BOSTON—Harvard Business School held its Class Day celebration yesterday afternoon on the lawn in front of Baker Library/Bloomberg Center before an appreciative audience of some 900 graduating MBA students and their families, friends, and special guests.
The program, chaired by Angela Jillson (MBA 2013), included keynote addresses by Brooke Boyarsky (MBA 2013) and HBS alumna Ann Moore (MBA 1978), former chairman and CEO of Time Inc., as well as the presentation of faculty awards for excellence in teaching. MBA Class of 2013 co-presidents Laura Merritt and Kunal Modi also spoke at the event, exhorting their classmates to enjoy the journey of life rather than think of it as a race to the top of a mountain. The latter approach leads to too many missed moments of enjoyment, they said. “Lets’s start our journey with the realization that [success in life] cannot always be quantified.”
Boyarsky, who graduates today with high distinction as a Baker Scholar, spoke movingly of her transformational experience at HBS – a transformation that was “not only emotional and intellectual, but also physical,” she said, noting that she had entered the School as “morbidly obese” and that she would leave it “more than one hundred pounds lighter.”
She observed that she had found the meaning of courage at HBS – from hearing classmates who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan share their combat experiences to seeing students cope with their first “cold call” in class or seek help amid a student body full of high achievers. “Every day during these two years we’ve practiced what it’s like to do something we weren’t sure we were capable of,” Boyarsky said. By doing that, people cut away the constraints that can prevent them from reaching their goals.
She also advised her classmates to show leadership in difficult situations – to take on roles where the easier alternative would be to do nothing. “That’s where you can really make a difference. We have a responsibility to do [something].” Finally, she warned her fellow students not to distract themselves from their own goals by focusing too much on the outstanding abilities and achievements of others. “As we move forward,” she concluded, “[compare yourselves] to others on the dimensions that matter – how positively we’ve affected our communities or how satisfied we are with the impact we are making through our work and our families. The amount of cash we have or the size of our house are both poor indicators of what we’ve accomplished – but they are the easiest to measure. We can do better than that.”
In her 33 years at Time Inc., Moore served in key executive positions at Sports Illustrated, Fortune, Money, and Discover magazines. She was the founding publisher of Sports Illustrated for Kids in 1989, until going to People as its publisher in 1991. Under her leadership, Time Inc. also established itself as one of the top online media companies.
Moore urged the graduating class to see teamwork as an essential ingredient in managing “complicated businesses in challenging times,” to regard trust as a powerful leadership tool (“When people trust each other, they are able to work through disagreements….If they trust their leaders, they work harder, contribute better ideas, and dig deeper than anyone has the right to ask.”), and to show courage. “I believe the mark of success is leaving a place in better shape than you found it,” she said.
Moore also challenged the graduates to get government working again and to help restore the health of public education around the globe. But these are just two of the world’s many problems, she said. People don’t have to go very far to find challenges where they can effect significant change. To illustrate that, she told the story of a successful career woman who long ago wrote to Mother Teresa, the Catholic nun who aided the sick and poor in Calcutta for many years, offering to give up her worldly possessions and move to India with her family to help. In time, Mother Teresa replied to her in a note with just four words: “Find your own Calcutta.” Moore concluded by urging all the graduates to do just that throughout their lives.
The four faculty teaching awards (two for the first-year required curriculum and two for the second-year elective curriculum), were determined by a vote of the Class of 2013. They recognize the recipients’ ability to “make magic” in the classroom and their impact on the student body. This year’s honorees were Assistant Professor Catherine S. M. Duggan and Professor J. Gunnar Trumbull, both of whom teach the required macroeconomics course Business, Government and the International Economy. Elective curriculum recognition went to Professor David A. Moss, who teaches the course Creating the Modern Financial System, and Professor and Senior Associate Dean Youngme Moon, who teaches a consumer marketing course called Different, which focuses on product differentiation.