Posted Feb 10th 2013 12:00PM
We've seen some pretty great commencement speeches over the years. There was Steve Jobs' incredibly inspiring Stanford address in 2005, John Stewart's insightful speech to the graduating class of William and Mary in 2004 and Steven Colbert's hilarious 2011 address at Northwestern, but automotive executives aren't strangers to honorary degrees. Former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner spoke at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne recently gave the keynote at Walsh College's 100th Commencement Ceremony. The executive knows a thing or two about success and following one's beliefs to fulfillment.
"I constantly encourage my co-workers at Fiat and Chrysler to go beyond the cliche and the conventional to try new approaches and change perspective each and every day," Marchionne said. "I exhort them not to repeat the same things, the same approaches, and I remind them they are indeed free. The freedom I am talking about is something inside you. It is determined by how open minded you remain, how receptive you are to the new and to the different, to the infinite possibilities that present themselves even if you don't go looking for them or could never have imagined. Being free means that you have the strength not to be conditioned by what others want you to do or by what may seem to be the easiest choice."
Amen to that. You can check out the brief press release in the address below as well as a video of a few highlights from the speech.
Chrysler Group's Sergio Marchionne Addresses Graduates at Walsh College's 100th Commencement Ceremony
January 26, 2013 , Troy, Mich. - Chrysler Group LLC's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne addressed more than 2,000 students, faculty and family at Walsh College's 100th graduation ceremony on Saturday, January 26, at Zion Christian Church in Troy, Mich. Walsh College is one of Michigan's largest graduate business schools.
Chrysler Group has a long relationship with Walsh as nearly 548 alumni and 26 current students work at the Company.
Marchionne told the group of 200 plus graduates, "I constantly encourage my co-workers at Fiat and Chrysler to go beyond the cliché and the convention, to try new approaches and change perspective each and every day. I exhort them not to repeat the same things, the same approaches and I remind that they are indeed free. The freedom I'm talking about is something inside you."
It is determined by how open-minded you remain, how receptive you are to the new or different, to the infinite possibilities that present themselves even if you don't go looking for them or could never have imagined them. Being free means they have the strength not to be conditioned by what others want us to do or by what seems to be the easiest choice."
"I have no roadmap to give you for your own personal journey," he added. "Actually, the road you choose is really not important. What is very important is how you choose to travel along it. There are many doors along each of our paths, and behind each of those doors are things that can change us and our lives. But only those who have learned to appreciate every experience, whose minds are open to change, are capable of seeing those doors."
Marchionne touched on the opportunities ahead for the graduates, highlighting, "this is the greatest opportunity you have: the opportunity to dedicate yourselves, your dreams and your abilities to the enormously important project of creating the tomorrow that you want. The shape and meaning of tomorrow's society will be crafted by your ideals and by how you think and how you act. Every one of you has a contribution to make toward the creation of a better society."
Then said, "it is important not to lose the optimism, that sense of confidence in ourselves and in the future. It is important to keep going and keep passion alive. In my life I have never seen anyone make a dream come true without making the commitment to never stop fighting to make it real. The recent history of Chrysler is just an example of the kind of approach I'm talking about. Chrysler needed to regain faith in itself and view the future as an extraordinary opportunity. It needed to adopt a culture of change as necessity, respond to uncertainty as a challenge, and began measuring itself daily against its competitors and ultimately the market. The people of Chrysler are an example of refusing to despair but rather choosing to stand and fight. We demonstrated that by working hard, believing in ourselves and climbing back into the ring, we could change the course of events."
He concluded with a challenge to move with agility and decisiveness as the greatest quality of the Fiat and Chrysler family of organizations.
"My challenge to all of our employees is to exploit that opportunity to the fullest. And I hope some of you will consider taking that challenge with us. If you do, extraordinary opportunities will open before you in both your professional and your personal lives. You will have the chance to contribute your talents and your aspirations to the even grander and nobler project of shaping and giving meaning to the society of the future. I don't believe we can have any higher aspiration than that."
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