Kraft Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld encourages graduates to take risks and be true to themselves
Cameras flashed as Kellogg’s Class of 2010 filed into Northwestern’s Welsh-Ryan arena on June 19, exchanging waves and smiles with proud family members and friends.
As the graduates prepared to embark on their lives as Kellogg alumni, Kraft Foods Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld offered a few words of advice.
“Tune out the noise, and follow your heart,” she urged the Class of 2010. She also warned against timidity. “Don’t be afraid to take risks,” she said.
In her convocation address, Rosenfeld provided the graduates with a “recipe” for a successful career, sharing broad guidelines and practical advice as well as insights from her own career and life. Beginning with a theme that resonated throughout the ceremony, Rosenfeld encouraged the graduates to be true to themselves as they pursue their careers.
She also urged them to follow the golden rule, pointing out that it is an essential element of good business. “The reality is that nice guys and gals can finish first if you simply treat others the way you would want to be treated — with respect, dignity and candor,” she said.
In closing, Rosenfeld counseled the graduates to take their time with their careers in the years ahead. “You will have many jobs … all of them opportunities to learn and to grow,” she said. “In time it will all weave together to create a tapestry you simply can’t see today, but I promise you, it will be beautiful,” she added.
David Besanko, the Alvin J. Huss Professor of Management and Strategy, also spoke of the value of a rewarding career built over time. Besanko, whom the graduates recently voted the L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year, told the audience that he was “blessed” to have followed his calling as a teacher. “Never give up the search for the unique way in which you can contribute to the world,” he advised the graduates. He assured them that they were “up to the task.”
Interim Dean Sunil Chopra sounded a similar note, counseling the graduates to “lead with your core strengths” while considering “how your contributions fit into broader contexts.” He also encouraged them to continue the friendships they developed at Kellogg.
Outgoing Kellogg Student Association President Bryan Law also spoke to the class, reminiscing about some of the expectations they had had of Kellogg. He also pointed out some of the unexpected benefits of the economic downturn.
Law argued that the challenging economy has forced the Class of 2010 to become stronger, pursue passions and build deeper relationships. “We have been provided with the tools to weather the storm,” Law said of the overall Kellogg experience.