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  • [MUSIC]

  • [APPLAUSE] >> Please be seated.

  • Graduates, Mary Bara, honored guests, Faculty, staff,

  • family, and friends, welcome to the 2016 graduation

  • ceremony at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business.

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> What does your graduation signify?

  • As you know, studying at the GSB means so

  • much more than mastering the concepts of management,

  • it is as much about personal transformation.

  • As you sit before us eager to receive your diplomas,

  • I encourage you to think about how you have changed And

  • grown, during your time here.

  • Your graduation today, celebrates all that you have done and

  • become, and your readiness to have a dramatic and

  • positive impact on the organizations you will lead, manage or

  • found and through those organizations, the communities they serve.

  • What you have accomplished at the GSP, you have not accomplished alone.

  • You've learned and received help, guidance, mentorship and

  • support from many quarters, all of which are represented here, today.

  • First, you're sitting shoulder

  • to shoulder with your classmates, as you have throughout your time here.

  • Think how much you've learned from one another in squads, clubs,

  • study trips small group dinners, talk,

  • touchy feely, or just in quiet conversation together.

  • You forged bonds here that will become lifelong friendships,

  • which will nurture and sustain you in the years ahead.

  • Take a moment to show your appreciation for one another.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> Sitting behind me on the stage

  • is a group of faculty, who represent

  • the more than 200 tenure line faculty and

  • practitioners, who have been your teachers,

  • coaches, mentors, study trip companions,

  • career advisers, and so much more.

  • I would ask the faculty to stand so

  • that your students can express their appreciation.

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> And at various locations

  • throughout the amphitheater,

  • our staff from the MBA, MSX and

  • PhD programs, without their

  • tireless efforts on behalf of all of us,

  • none of us would be celebrating today.

  • I ask the staff to stand, if they are not already standing.

  • Wherever they are and be recognized.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> I have left the most important for

  • last, each of you has been

  • supported by family and friends,

  • as you will be throughout your lives.

  • They provided encouragement, validation, love, and

  • yes, in many cases, financial support as well.

  • While we will hand the diplomas to you, you know that in parenthesis

  • after your name, belong the names of those who have nurtured you and

  • supported you along the way.

  • This is your opportunity to stand and say thank you to your friends and

  • family, who are here to celebrate your accomplishments with you.

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> Our mission is

  • different from that most business schools.

  • Our focus is on transformation,

  • we are privileged to be the most selective business school in the world.

  • >> [APPLAUSE].

  • >> In making our selections, we try to pick the highest potential young men and

  • women, and to provide them with an education

  • that will enable them to go on to live lives of impact and meaning.

  • I hope that this has been a transformative experience for you and

  • that you have become infected by the GSB's lofty ambitions for

  • you and that you will indeed take this education, and

  • your desire to have an impact out with you.

  • I recently returned from East Africa, where I'd gone for the opening for

  • our new seed center in Nairobi.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> I love being in Africa,

  • but one of the things it so clearly reminds me of

  • is how many people in the world live in very dire circumstances.

  • And let's not kid ourselves that the difference between where we sit today and

  • people with exactly the same talents

  • in the slums of Kibera is entirely of our own making.

  • Each of us has helped along the way and has been a recipient of good fortune,

  • whether by birth or the assistance of others, with that comes

  • a responsibility to make the most of the opportunities that we have been given.

  • It has become my custom to send you off with three wishes that I have for

  • you in your future.

  • Here are my hopes for the class of 2016.

  • First, do not be confused about what really matters.

  • It is the most important relationships in your life, that give it meaning.

  • Make sure that you nurture them.

  • They will sustain you in the good times and the bad.

  • Second, be a lifelong learner.

  • Life is a marathon, not a sprint.

  • Life expectancy is going up, and you will likely want to work for a very long time.

  • So settle in for a long journey and constantly invest in your self

  • knowledge and capabilities, both professional and personal, so

  • that you're increasingly well equipped for the years that still lie ahead.

  • Finally, let me note that at a recent 30th GSB reunion, 82% of the class showed up.

  • I want you to reflect on that for a moment, 82%.

  • So look around, make this

  • group of people an important part of your life for the rest of your life.

  • Stay connected to one another and to us.

  • Our graduation speaker today is an alumni,

  • who embodies these values while leading one of the largest and

  • most important companies in the world, General Motors.

  • In 2015,

  • she was ranked first on Fortune's list of the 50 most powerful women in business.

  • And just this week, she was named as number five on

  • the Forbes list of the most powerful women in the world.

  • As well as number one on their list

  • on their list of the most powerful women in business

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> Mary Barra graduated from

  • the Stanford GSB with an MBA in 1990.

  • She was an Arjay Miller Scholar and I'm so pleased that at age 100.

  • Yes, folks.

  • That's 100, that Arjay is with us today to recognize this

  • year's Arjay Miller Scholars.

  • Please give a round of applause to Arjay.

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> Apart from her two years at the GSB,

  • Mary has pretty much been all GM, all the time.

  • She started as a General Motors Institute co-op student at

  • the Pontiac Motor Division, earning a BS in electrical engineering in 1985.

  • After a variety of other roles,

  • Mary was put in charge of global product development In 2011.

  • And so, we see the fruits of her vision and leadership on the road everyday.

  • We have gotten to know Mary and her leadership very well in the last few years

  • as we have worked together on a transformational leadership program for

  • senior executives, and high potentials at General Motors.

  • We take about 35 of these incredible executives and

  • put them together with GSB faculty 5 times a year at various locations

  • around the world, culminating in a group-based action project

  • that addresses present strategic issues facing the company.

