Newly-minted graduates will enter a turbulent world. But that doesn’t mean they won’t survive or thrive, Peterson American Corporation President and CEO Daniel E. Sceli told members of the Eli Broad College of Business Executive MBA Class of 2019 at their recent completion ceremony.
“Know for sure that [things] will keep changing, and changing much faster,” Sceli (EMBA ’14) said at the March 10 event. “We are pressured with nationalism around the world. Geopolitics and globalism are extremely volatile … Every generation has faced challenges and they have come in many flavors and many types.”
But those generations “always found a way through them after they thought the world was falling apart, and I’m sure you will, too,” he said.
The 53rd graduating class of America’s oldest public university Executive MBA program included 109 people from 80 companies and 55 different undergraduate schools.
“We couldn’t be prouder of what you have done and what you will be doing going forward,” said Vallabh Sambamurthy, associate dean for MBA and professional master’s programs at the Broad College.
In his address, Sceli cited an old comedian in saying, “life is a very simple plot. First you’re here and then you’re not. What that really suggests to me is that what happens in between is what matters. You folks are writing those in-between chapters right now … it’s entirely up to you to make your life interesting.”
“In retirement, what do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to leave behind?” Sceli said. “Don’t wait 25 years to think about that. That story has already begun. Its pages are written each and every day.”
Many graduates of the program are writing multiple books at once. Executive MBAs, often older career professionals, take the program while still working full-time jobs and managing adult lives.
“There are people in this room trying to raise children. Manage marriages. Divorces. Teams of people at work; demanding jobs; navigating career paths. And on top of that, you are still participating in this program,” said Sara Southard, class speaker for the program’s East Lansing cohort. “You are my heroes.”
Todd Clem, who spoke on behalf of the program’s Troy cohort, was a prime example. While pursuing his degree, he performed major home renovations, got engaged and married, and took a leadership role at a new company.
“Rarely do you get those perfectly packaged moments in life where you say, ‘Yep, okay; that was definitely the right time.’ It rarely works that way,” Clem said. “You’re always going to be busy and tomorrow’s never guaranteed. Life doesn’t wait.”
Those busy students include the program’s first Detroit cohort. “There should be no fear for the future of business in Detroit,” said Lee Benjamin, speaking for his cohort.
Also at the ceremony, honored as Excellence in Teaching Award recipients were Stephen Schiestel, Ayalla Ruvio and Kirt Butler; and 21 students were recognized as Beta Gamma Sigma inductees.