thinking about this, and trying to answer with something typically inspirational to young women. But I’m afraid this is what I’ve got and I’m owning it. My most formative experience has to be meeting (in my sophomore year), and then marrying (at the start of my senior year), my British husband. He had initially come over on a full-year exchange program. He graduated from his U.K. university a year ahead of me and we decided, “we must be together—but if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.” As his tourist visa was running out, we decided to elope. We got hitched by the mayor of Schenectady, with a handful of Union friends as witnesses.
Whilst enjoying very much studying the geological sciences, I had zero clue what I wanted to do after college and what could possibly be a good career path. Six months after graduating, we found ourselves moving to the U.K. and starting up a business together. And so it went!