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Portrait of Hanifee GGreetings and welcome to the 102nd and 103rd Cohorts of Kellogg’s Executive MBA Program!

While many people around the world are still finalizing their New Year’s resolutions, I know it’s with great excitement that you’re all immersed in the very beginning stages of what will be a fantastic journey as students in Kellogg’s Executive MBA program.

Starting the New Year in an intense learning environment takes a lot of courage and a tremendous amount of sacrifice. Based on the students that just graduated in December — and current students you have already met — we’re confident that you will find the experience rewarding in many ways.

So, while you may expect me to encourage you to “study hard!” and “work hard!”, instead I’d like to share with you some thoughts from Robert DeChellis EMP 94, a recent graduate. In his graduation speech, Robert asked his classmates for their thoughts on what they had taken away from the program. .

As you move through the next days of orientation, weekends and months, consider part of Robert’s graduation speech:

“It was summed up wonderfully in one of your comments that, ‘… our classmates are interested in contributing to society in meaningful and profound ways — not just maximizing his or her own stake in the world.’ But above all, what your comments confirmed for me is that Kellogg offered you a new perspective that has now led you to living a life guided by gratitude.”

My advice is to push yourself and your classmates, but also to enjoy the ride. Look for opportunities to thank those who make it possible for you to be here and help you to grow. After all, our program ­­— really your program — will be made better and stronger by how you develop as a leader, and how you make a difference along the way, and well after you graduate.

Greg Hanifee, associate dean of executive MBA programs, directs the Evanston and Miami EMBA programs and Kellogg’s Global EMBA Network. He brings to Kellogg more than 25 years of international management experience in telecommunications, consulting and higher education.