Class of 2016, friends and family, and members of the Harvard Business School community. Good afternoon and welcome.
One of the wonderful courses in the MBA program, and one I used to enjoy teaching, is called Authentic Leadership Development. A central idea in that course is that each of us is deeply shaped by the crucible experiences in our lives—those moments of adversity that mark us for ever. I think the same thing is true for us as a group; and for the Class of 2016, a powerful crucible experience was the way your class came together to support Pedro Meira and Marcelle de Souza Goncalves Meira, and to comfort each other, during Pedro’s illness and his untimely death last fall. Like all of you, I can only marvel at Marcelle's strength and Pedro’s spirit, which shone so brightly in her Class day remarks yesterday.
Class of 2015, friends and family, and members of the Harvard Business School community. Good afternoon and welcome. Every graduating class has some quality or experience that distinguishes it, a marker by which we will remember you. The HBS Class of 2015 will forever be remembered as the class that survived the worst winter in Boston’s recorded history.
The HBS Class of 2013, family and friends, and members of the HBS community. Good afternoon and welcome. Every graduating class has something that distinguishes it, a special quality by which it is remembered. When we think of the Class of 2013, we will always remember you as a group of pioneers, as students who experienced so many firsts during your two years at Harvard Business School. You were the class that experienced our year-long celebration of the W50, marking the admission of women to our MBA program 50 years ago. You were the class that helped us launch the i-Lab, opening all of Harvard to a shared exploration of entrepreneurial ideas. And most importantly, you were the first class to experience FIELD, perhaps the most significant experiment in our MBA curriculum since HBS began using case studies almost 100 years ago.
The HBS Class of 2012, friends and family, and members of the HBS community. Good afternoon, and welcome. Class of 2012! You are the first group of MBA students to complete its entire course of study during my time as Dean. Every teacher remembers his or her first class, and while I've been fortunate to teach many wonderful classes over the years, I've been especially looking forward to sharing this moment with you.
In January 2011, I reached out to share with you a summary of the many conversations I had during my first few months as dean and to outline an emerging set of priorities for Harvard Business School that arose from them. We've come to call these priorities "the five i's:" :
I will always enjoy a special bond with the Class of 2011, as you are the first to graduate during my tenure as Dean. As I stand here today, giving this Commencement address, I have to pinch myself to believe it is actually happening. When I came to the United States in 1984 to attend graduate school — at that other noted institution in Boston on the wrong side of the river, called MIT — I have to tell you, this moment was beyond anything I could have imagined. Like some of you may have felt when you joined HBS, I was desperately hoping that I would somehow survive and not make a fool of myself among my peers.
With the new year underway, I thought it would be useful to share with you an emerging vision and set of priorities for Harvard Business School. These have been formulated following a series of discussions with the faculty, members of the School's advisory boards, other alumni, staff, new and returning students in our MBA and Doctoral Programs, Executive Education participants, Harvard University President Drew Faust, fellow deans (from within and outside Harvard), and Allston-Brighton neighbors.
I asked them their thoughts on the School:
What are the most important opportunities we face?
What makes us distinctive?
Where should we be doing more, or differently?
How are changes in the world likely to affect us?
These conversations helped me refine an early agenda for
the future as this
extraordinary institution as it enters its second century.
On 26 July, I left Boston to begin a 10 day/5 city trip around the world, with stops in London, Mumbai, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and San Francisco. I wanted to meet with some of the School's alumni as well as other business leaders and educators to hear their perspective on the opportunities and challenges facing Harvard Business School; it seemed an outside-in view would be a valuable complement to the impressions I am gathering as I talk to faculty and staff (and soon, students) here on campus. I also was keen to get a first hand view of some of the locations where we have invested in developing research centers, especially our new facility in Shanghai.
I feel a profound sense of responsibility for continuing Harvard Business School's proud legacy of groundbreaking ideas and transformational educational experiences and to be building on the strong foundation created by our predecessors over the last hundred years. I recognize that we stand at a unique moment in time, and I am energized by the challenges that lie ahead. With business education at an inflection point, we must strive to equip future leaders with the competence and character to address emerging global business and social challenges.