Thursday, May 29, 2014 at 1am

Harvard Business School & Sheryl Sandberg View Big Picture: MBA News

Harvard Business School & Sheryl Sandberg View Big Picture: MBA News main image

Harvard Business School Class Day Celebration, held on Wednesday May 28, was marked by the attendance of some 900 soon-to-be MBA graduates and featured a speech by Sheryl Sandberg, current chief operating officer of Facebook, an HBS MBA alumna and two-time speaker at the Harvard Business School Class Day Celebration.

In her speech, Sheryl Sandberg cites honesty with oneself and the ability to accept feedback and criticism as essential professional skills, but regards the ability to see hard truths and the courage to speak out essential qualities for leadership in business – placing particular emphasis on the subjects of gender inequality and diversity in the workplace.

“Gender inequality hurts men along with women. Racism hurts whites along with minorities, and the lack of equal opportunity hurts all of us from realizing our true potential,” said Sandberg.

She urged the current generation of Harvard Business School graduates to look at the bigger picture and take up roles of leadership in business, something she feels she may not have done enough of. “The first time I spoke out about what it was like to be a woman in the workforce was less than five years ago. That means for 18 years – from where you sit to where I stand – my silence implied that everything was OK….you can do better than I did,” Sheryl Sandberg said. Watch her speech in full below:

The role of leadership in business

As well as announcing four faculty awards the event also featured speeches from current and former graduating MBAs. Casey Gerald, graduating MBA from the class of 2014 and Salman Khan, alumnus of the class of 2003, delivered keynote addresses and student co-presidents for 2014, Sarah Arora and Jordan Strebek, were included among the speakers.

These speeches expanded on Sheryl Sandberg’s theme, regarding the role of leadership in business. Co-presidents Sarah Arora and Jordan Strebek, provided stirring words when they emphasized that “leadership is found more often in the small and actionable things people do with good hearts and an intention to serve others. The most impactful leaders serve others wholeheartedly, often quietly, without pretense, pride or any hope of recognition”.

Meanwhile, Casey Gerald’s experiences with MBAs Across America, a non-profit that connects entrepreneurs and MBAs, saw him undertake an 8000 mile journey across the country. He too stressed the importance of commitment to a higher goal as a key element for leadership in business, “[through our work with MBAs across America] we saw the signs for hope in entrepreneurs who were on the front lines of change. They showed us that the new ‘bottom line’ in business is the impact you have on your community and the world around you – that no amount of profit can make up for purpose,” Gerald said.

Salman Khan had studied two degrees at MIT before coming to Harvard Business School to further expand his education business, and also stressed the importance of such qualities, “When you surrender yourself to an idea or principle bigger than yourself - regardless of the field - your soul will feel nourished and the universe will work in your favor,” said Khan.

Tags used in this blog post