Bentley University Graduates Urged to Define Their Own Success and Embrace Life’s Unexpected Lessons
Liberty Mutual Chairman and CEO David H. Long challenged graduates at Bentley University’s 98th annual undergraduate commencement ceremony to define success on their own terms and pay attention to life’s unplanned but important moments.
“Life is unexpected,” said Long. “Make the master plans, but hold them loosely and let the quiet whispers of life guide your steps.”
Approximately 8,000 people attended the ceremony, which was held on May 20, 2017, in Waltham, Mass., and marked the centennial anniversary of Bentley’s founding in 1917.
Long, who emigrated from working-class Liverpool, England, to attend college in upstate New York, shared details of his own transition from shoveling gravel at $5 per hour after college to leading Liberty Mutual, a Fortune 100 company with operations in 30 countries.
“Today I am a CEO, but that doesn’t define me any more than shoveling gravel did,” he said. “It doesn’t define who I am or what I value or how I choose to behave. It may tell you what I’ve achieved, but it won’t tell you who I’ve become.
“You will need to decide for yourself what your definition of success will be, in your own mind and in your own heart,” Long advised the 1,040 graduates. “Define and find success on your own terms and, in pursuit of those big things, press into the small and unexpected moments with all the might you can muster.”
Long received an honorary doctor of commercial science degree at the ceremony.
At a separate commencement ceremony for graduate students later on Saturday, Micho Fernandez Spring, chairwoman of the Global Corporate Practice and New England region of Weber Shandwick, encouraged the nearly 700 students to use their business skills and training to improve the lives of others.
Referencing a public sector “paralyzed by gridlock and dysfunction,” Spring called on graduates to become problem-solvers. “Business—transformed by technology, disruptors and entrepreneurs—is emerging as an engine of unprecedented progress, innovation and collaboration on some of our toughest issues,” Spring told students at the 42nd commencement for Bentley’s McCallum Graduate School of Business. “It is for you to better perfect capitalism so that it benefits more people.”
Spring, a native of Cuba whose family immigrated to the United States after Fidel Castro came to power when she was 9, urged graduates to be revolutionary business leaders. “The great challenges of human destiny today depend on global business leadership,” she said. “One that embraces a broader sense of responsibility; one that commits itself not just to customers but to culture, not just to profits but to purpose, not just within businesses but beyond borders; one that rejects the compartments that divide our lives in favor of values that inspire them.”
Spring encouraged the graduates to keep values at the core of what they do. “Disruptive business models and technological innovation are not enough,” she said. “They must be anchored in values, purpose, and a humane and empathetic approach to the world in which you work.”
At the ceremony, Spring received an honorary doctor of commercial science degree.
ABOUT THE GRADUATES
Undergraduate degrees were awarded to 1,040 students, including 1,027 bachelor of science degrees and 13 bachelor of arts degrees. (The figures include degrees conferred on Oct. 28, 2016, Feb. 24, 2017, and May 20, 2017.)
Graduate degrees were awarded to 687 students, including six doctoral degrees, 457 master of science degrees, 159 master of business administration degrees, six dual MS/MBA degrees, and 59 certificates to 687 graduate students. (The figures include degrees and certificates conferred on Oct. 28, 2016, Feb. 24, 2017, and May 20, 2017. Students may earn multiple degrees and certificates so may be counted more than once.)
FACULTY AND STUDENT AWARDS
The Gregory H. Adamian Award for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Associate Professor of Accountancy Tracy Noga and to Leonard Pepe, adjunct lecturer in accountancy. Joni Seager, Maurice E. Goldman Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the Excellence in Scholarship Award. The Joseph M. Cronin Award for Excellence in Academic Advising was given to Traci Abbott, lecturer in English and media studies.
Undergraduate students Jeffrey Allan Molgano and Emily Rose Niditch won the Professor Robert J. Weafer Award for Undergraduate Academic Excellence. Graduate students Carl Michael Begin, Shauna Riane Fumicello and Vanessa Alexis Weigel won the Professor E. William Dandes Award for Graduate Academic Excellence.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS
David H. Long joined Liberty Mutual in 1985 and has held positions in the company’s International Operations, Commercial Markets, Underwriting and Financial, and Mergers and Acquisitions divisions. His guiding philosophy, “never get comfortable,” has given Liberty Mutual claim to $39.6 billion in revenue, more than 50,000 employees and 900 offices worldwide. But his favorite investment, by far, is in people. Long has spent a career recruiting talent across the lines of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin. He has cultivated a workplace culture that values diversity, fosters mutual respect, and welcomes good ideas from every business sector. He has also grown Liberty Mutual’s philanthropic giving by an average of 18 percent annually since becoming CEO.
Micho Fernandez Spring leads Weber Shandwick’s Global Corporate Practice and chairs the company’s New England region. Her practice focuses on enabling corporate clients to use communications to support their business strategies, enhance and protect their reputation, and respond to public policy challenges. As a government, civic and business leader, Spring has helped shape public debate on numerous issues in Boston and beyond. On multiple occasions she has been named one of the “20 Most Powerful Women in Boston” by Boston Magazine. In 2014 Spring was named to the Boston Business Journal Power 50 list and, under her leadership, in 2015 Weber Shandwick ranked first on the Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts by The Boston Globe Magazine and The Commonwealth Institute.