'We celebrate one of our finest days,' Dean Jain tells Class of 2007 as new graduates return to professional life strengthened by Kellogg MBA experience
Nearly 1,000 students at the Kellogg School of Management proudly made the transition to alumni on June 16 during the afternoon convocation ceremony in Welsh-Ryan Arena on Northwestern University's Evanston campus.
As a sea of purple caps and gowns poured into the venue, friends and family cheered and waved from the stands while the Millar Brass Ensemble accompanied the processional. The 973 graduates of the Kellogg Full-Time and Part-Time MBA Programs waved back, some finding loved ones with the help of their cell phones, beaming when they connected. The Class of 2007 stood and cheered when Kellogg faculty members processed to the stage, and Senior Associate Dean (Faculty and Research) Kathleen Hagerty gave the call to ceremonies, welcoming Dean Dipak C. Jain to the podium.
"Having been dean the last six years, we celebrate one of our finest days as teachers and deans to congratulate future leaders," Jain began a down-to-earth and heartfelt address. "Graduation, to me, is a day… to reflect on what we have achieved and what we will do next."
He shared with the graduates his view that life proceeds through three general stages: study, success and then roles of increased significance. Kellogg students have already begun this progression, marked by Convocation. "Now you start your journey from success to significance," said Jain.
To excel on that path, Jain reminded graduates to "embrace the excitement of intellectual curiosity" as they embark on their careers. Education is a lifelong process, a message Jain said was worth repeating, and "if you continue to learn, you will find yourself always young."
He also advised that an attitude of acceptance and compassion will carry the graduates far in life. "Whatever you are going to do post Kellogg, you will encounter situations that are not what you expected," but approaching these with an open mind will create success. Paraphrasing former NFL coach Dan Reeves, Jain told graduates that overcoming difficulties makes us better. Going hand-in-hand with that idea, Jain asked the graduates to think of life as the opportunity to make a difference. Although the world is a big place, he said, it is possible for one person to make a world of difference.
Jain asked the graduates to recognize the support they received from faculty, staff, friends and relatives. "It was their love, commitment and guidance that made this day happen," he said. "Remember that the challenge ahead of you is never greater than the force behind you."
Following Dean Jain's remarks to the Class of 2007, William D. Perez, CEO of Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company, delivered the convocation address. Perez, who became CEO in October, is the first person outside of the Wrigley family to lead the 116-year-old company. His recent position follows his role as CEO at Nike and S.C. Johnson & Son.
As Jain introduced Perez, he said that the Wrigley executive has demonstrated "Midwestern values" and a clear sense of leadership. "He tries to bring out the best in everyone," said Jain.
Perez's speech centered on the importance of "breaks" in life, both received and granted. Careers are about breaks, he said, and it was the confidence and counsel of an employer when Perez was 29 that he believes started his successful track. That opportunity was followed by another he received from Sam Johnson later in life. "The bigger the breaks," Perez said, "the more I've felt a sense of [extending opportunities] to others.
"Appreciate the breaks you get by capitalizing on them and making the most of them," he said. In return, he asked graduates to give breaks to others. "Mentoring will not be optional, but essential, and will define your success as a leader." He recommended choosing people to mentor who are worthy of trust and who have a diverse set of experiences, skills and opinions. Tapping into this diversity, he said, makes a leader and his company, employees and brand stronger. "The more I dig into my new job, the more convinced I am that our success is directly correlated to our people. Our success or failure depends on the people we keep."
In closing, Perez thanked the Kellogg School for asking him to speak. To the graduates he said, "I am energized by your accomplishments and heartened by your supporters."
After Perez's speech, Clinical Associate Professor Julie Hennessy was recognized as one of this year's two recipients of the L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year award - an honor she shared with Sergio Rebelo, the Tokai Bank Distinguished Professor of Finance - and she addressed attendees on behalf of the faculty. The graduates then received their degrees, followed by an address from outgoing Kellogg Student Association President Dan Goldman. A reception in the Joseph and Carole Levy Atrium concluded the celebration.