25 May 2017
Graduating Harvard Business School MBA Students Celebrate Class Day

BOSTON—The 930 members of the Harvard MBA Class of 2017 took their penultimate step yesterday in their two-year journey to earn a Harvard MBA by enjoying the annual Class Day Celebration in front of Harvard Business School’s iconic Baker Library | Bloomberg Center. They received their diplomas at Commencement exercises today.

Before a large and celebratory audience of parents, family, and friends, Kate Pinto, chair of this year’s Class Day Committee, introduced a program that included the presentation of Alumni Achievement Awards to six distinguished graduates and awards to four faculty members for excellence in teaching as well as addresses by student government presidents Libby Hoaglin and LaToya Marc, student speaker Andrew Cone, and distinguished speaker David Bradley (MBA 1977), chairman of Atlantic Media.

Dean Nitin Nohria welcomed all those gathered on the great lawn, enumerating what he called the “secret sauce” of an HBS education—the School’s partnership with students, the faculty’s passion for teaching, and a worldwide alumni body “who go off into the world and do extraordinary things.”

The first female duo to head the HBS Student Association, Hoaglin and Marc offered final words of advice to their constituents. “Graduating from Harvard Business School gives each of you a platform to make a difference in the world,” said Marc. “No matter where we started, we are all incredibly blessed.” Added Hoaglin, “It took effort and determination to make it to this day. But luck also had something to do with it as well. Remember this luck when you go out into the world, and make luck for someone else.” Both agreed that “No community should suffer so that another can prosper. We accept responsibility to both shareholders and stakeholders.”

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In his remarks, Andrew Cone urged his classmates to have the courage to speak their minds – something that he himself avoided, he said, when he was growing up “as a gay fifteen-year- old in the conservative Midwest.” It is important to overcome fear of being redundant or inappropriate or wrong, he stressed. “In recent years we have seen how drastically the share of voices in this country and the world at large have shifted. More people are speaking up, different people are speaking up, and in many more ways,” he continued. “And if we correctly appreciate voice as a form of value, the implications of this shift are staggering. Evermore intertwined economic and political interests affect the societies we live in, the businesses we work in, and the people we love….We must define and defend ourselves with thoughts and words and expect others to do the same.”

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Citing a decades-long Harvard University study on happiness, alumnus David Bradley reminded members of the Class of 2017 of the importance of being able to adapt to both the ups and downs of life—an undulating pattern similar to that of a radio wave. “The top of the curve is easy,” he remarked. “These are good times. Just approach them with some modesty and ‘impersonalization’ of your success.” But when faced with the inevitable setbacks at the bottom of the curve, he advised, “the worst kind of response is bitterness, hardness, denial, and paranoia. The healthiest is humor, bemusement, self-deprecation, and a sense of moving on.”

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Based on a poll of his classmates, Class Day committee member Noah Rosenberg, MD, presented teaching awards to Professor Joshua Margolis for his efforts in LEAD, the required first-year course in organizational behavior, and to the widow of the late Professor Julio Rotemberg, who taught the required macroeconomics course Business, Government and the International Economy until his death from cancer on April 2.

Second-year Elective Curriculum awards went to Professor and Senior Associate Dean Youngme Moon, who teaches Brand Strategy, and Professor Tom Nicholas, who offers the business history elective The Coming of Managerial Capitalism.


Jim Aisner