A 'genuine and earnest' desire to be helpful paves the path toward greatness, Campbell Soup CEO Douglas Conant '76 tells graduates
6/28/2011 - A gloriously sunny blue-skies day provided the perfect setting for the June 17 convocation ceremony for the 2011 graduates of Kellogg’s Full-Time and Part-Time programs.
Dean Sally Blount ’92 encouraged the graduates to pause and fully appreciate the moment with their family and friends. Sharing that she had been unable to attend her own Kellogg graduation, she noted that this was her first such ceremony at Ryan Field, and said she was grateful for this second life chance. She advised the graduates to be open to life’s surprises as well as to the power of gratitude as they moved forward as Kellogg alumni.
Convocation speaker Douglas Conant ’76, chairman and CEO of Campbell Soup Co., described two traits of great leadership — helping and honoring others — that he urged the class to strive for every day.
“The difference between good and great in the business world is determined by the mindset you bring to the work,” he said. “If you bring a genuine and earnest ‘How can I help?’ mindset, you will amazingly find ways to be helpful, your contributions will be valued, and you will be on the path to greatness.”
Conant credited an outplacement professional who guided him through a difficult period in his career with helping him to develop this outlook. This mentor taught him that the “soft stuff” in business often matters most in enrolling others to help an enterprise succeed. Conant advocated being tough-minded on standards yet always tender-hearted with people. And he counseled the graduates to be alert to mentors who may unexpectedly enter their lives.
“Learn from them and grow with them,” he said. “They will help you transform your executive life as you endeavor to help and honor the people with whom you work.”
Professor Florian Zettelmeyer
, whom the students had recently voted the 2011 L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year
, stressed the importance of effective communication when seeking to make a difference. The John L. and Helen Kellogg Professor of Marketing shared that clear messaging is simply compelling storytelling. “So go out, do good things, tell good stories, then come back and tell us what you’ve done,” he said. “We will miss you.”
Zach Hollander ’11, outgoing president of the Kellogg Student Association, also spoke at the convocation. Hollander said there was one word that has defined his Kellogg experience: pride.
“I am proud to be good enough to be in the company of people I aspire to be more like,” Hollander said. “I have a Kellogg MBA now and so do you. I can’t wait to see what we will do. Now let’s do Kellogg proud!”