From "cornfield lessons" and resilience, to how to spend your time, KPMG leaders reflected on their personal and professional journeys at commencement ceremonies across the country.
Chairman and CEO Lynne Doughtie was honored with the 2018 University Distinguished Achievement Award and spoke to graduates of the Pamplin School of Business at Virginia Tech, her alma mater. Doughtie talked about what it means to value the time you take for yourself, and the time you give to others, in a world where change is moving faster and demands are higher than ever:
“You have grown up in this age of fast change, technology moving at the speed of light, and that gives you a great advantage to embrace the future. Yet, that speed and that change, it has a way of stealing your time if you don’t become intentional – intentional – about how you take time and how you give time. So the next time you check your watch, or probably your cellphone, to see what time it is, I would ask you to let that be a gentle reminder, where you ask, ‘Am I taking the time, and giving the time that really matters?’ And likewise, at the end of your day, ask yourself, ‘Was how I spent my time today, and who I spent it with, was it worth trading one day of my life for?’ Your answer won’t change the past, but it can certainly inform your future.”
Operations Vice Chair Laura Newinski was the keynote speaker at the University of Iowa Tippie School of Business. Newinski shared stories of career and life lessons she learned in the corn fields in Iowa, where she detasseled corn as a teenager. From her experience, she offered what she called “cornfield lessons” to the graduates: “Work hard and passionately. Find purpose in what you do. And be a servant leader who finds success in the success of others.”
On being a servant leader, Newinski said:
“Mahatma Gandhi famously said that, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.’ His words continue to ring true for me. For years at KPMG, I have worked for people and had mentors who were servant leaders. And I have found my greatest professional success at times when I am immersed in helping those on my teams to be, and to bring, their very best... As you craft your story, work hard and with passion, take risks and be sure you reach in to lift others up. I guarantee you will find it the most rewarding part of your journey.”
Advisory Vice Chair Carl Carande spoke to the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics class of 2018 at his alma mater, California State University Northridge. Looking back on his own experiences, Carande offered words of wisdom for graduates thinking about what’s next. His first piece of advice: “Relax!” He went on to speak about staying focused on what’s most important:
“Stay connected to your purpose. A lot of times in life, you’re going to wonder 'Why am I doing this?' When it comes to the big things – your profession and other major decisions – make sure you have a good answer to why. And let me tell you: 'money' or even 'lots of money' is not a good enough answer. Your purpose is what will keep you on your path, and connect you to the things you care most about. It’s going to guide your actions and the decisions you make.”
Audit Innovation Leader Shaun Budnik addressed graduates at Florida International University, encouraging them to “Recognize your strength, your resilience and let your imagination change the world,” and sharing her perspectives on the intersection between resilience and innovation:
“Resilience is about surviving by doing things consistently, using accepted and safe methods. Innovation is about discarding common practices, shaking things up, and starting all over again. Business has always considered these two paths to be in opposition to each other. But this has to change. We already see that, across the board, careers are being disrupted by technology. Careers that involve imagination and strategic thinking are harder to replace. In today’s world, in order to be resilient you have to be innovative. There isn’t just one solution to any problem. You must use your imagination to create a mindset that is always innovating, always questioning the status quo.”
Lynne Doughtie's speech begins at the 43:00-minute mark in the video posted on Virginia Tech's website.
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Laura Newinski's speech is available on the University of Iowa's YouTube channel.
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Shaun Budnik's speech begins at the 29:00-minute mark in the video posted on Florida International University's website.
Watch it here