  • In this context, I've gotten to observe Mary's leadership style in person.

  • She leads like a GSPer.

  • She's self-aware, inclusive, open, direct and decisive.

  • In short, she's an iconic exemplar of the goals we had for

  • each of you in leadership labs.

  • Despite the rigors of her role, Mary and her husband, Tony make time for

  • their community.

  • As examples in 2014, they chaired the Detroit International Wine Auction,

  • raising a record $2.4 million for scholarships and community arts programs.

  • And in 2012, they chaired the Barbara Ann Karmanos Center

  • 30th Annual Dinner, raising nearly $1.7 million for

  • cancer research and Mary Feinstein for Stanford too.

  • I'm so proud to have her as a member of my advisory council while at the same time,

  • she serves on what we at the GSP like to think of as Stanford's other board,

  • the Stanford University Board of Trustees.

  • It is a pleasure to have Mary with us today.

  • Please join me in giving a warm GSB welcome to Mary Barra.

  • >> [APPLAUSE]

  • >> Dean Saloner,

  • Dean Emeritus Arajay Miller, members of the Stanford Board of Trustees and

  • the GSB advisory council, distinguished faculty and administration.

  • Honored guests, parents, family, friends.

  • And most importantly, members of the class of 2016.

  • Thank you for having me here this afternoon.

  • I am truly honored to be a part of your commencement ceremony.

  • Dean Saloner as an alumna and a member of the GSB Advisory Council, I want to thank

  • you for your significant contributions to this school and to General Motors.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> And

  • to the graduates, let me say that it seems like a lifetime ago.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> Well, that's not going to work.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> It does seem

  • like a lifetime ago when I sat where you sit today.

  • I recall very well, the promise and the excitement of commencement and

  • I am thrilled for each of you.

  • So, congratulations.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> Everything we

  • know about the class of 2016 tells us that you are one of the most accomplished and

  • diverse classes in the school's history.

  • 42% of your class are women.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> And

  • 23% are US minorities, both all time highs.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> International

  • students represent 44%, also a new high.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> In fact,

  • members of your class represent 62 different countries and

  • I got to spend some time with a few of you yesterday at a breakfast meeting and

  • I have to tell you, what I most appreciated was the diversity of thought.

  • As a class, you have previous experience in more than 300 organizations.

  • Everything from consulting and private equity to manufacturing and

  • the military, to government, education and nonprofit organizations.

  • There is no doubt that you are well-prepared and

  • well-positioned to fulfill the GSP's vision to change the world.

  • Of course, the world has changed considerably since I graduated.

  • When I graduated in 1990, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 29,000 for

  • the first time and we were all amazed with something that was being introduced

  • called the World Wide Web and there was no such thing as a smart phone or texting.

  • If you were an early adapter in 1990, you had what was called a flip phone and

  • you used it to actually make phone calls, but

  • not everything has changed since I was a student.

  • Just as it is today, Stanford was still the finest school in the world

  • with a faculty that was second to none.

  • I know this,

  • because many of you have studied with some of the same professors who taught me.

  • I'm very happy today to see Professor George Foster who

  • was my teacher for accounting.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> I'm also thrilled to

  • see Professor James VanHorne who came out of retirement last spring to teach

  • Finance 211.

  • >> [APPLAUSE] >> And what I find most remarkable is that

  • an updated textbook by the late Professor Charles Hornbrook is still used today.

  • My point is that you and I learned from the best, the people

  • who literally wrote the books and now the e-books on business management.

  • And so, it is no surprise to me that you are extremely well-prepared for

  • the road that stretches out before you.

  • But as one who has traveled some distance on that road,

  • I can also tell you what you learn here is just the beginning of what

  • you'll need to know for success going forward.

  • When I came to Stanford, I quickly learned I didn't know what I didn't know.

  • I was 26 years old.

  • I'd lived my entire life in Southeast Michigan and

  • I worked for General Motors since I was 18.

  • >From accounting to corporate culture to entrepreneurship,

  • my eyes were opened and I learned to see the world from a different perspective.

  • My experiences on this campus changed my life and accelerated my career.

  • They prepared me to manage and ultimately to lead.

  • So allow me to share four leadership lessons that I have learned since

  • graduation.

  • Lessons that have been important to me and I hope will be of some value to you.

  • First, leaders listen.

  • You are graduating from one of the finest business schools in the world.

  • Be proud of that, but also be humble and

  • know that any significant accomplishment is always a team effort.

  • It's okay to admit when you don't know.

  • It's okay to ask for help and

  • it's more than okay to listen to the people you lead.

  • In fact, it's essential.

  • Some years ago, I was asked to lead GM's Global Human Resources Function during

  • a critical time for the company.

  • I had never worked in HR before, but I was confident I could make a difference.

  • I accepted the position and I immediately began to identify areas I

  • believed that we could improve, and help the company’s performance.

  • Pretty quickly, I came to the conclusion that the company’s vacation policy was too

  • generous.

  • I was troubled by a program that allowed employees to take additional vacation days

  • beyond what they had earned by purchasing these additional days.

  • So, I propose to my staff to eliminate the program.

  • They told me it was a bad idea.

  • I argued that the program had out lead to usefulness.

  • No longer a place and are more leaner more nimble, more competitive company.

  • And so, I eliminated the program.

  • The next day, the employees nearly eliminated me.

  • >> [LAUGH] >> What I did not fully understand,

  • because I did not listen to my team was that employees purchase

  • these days to give them flexibility in their work and life.

  • What's more, employees often use these times at fractions at a time,

  • a few hours here and there.

  • So they could attend to personal matters like caring for

  • an elderly parent or attending a child's sporting even, or