Who’s Lined up for MBA Commencement 2016? Part 2 | TopMBA.com

Who’s Lined up for MBA Commencement 2016? Part 2

By Tim Dhoul

Updated July 4, 2019 Updated July 4, 2019

Twitter’s former CEO, Dick Costolo and the CFO of Google’s new parent company, Alphabet, were among the headline speakers in the first part of our guide to those who will grace this summer’s MBA graduation (commencement) ceremonies at leading business schools in the US.

This second part features speakers who showcase the great variety of business sectors and topics covered during MBA commencement season. Leaders from the energy, technology, nonprofit consulting and sports sectors await graduating students at Dartmouth Tuck, the Kellogg School, Harvard Business School and UCLA Anderson.

Bridgespan chair and former Bain CEO at Harvard Business School

HBS MBA graduation speaker
The former CEO of Bain & Co., now chairman of nonprofit consultancy firm The Bridgespan Group, Tom Tierney, will speak at Harvard Business School’s MBA graduation ceremony – an event known as Class Day at HBS and organized by a committee of the school’s graduating students themselves. 

Tierney is an alumnus of HBS whose post-MBA career saw him join the multinational consultancy giant. So far, so normal, as Bain remains one of the US’s biggest employers of MBA graduates. However, Tierney took only three years to rise to partner level and was soon heading up its San Francisco office. In 1993, he became the company’s president and its first worldwide managing director.

The HBS alumnus stepped down as CEO of Bain in 2000, a year after cofounding The Bridgespan Group – an independent and nonprofit affiliate of Bain which would provide consulting services solely to foundations and organizations in the nonprofit sector. Today, he also serves on the boards of both eBay and the HBS Social Enterprise Initiative. Tierney ought, therefore, to be able impart Harvard Business School’s graduating class with some valuable advice from his corporate experience as well as an insight into aspects of nonprofit leadership, a subject he lectures on at both HBS and Stanford GSB.

A quarter of last year’s graduating Harvard MBAs took jobs in the consulting sector, while 9% of the class set to work on their own companies right out of business school – just under half of whom decided to do this in their second year of study at HBS.

 --  Read an interview with Bain’s head of global recruitment and HBS graduate, Keith Bevans.

LA Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak at UCLA Anderson

Business of basketball speaker for UCLA Anderson
A big name in basketball is the MBA commencement speaker at UCLA Anderson this year. Mitchell (Mitch) Kupchak, is an Olympic gold-medalist who won three NBA championships in a playing career spent with the Washington Bullets (now Wizards) and the Los Angeles Lakers.

His preparations for ‘life after basketball’ then saw him undertake the UCLA Anderson MBA, from which he graduated in 1987. Kupchak subsequently moved up the Lakers’ management hierarchy and is now the long-serving general manager of a team that delivered four titles between 2001 and 2010.

“There’s so much at stake now in the NBA…It’s really no different than another Fortune 500 company; it’s big business; it’s high-profile,” Kupchak has stated on a previous return to UCLA in 2011. What he learned from the MBA at UCLA Anderson, meanwhile, was of considerable interest to the Lakers’ previous general manager, Jerry West, particularly how Kupchak and his classmates were using new technology and databases at a time before they became ubiquitous and indeed, part and parcel of the way in which both the game, and the business behind the game, is managed. 

“I draw upon the confidence I have just as a result of completing a program like the one at UCLA. I'm still amazed I got in and finished,” Kupchak has said of his MBA experience, somewhat understating the success he has enjoyed as general manager of what Forbes regards as being the 10th most-valuable sports team in the world – with a US$2.6 billion valuation that stands ahead of soccer’s Bayern Munich and baseball’s Boston Red Sox.

‘One-man think tank’ on energy at Dartmouth Tuck 

Daniel Yergin to speak at Dartmouth Tuck
MBA graduation day at Dartmouth Tuck is known as Investiture and the school’s choice of speaker this year is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and expert on the global energy economy, Daniel Yergin.

Yergin picked up a Pulitzer Prize for The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, & Power (1991), a book which then served as the basis for a six-hour documentary series said to have been watched by 20 million people in the US. He was described last year, in Fortune, as being “easily the most erudite expert on the oil and gas industry” and as the US’s “most influential energy pundit…operating as a kind of one-man think tank” by The New York Times.

Having lectured at Harvard Business School in the late 70s, Dartmouth Tuck’s choice of commencement speaker founded Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) in 1982, which became part of IHS (Information Handling Services) in 2004 – a company supplying a number of industries with research data and analysis, of which Yergin is now vice chairman.

Yergin, who completed his undergraduate degree at Yale and holds a PhD in international relations from Cambridge University, also serves a director of the Council on Foreign Relations. He’ll be receiving an honorary doctorate from Dartmouth Tuck the day after his MBA graduation address at the university-wide commencement ceremony.

“Graduation is a time of celebration at Tuck—the culmination of two years spent learning and growing together here in Hanover and across the globe,” said Dartmouth Tuck’s dean, Matthew Slaughter, as part of the school’s announcement. 

Software CEO at the Kellogg School’s MBA graduation

SAP, the multinational software corporation headquartered in Germany, provides the Kellogg School’s commencement speaker this year.

Bill McDermott is SAP’s current CEO and a man with an extensive background in business technology, having previously held senior positions at Gartner and Siebel Systems. He’s also an executive MBA alumnus of the Kellogg School, a program he enrolled in after becoming, at the age of 35, Xerox Corporation’s youngest corporate officer and division president.

“People need a broad horizon. They need to get out of their comfort zone, out of their silo, and see the world through broader lenses. Kellogg helps you do that,” McDermott recalled in an alumnus interview.

As CEO at SAP, the Kellogg School’s speaker presides over vision and strategy for a company of around 75,000 in staff that serves close to 300,000 customers in 190 countries. Having joined the company as its North American head in 2002, he rose to become co-CEO with Jim Hagemann Snabe in 2010 and solo CEO in 2014.

Alongside Hagemann Snabe, McDermott is credited with SAP’s reinvention in the modern era of cloud computing and advanced analytics, and the two ranked second on a Glassdoor list of the world’s top 50 CEOs in 2013.

“The key is, segment your markets, understand your customer requirements, build specifications that serve your customers better than anyone else, and add all kinds of passion and customer service on top. Then realize each and every day that if you don’t take great care of your customers, you are one step closer to going out of business,” the Kellogg School graduate said back in 2009.

The technology sector hired 15% of the Kellogg School’s MBA class of 2015, with Amazon and Microsoft both featuring among its biggest recruiters by volume.

Daniel Yergin image source

This article was originally published in April 2016 . It was last updated in July 2019

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Written by

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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