Graduate Ceremony

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President Gloria Larson and Jorge Moran Address the Graduates

Jorge Moran Address

Good afternoon. Thank you, President Larson, Chairman Manfredi, members of the board, faculty, graduates, families and friends.  Thank you for welcoming me here today.

As you can imagine, it is an honor for a simple banker like me to be asked to speak at such an important event — and especially by someone as accomplished as President Larson, someone who has distinguished herself in not one, but several careers — in law, business, philanthropy, public service and academia. Thank you very much for inviting me here, President Larson, to be a part of this very special day.

I am deeply honored to receive today from the University an honorary doctor of commercial science degree. 

Accepting this honor in the company of more than 700 brilliant individuals from 39 countries is quite humbling. I am so impressed with all of you who are today receiving advanced degrees from the Bentley Graduate School of Business.

So, congratulations!

Your academic achievements today make it clear that you will play a dynamic role in the world.  Indeed, many of you have already distinguished yourselves in various careers. 

I am sure that many of you are smarter than me, taller than me, and no doubt, younger and better looking!

So what advice can I — a simple banker, father and family man — give to help inspire you in the years to come?

To prepare for this event, I spent several hours reading strong commencement speeches. I learned that most of them try to convey the same simple message:

“Look to the future with optimism.”

Today I’m not going to be very unique. I’ll talk about the same idea. At this time in your life, on a day like this, your future is the most valuable thing that you have, so let me share with you some of the lessons from ‘my past.” It took me time to learn them and they are key in my life as a banker, as a husband as a father, as a friend. Let me point out only three of them that I wish someone had told me when almost 30 years ago I was seated like you at an event like this.

First: Don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of failing, don’t be afraid of leaving your zone of comfort, but first and foremost, don’t be afraid of facing your fears.

Second: Don’t walk alone. Don’t work alone. Don’t dream alone.

Third: Deliver on your commitments and honor your word. Don't disappoint those who place trust in you.

PLEASE DON’T BE AFRAID TO FACE YOUR FEARS.

A month ago the city of Boston was brutally hit by evil. Evil has multiple faces. In the case of the Boston events it showed most of them. But the way in which the city responded was amazing. Less than a week after the event, the streets were crowded and the city was full of life again. It was clear that all of us feared for our lives. But the city, the country, found enough strength to face that fear, because courage is not the absence of fear, but the strength to face it. That’s why Boston is so strong.

I was raised in a city similar to Boston, Valladolid, in Northern Spain. The city has a long and dramatic history as the capital of the Kingdom of Castile and the Spanish empire. Every tourist that visits Valladolid stops by the home of Christopher Columbus, where he lived and died in the years after his trips to the New World. When I was a little boy I used to play hide-and-seek around the gardens of the Columbus house. And playing around his house, I learned quite a few things about him which have become a constant in my life.

I learned that where there is a will there is a way.

Columbus was an entrepreneur. He kept fighting for years until he got enough financial and social support from private and public investors to back his quest. But finally he got it. I learned that, of course, he had fears about his quest. But those fears couldn’t kill his entrepreneurial spirit. He knew things were not going to be easy. He had doubts not only about the success of his project but also how wise that decision was. But he was not afraid of having so many doubts. He faced them.

Playing in the gardens of his home I read a quote from Columbus that marked my life forever: “You will never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to leave your own shore.”

I have lived in many countries and worked for different companies. I have restarted my career several times, looking for new shores constantly. When I joined Santander Bank years ago, I learned that this spirit was also part of the DNA of this bank.

Santander was founded 150 years ago in a small city of Spain.

Since then, it has never been afraid of leaving its home to explore and grow in new markets. Santander and I both did so multiple times. As soon as we have success in a market we start to look to a new shore. That’s why Santander has become one of the leading banks in countries as diverse as Brazil, Germany, Poland, Spain, Mexico, Chile, UK and soon to be in the United States. In all these cases the task was not easy. It was much easier to stay at home, keeping teams on our shore. But if you want to grow, both as a corporation and as person you can’t forget Columbus’ words:

“You will never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to leave your own shore.”

And remember, you can’t reach the other shore if you are alone.

So, my second lesson is — don’t work alone, don’t live alone, don’t dream alone. Human beings have been improving and stepping up since the dawn of the times. All big achievements, all big strides have been made when people team up.

My kids love movies about heroes who work alone. Hollywood movies are full of them. But, believe me, they are just movies. Those fake heroes could not survive a single minute alone in the real world. NO WAY.

