Wake Forest University School of Business Commencement 2016
For keynote speaker Boston Scientific Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Mahoney (MBA ‘96), the venue was familiar, but his seat in Wait Chapel was completely opposite from his own graduate hooding ceremony 20 years ago. This time, he was at the podium.
“Being here is like returning home for me,” Mahoney told the graduate students, parents, family, friends, faculty, and staff members assembled in the chapel on May 15. “It’s terrific to see familiar faces on campus. A few of my past professors are still here and teaching.”
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Mahoney said his Wake Forest MBA degree gave him the confidence he needed to extend himself to new opportunities in his career – risks he might not have taken otherwise. As he reflected on his own experience, he offered examples about how his MBA education continues to have impact on his career and in his current position.
Mahoney said his exposure to group dynamics and the power of diverse teams made him appreciate how much one member can promote growth and exceed expectations. A trip to China with Professor Chuck Kennedy and fellow students opened his eyes to unique challenges and powerful opportunities in the global marketplace.
Mahoney offered this advice to the audience:
Deliver results beyond expectations. And while you’re at it, remain optimistic: “Be an energy giver, not an energy sucker. When you perform and energize others, people will want to pull you up.”
Find your passion and the industry you love. “When you’re passionate about something you will do it better.”
Pursue and embrace the tough assignments. Mahoney borrowed the words of a great songwriter. “Bob Dylan once said: ‘If you are not busy being born, you are busy dying.’” For Mahoney that means not only embracing the tough opportunities, but seeing them as opportunities to stretch yourself.
“For those who drive to lead a division, a business or aim to become a CEO, I’m here to reinforce that running a business is far more than maximizing profits and driving shareholder returns. Running a business is more about duty and responsibility: to your employees, your community, your family – yes, to your shareholders – and most of all to yourself.”
He told the graduates imagination is important; you can’t have too many friends; to find a company or leader they can admire; and most of all, choose where to work because they love it.
“Whatever you do, do it because you love it,” he said. “Don’t do it for the money.” Rewards will follow, he promised.
A crisp Monday morning set the stage for a picture-perfect day to celebrate the graduation of 499 master’s and 269 bachelor’s degree recipients from the School of Business.
In total, some 15,000 friends, family, faculty, staff, and other graduates gathered on Hearn Plaza.
In his address, President Nathan O. Hatch encouraged graduates to receive everything with gratitude. “The primary reason is that without gratitude, we have a misplaced view of the world and our place in it. It is only when we quiet the self, muting the sound of our own ego, that we can begin to see the world clearly.”
Commencement speaker Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core, shared life lessons through a story about the early life of musician Louis Armstrong, and how he improvised over his sheet music falling off the stand during a recording session. That’s how he sang the rhythmic nonsense now known as scat. Patel assured the graduates that sometimes when you improvise, great things can happen — even if the route changes.
“I’m not telling you to throw away the road map you’ve sketched for your life. I’m just saying that your liberal arts education has given you the eyes to read the road signs along the way, and the ability to change direction when the original plan goes sideways. There is something to be said for reaching the milestones you set for yourself. There’s a lot more involved in recharting your course when you miss them.”
At the Commencement ceremony, School of Business graduate hooding ceremony keynote speaker Mike Mahoney (MBA ’96) received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Investing him with the hood, was his former professor, Chuck Kennedy.
Retiring School of Business professors Umit Akinc, Bern Beatty, and Clay Hipp were honored among those from the Reynolda campus.
Congratulations to our newest alumni, who left campus prepared to help businesses create a better world.