Kellogg World Alumni Magazine, Summer 2004Kellogg School of Management
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Graduation 2004
© Nathan Mandell
Graduation 2004

'Have the courage to lead'
2004 commencement ceremonies underscore the optimism and responsibility required by leaders

by Deborah Leigh Wood

Commencement speaker W. James McNerney, chairman and CEO of 3M, delivered solid counsel to the Kellogg School's full- and part-time graduating classes as they rejoin the business world or, as newly conferred PhDs, continue in academia.

"Building a career is not a straight line from A to B, so don't try to plan it out that way," McNerney told graduates at the 2004 commencement ceremony on June 19 at Northwestern University's Welsh-Ryan Arena. Instead, he said, "capture a mosaic of experiences. Get into a job where you lead and follow ... [where you] are the mentor and the mentored."

  Allan "Bud" Selig
© Nathan Mandell
Allan "Bud" Selig
  W. James McNerney
© Nathan Mandell
W. James McNerney

Approximately 1,030 students received master of business administration, doctor of philosophy or joint master's degrees in business and another discipline.

Touching on the recent spate of corporate scandals, McNerney advised graduates to "fight to make sure the values you bring to work are the ones you use at work. The tragedy is that some of today's leaders are fundamentally good people who can't stand the pressure."

McNerney also spoke about the importance of cultivating a good work ethic. "Have the courage to lead and the courage to fail," he said.

Kellogg School Dean Dipak C. Jain said he felt especially connected to the 2004 class, because it is the first admitted under his deanship. His speech emphasized cultivating a positive mental perspective, even when faced by challenges that might set others back.

Scott McKeon, 2004 L.G. Lavengood Professor of the Year and senior lecturer in the Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences (MEDS), showed in his address that he's a living example of someone who took the approach advocated by Dean Jain. After receiving his PhD in engineering-economics systems and being rejected by several engineering and economics institutions, McKeon applied "in desperation" to the top 20 business schools in the United States. He was hired by the Kellogg School.

"At the end of my one-year contract, a number of students wrote letters to keep me here," he said, and the administration agreed. McKeon is now in his ninth year at the Kellogg School, where he has consistently been a finalist for the Lavengood award.

One week earlier, on June 12, Kellogg also celebrated the commencement of its latest Executive MBA Program (EMP) students. The ceremony took place in the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall on the Evanston campus.

David G. Napier and father  
© Evanston Photographic
For David G. Napier '04, right, commencement included carrying on a long family tradition by wearing a gown that has been passed down over several generations in its 94-year history. Before David, 17 other family members donned the gown as they received 24 college degrees at 16 different colleges. Their names are shown sewn into the gown, held by David's stepfather Byron Brooks.

After completing two years of study, the classes of EMP-56 and EMP-57 received diplomas. EMP students continue their professional careers while enrolled in the Kellogg program.

Dean Jain offered the 143 graduating executives a challenge to remain optimistic in their work and lives, taking the responsibility for their own happiness and success. Keynote speaker Allan "Bud" Selig, commissioner of Major League Baseball, spoke in a similar vein.

"I wanted to be the next Joe DiMaggio, but I couldn't hit a curveball," Selig said. So instead, the Milwaukee native turned his love of the game into a four-decade career in baseball management.

Viewing baseball as a metaphor for life, Selig encouraged the EMP graduates to "dare to dream, sacrifice and accept social responsibility."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University