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Graduation 2002
© Nathan Mandell

A total life change
Graduation ’02 celebrates achievements and embraces challenges

Full-time Graduation

Dean Dipak Jain
Full Text

Karl Schmeders
Professor of the Year

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Laura Smith,
President of the GMA

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The messages delivered by this year’s commencement speakers emphasized both compassion and competition, from-the-heart idealism and from-the-hip realism. Each message provided its particular leadership and living insights to more than 1,000 Kellogg School full-time and TMP graduates who, along with their family and friends, convened on June 22 in Welsh-Ryan Arena on the Evanston campus. All told, some 5,000 people were in attendance.

Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain offered graduates his advice before Sumner M. Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom, delivered the main commencement address.

Jain assessed some of the challenges faced by the business world in the wake of Sept. 11 and the market downturn, saying the events of last year had “transformed our lives and our assumptions” about the world. He also emphasized that these challenges had brought the Kellogg School community together in an effort to seek solutions and offer support to one another. “We have flourished together,” said Jain.

The dean highlighted leadership lessons the graduates learned at Kellogg and noted how they had undergone several transformations over the years since beginning their graduate management education. Each of these transformations, Jain said, resulted in new growth and challenges. He described the commencement itself as “a total life change.”

Sumner Redstone  
Full-time graduation keynote speaker, Sumner M. Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom  

Jain shared some of his own advice with the audience, reminding the graduates to “live vigorously and compassionately” while striving for excellence in everything they do. He also told them to retain their humility and work hard to develop their full potential, as well as the potential of friends and colleagues Redstone spoke about his climb to the top ranks of the media world, and about the hurdles he faced along the way. He then noted the important advantages a Kellogg School degree provided the graduates who might face similar difficulties, and reminded them that the job market they now faced “is not just bleak…it’s a cold shower.”

“An MBA degree does not confer superpowers. It is not the key to the front door of paradise,” Redstone said. “For years, hoards of MBAs have flocked to management consulting and Wall Street and Silicon Valley. “Some were motivated by genuine passion. Most were lured, however, by the promise of instant wealth.”

He said that recent economic and political events provided an opportunity for the students to reflect on their true goals and motivations, “to look harder at where [they] go from here…and why.”

Redstone balanced his sober assessment of the marketplace by saying that the graduates’ decision to pursue a Kellogg education was “the best decision” they may ever make, saying that the Kellogg MBA represented “an extremely valuable toolkit.”

Among the tools Kellogg has provided its graduates, said Redstone, is the ability to think analytically and appreciate frameworks — key skills for corporate leaders today. Nevertheless, he was quick to remind graduates that ultimately “you can’t pitch pedigree, you have to pitch you.”

  Phil Condit
Boeing Co. chairman and CEO Phil Condit was the keynote speaker at the EMP graduation.
Redstone concluded by advising the graduating class to “live dangerously” and told them that, in his estimation, “winning is everything.”

“While you arrived here knowing how to take a chance, you leave here knowing how to take the right one,” he stated. “Trust your gut. Be a risk taker.”

The Kellogg School’s Executive Masters’ Program (EMP) also celebrated its commencement a week earlier, on June 15, in Pick-Staiger Auditorium. EMP-50 and 51 received their MBA degrees and listened as Boeing Co. chairman and CEO Phil Condit delivered an address that stressed the importance of lifelong learning and risk-taking tempered by insight. Condit quoted from Theodore Roosevelt and encouraged the graduates to “dare greatly” and “be engaged” in an effort to solve problems.
— MG

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University