MBA Convocation 2010

Ed RobertsProfessor Edward Roberts served as the distinguished speaker at the 2010 MIT Sloan MBA Convocation.
View a photo slideshow of Convocation 2010 >> (Photos: Vadim Volkov)

On June 3, 2010 members of the MBA and LGO classes of 2010 and their families gathered in Kresge auditorium to mark the completion of their degrees at the second annual MBA Convocation. The event was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the graduates’ time at MIT Sloan and anticipate all that the future may hold for their careers and their lives. The Convocation festivities included speeches by David C. Schmittlein, John C Head III Dean; Christiana Obiaya, MBA ’10; and distinguished alumni speaker Edward Roberts, MIT, SB, SM ’58, Electrical Engineering, SM ’60, Management, PhD ’62, Economics, David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology.

The true value of an MBA

Cited for her thoughtful and involved leadership, Christiana Obiaya, was chosen by her peers to give the Convocation’s student address. Obiaya began her remarks by pointing out that the class of 2010 attended business school while the economy was going through the most abrupt and dramatic transformation since the Great Depression. She then asked her fellow graduates to consider the true meaning of their education. “What is the value of our MBA from MIT Sloan? Has the value of the MBA changed or even collapsed?” For Obiaya, the answer lies in three powerful gifts the School bestows on all its graduates: “A holistic approach to problem-solving that will help us innovate beyond the status quo; a tight community of talented and diverse people whose spirit cannot be matched; and an acute awareness of the power we have to improve the world.”

Obiaya also discussed her peers’ impressive accomplishments in a wide range of fields, and recalled a number of exciting and often funny experiences they shared as a community.

She also spoke of the deep responsibility the graduates all share as future leaders, and expressed her firm belief that they would all move on to help make the world a better place. “Knowing the passion and intelligence inherent to our class,” she said, “and knowing the gifts that MIT Sloan has given us, there is no group of people in which I have more pride and confidence.”

In closing she encouraged the graduates to use the gifts MIT Sloan has given them to address the issues of this critical time, and reminded them of the opportunities that await each and every one of them. “Out of the trauma of the recent global crisis,” she said, “we are now in an extraordinary position to create change that we couldn’t have five years ago.”

Words of advice

Following a musical interlude by Marie No, MBA ’10 and Alexander Stevenson, MBA ’10, Dean David Schmittlein addressed the graduates, encouraging them to take time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities they will face after they leave the School. He also thanked the MIT Sloan staff for their hard work and support before introducing the distinguished alumni speaker, Professor Ed Roberts, who imparted to the graduates four important lessons he learned in the many years he has spent at MIT since he first arrived as a 17 year-old freshman.

Rule number one, he said, is to “follow a leader.” Discussing three important mentors (Jay Forrester, Don Marquis, and Bob Solow) who guided and inspired him throughout his career, Roberts encouraged the graduates to find someone they look up to who will guide them similarly.

Rule number two, is to “follow your dreams.” Looking back at the incredible success of the MIT Management of Technology Program, and the MIT Entrepreneurship Center (both of which he was instrumental in founding), as well as the less successful masters concentration in Health Management, which he developed earlier in his career, Roberts spoke of the importance of following one’s heart, telling students to “move forward vigorously and with commitment to that for which you have a real passion.”

With rule number three he encouraged students not to try to go it go it alone. Explaining that companies founded by teams are much more likely to succeed than those founded by single people, he encouraged the graduates to seek partnerships in all areas of life.

And the final rule was to “say thanks.” Observing the power of a simple thank you, he advised graduates not only to thank their subordinates, their bosses and colleagues, but also the institutions that have helped them along the way.

Following Professor Roberts’ speech, Dean Schmittlein returned to the stage to present him with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Leadership for his exemplary contributions to the School.

A Welcome into the Alumni Community

Next Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates introduced Veena Jayadeva, Ariel Santos, and Chris Walti, the new class officers. They each expressed their gratitude and commitment to the School and then were welcomed into the alumni community by members of the first, tenth , twenty-fifth , and fiftieth Sloan reunion classes: Genevieve Lydstone, MBA ‘09, Salvador Paiz, MBA ‘00, Hunt Lambert, SM ‘85, and Professor Ed Roberts.

After each received a replica Brass Rat as a globally recognizable symbol of their new status, the officers presented their class gift of $250,000 to the Dean. Citing the hard work of the class gift committee, Veena Jayadeva said the check was a token of their appreciation for the School. “It is an example of the culture of giving back that we hope will continue, in its various forms, in the years to come as alumni.”

The festivities ended with Dean Schmittlein’s reminder to graduates that they will always be part of the alumni community. He expressed his pride and excitement for them, and then, echoing the sentiments of Professor Roberts, he asked them all to stand, turn around and thank their families and friends.

The Ceremony was followed with a reception at the Skywalk in the Prudential Center, allowing staff, faculty, families and graduates to celebrate their achievements and hard work over the past two years.