MBA Commencement: Unsolicited Advice

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on May 15, 2009

It’s the season of commencement, a time of endings and beginnings, and a lot of really smart people are putting a lot of thought into telling new MBA graduates what they want to hear, what they need to hear, what they shouldn’t hear. Among them: JP Morgan’s James Dimon at Harvard Business School (Harvard MBA Profile), Abbott CEO Miles White at Kellogg (Kellogg MBA Profile), and Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus at Wharton (Wharton MBA Profile).

Now along comes John Baldoni, author, blogger, consultant, and motivational speaker, with his own two cents. In a recent column about what he would say to the MBA class of 2009, Baldoni offers many of the usual bromides, advising graduating MBAs to be proud of their accomplishments. But he also suggest things like “check your ego,” “honor integrity,” and “respect your employees”—I guess he’s assuming that everyone at commencement will actually have a job where they can apply these rules of the road.

It seems to me that Baldoni is, in not so many words, advising the nation’s new MBAs to, well, stop being MBAs, or at least the caricature of MBAs that has dominated the business world until now. To be fair, the notion of MBAs as a group being ego-driven, honorless, and lacking respect for those below them on the food chain is a bit over the top. But whatever.

So what does everyone think of Baldoni’s advice to the MBA class of 2009?

Reader Comments


May 17, 2009 11:24 AM

Spot on. As a 1st year MBA, I've been taken aback by the sheer arrogance and self-importance of my class. Bschools suck in mediocrity and puff them up as if they are superstars but with only a superficial knowledge of anything that actually matters. Humility, Respect and Integrity are clearly not on the curriculum of any bschool these days.


May 18, 2009 2:02 AM

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June 1, 2009 4:55 PM

The world is a very different place from when you entered your program two years ago. In September 2007, the capital markets were holding steady, companies were hiring, and prospects for continued growth seemed limitless. What a difference a year or two makes. Today the capital markets have lost 40 percent of their value, companies are shedding tens of thousands of employees, and a sense of doom hangs in the air.

Comments: We did not know this already. this is what is called as offering a blinding glimpse of the obvious

You just spent two years in graduate school and shelled out a small fortune for higher education. Now you have an MBA.

Comments: Again, thank you, I am sitting in a commencement speech for my graduation and then somebody tells me now I have an MBA? Thank you again

Besides it is the admins and security guards and front-line employees who know what's really going on in companies; they spend their days meeting and greeting people.

Comments: I had to spend a huge fortune on my MBA and hope and pray for Baldoni to deliver his commencement speech so that I know what security guards do for a living and why I have to be nice to them?

Look for life in the "white spaces."....Those connections occur in the "white spaces," the undefined areas between the interconnected arrows and boxes.

Comments: white spaces? this is the kind of meaningless well-sounding phrases used by consultants who cannot say things clearly. Phrases like these do nothing for our GDP - yet people like Baldoni get paid by the hour... Companies hire leadership coaches like John, pay huge sums of money, and pass these costs on to consumer - this causes two things: inflation, and these companies become less price competitive and have to file for ch. 11

How well you manage those connections with colleagues and bosses will determine how high you climb

Comments: net working over not working -GM is where it is and Toyota is where it is - QED

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