Dean Reddy's Commencement speech
Posted 6.4.07Dean Mohan Reddy congratulated the graduates and challenged them to combine business interests with social responsibility.
Good afternoon. I am Mohan Reddy, the dean of the Weatherhead School.
Before I begin, I want to pay tribute to a former dean of the Weatherhead School who recently passed away, Dr. Theodore M. Alfred. Ted was dean of the school from 1971 to 1986. He was with us during the nascent stages of the life of our school and will always be remembered for his commitment to education and to the success of those who graduated under his leadership. I'm sure he would also have been pleased to be here today, to witness the graduation of another class of outstanding students.
To all graduates, I am honored to have the privilege of congratulating you on your achievement, and to welcome your friends and family to the Weatherhead School graduation ceremony.
Graduation speeches, I am told, have a half life of 10 minutes, and decay rapidly from there on. I promise to keep my remarks short and to the point. Please consider what I have to say as the ruminations of an educator, not a speech of an administrator.
All of you are eager to move on to what lies ahead, deeply committed to doing all that you might for a successful career. And professional success will come, sooner for some than for others, but come it will for all of you.
Along with professional success comes a growing yearning to make a difference, to be meaningful beyond the narrow confines of your work place, to have a purpose. Many of you will start to look for opportunities in your respective communities, volunteering in a wider range of social service and community building organizations. If I might be presumptuous enough to offer you a bit of advice, it would very simply be this: Start early. It will never take away from your professional aspirations -- it will only enhance your professional success.
More important, and clearly much more significant, are the growing opportunities to combine these two dimensions of who you are. There is a growing awareness in the corporate world that business interests and the social agenda do not exist in separate spheres; they do not insist on trade-offs; they mutually reinforce each other.
Look for these opportunities, create these opportunities. As an actor in the corporate sector, your ability to add to our society's well-being is magnified tenfold, even a hundred fold, compared to the efforts of an individual volunteer. The well-worn phrase "doing well, doing good" does leave the skeptics rolling their eyes. But I can promise you this, there are far fewer of these skeptics today than there were yesterday, and likely, even fewer tomorrow. Lest you dismiss my thoughts as the ranting of an academic, pining away for an idealized world, I should note that your Commencement speaker today is the CEO of a company that has demonstrated, repeatedly, the symbiotic relationship between doing well and doing good.
I do have one last thought before I bid you farewell. Management students are notorious for being consummate planners, making every effort to reduce, if not eliminate the uncertainty in their futures. Please let me remind you that unless you are traveling a road well traveled (which I sincerely hope you are not), your visibility is limited to the next turn in the road. So, please banish your plan to some remote part of your hard drive and bask in the excitement of discovery.
On behalf of the faculty and staff of the Weatherhead School, I wish you all the success in the world.