My life, perhaps similar to yours, has been full of ups and downs. There have been some successes and a lot of failures. In both instances, I have always needed people beside me.

Yes, not only have I needed help and support to succeed, I also needed it when I failed. Sharing the root cause of a failure is the first step to success.

Nowadays, I’m experiencing the most exciting time of my whole professional career as president and CEO of Sovereign | Santander.

Since Santander acquired Sovereign Bank, my team has been able to achieve unthinkable goals in record time. They have been able to overcome some of the worst economic environments and greatest challenges that I have personally ever faced in my life.

Together they have turned around a bank which was in a very tough position. They have turned it into one of the best capitalized banks in the US and one of the strongest in this market. And they did it because they worked together. And in some ways they, we, dream together. Dreaming to make Sovereign-Santander not only the strongest and healthiest bank but also the best bank for our customers and stakeholders in the US.
I spend most of my day sharing my views with my colleagues but I spend even twice as much time listening to them. Without them I’m a mediocre manager, with them, I am inspired to be the best CEO I can be.

So, the take-away is simple: Surround yourself with individuals who challenge you and inspire you. Working with these amazing professionals has given meaning to my work.

There is a motto of a British soccer team that says: “YOU NEVER WALK ALONE.”

I love it. It is inspiring and bold.

If you allow me, you should never walk alone.

It means you can count on us to help make your dreams, your ideas come true. Santander has more than 100 million customers in more than 20 different countries. It is one of the largest banks and the financial institution with the largest foot print in Latin America, and last year was awarded as the Best Bank in the World by Euromoney.

Let me tell you the secret. This team made up of 200,000 professionals who work together to help our customers achieve their dreams and move their ideas forward. Nothing is impossible if you team up with good and honest professionals. Let me give you an example very close to you: 20 years ago our Board had the vision of funding Santander Universities.

Our Chairman wanted Santander to become a reference in the higher education world. At that point in time Santander didn’t have a single agreement with any college. Today Santander partners with more than 1,000 universities on five continents — from China to Brazil, from Ghana to Russia and from Chile to the U.S.

But Santander didn’t work alone to undertake this impressive task. Hundreds of college presidents, deans, provosts and students worked with us to build a unique project that has given support to more than 120,000 students and faculties around the world.

Leaders such as President Larson who sees in this project something other than pure financial support, they see a team.

And my final lesson:

“Work hard to not disappoint those who trust you.”

Trust is a priceless asset in good times and bad.

As I said when I began my remarks, I’m not the smartest person at this event, But whatever success I have, relates to one simple word: TRUST.

Before I married my wife, Concha, her friends wondered why a beautiful and smart woman like her was making her life with a guy like me. I guess that many of them keep wondering!!! When I asked her, she answered that she wanted to stay with me because she trusts me. Since that day, my first thought every morning is to be worthy of her trust.

One of the best friends of Mark Twain, the British writer George MacDonald said: “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” It seems that my wife shared this thought about trust with Mr. MacDonald.
Over the years when my bank gave me interesting new roles to do they said the same thing: “we trust you.”

If you spend your career and your life meaning what you say and honoring your word, I cannot guarantee you will get everything you want but I can promise you one thing-- you will be successful. Because if you look at yourself in the mirror and trust the person you see, that is the definition of success.

This is why I believe that in the world of finance as in all relationships, trust is a priceless asset.

Every Monday morning at 6.30 am (sorry Carlos and Kathy for that) I meet my staff to review the major matters of the week ahead. Every Monday I ask them the same questions “Are we delivering on our commitments? Are we fulfilling the expectations of our team members and customers? Every Monday, every day we have to step up our efforts to ensure our customers, team members and shareholders trust us.

If you take trust for granted you will fail. Trust is fragile and you have to bolster it every single minute.

Trust is not a gift. You have to work hard to build it and to retain it.

This afternoon there are a lot of people around you (parents, grandparents, partners and friends) that are going to give you their support and courage forever, simply because they trust you.

Don’t let them down! Don’t let yourselves down!

I know my words might not change your lives. This was not my purpose. But, in the years ahead — as you move through your careers — through your lives, you will face setbacks and disappointments. When you have doubts about your abilities, when you wonder how to keep moving forward, I hope you will remember the lessons that I have shared with you today:

• Don’t be afraid of failing, and don’t be afraid of facing your fears.
• Don’t walk alone, don’t work alone, and most importantly, don’t dream alone.
• And finally, always be trustworthy.

Thank you and good luck to all of you!