Crossing the Stage One More Time

Idealism abounds at graduations, and hopefully the photos on the following pages from commencements past spark some in you. Besides delivering nostalgia, Wharton Magazine also hopes to provide a public service to the Class of 2015—as a conduit for alumni, teachers, friends and family to share words of encouragement and advice. Here’s how it works:

In the following pages of Wharton Magazine, you will find the thoughts of some of Wharton’s alumni leaders—some recent graduates, others seasoned professionals at the peak of their careers. Common threads form a pattern in their words—of the strengths of friendships, the value of the education, the power of the network.

“These classmates crossing the stage with you today will be some of your best lifelong friends. And as my career pursuits have moved me from city to city, I have become even better friends with classmates who I knew only casually while on campus,” as Khadir Richie WG02 puts it. “Every single role or opportunity I have achieved since graduation was either introduced to me through the Wharton network or the network helped me close the deal. Leverage this resource!”

Alumni also reflect on what they would have done differently after graduation, had they known then … Everything from working for a larger, named company to being more patient in the first decade of his career, as Tom Trynin WG90 confides:

“There will always be some who achieve quick successes, but for most of us there really is no substitute for experience in a job/industry. After about 10 years or so in an industry is when real opportunities arise,” he says.

To imagining classmates not as competitors but as teammates, as Thomas Gallagher C73 WG75 says. “I would seek their advice frequently, share my own thoughts more openly, offer my own counsel when asked.”

To taking advantage of any and all opportunities.

“Say yes (enthusiastically) to work-related projects you are asked to participate in, even if you think that you are overqualified,” Sally Bayliss WG85 advises. “You never know whom you might meet or what other opportunities might arise as a result of your being involved.”

Please share your advice with the Class of 2015.

Send your own words of wisdom (or even just humor and positivity) to this year’s graduates by:

  • Emailing them to: magazine@wharton.upenn.edu
  • Posting them to Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #WhartonGrads
  • Visiting whartonmagazine.com and filling out the entry form

The provided entries will be shared with the graduates over social media, on the magazine website and, best yet, on displays at the actual commencement events.

 

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“During your waking hours, you will be spending more time with the people you work with than with your family, and it is likely that you will be working for the next several decades. … And, given the amount of time you will be spending in the office, you need to pursue your career at a place where you respect the people you work with. Notice I use the word ‘respect’ and not ‘like.’”

—Joel Serebransky WG85, a fixed-income portfolio manager focusing on high-yield debt, who started on Wall Street’s sell side but moved to the buy side for the lifestyle change after his first child’s birth

 

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“There is no simple formula, and I have seen classmates achieve career success walking a variety of paths. Some shot a straight arrow and progressed. Others seemed to wander multiple roads but always found a way forward. Don’t worry if the first step isn’t the one you anticipated.”

—Khadir Richie WG02, who works for a $10 billion equities fund in Atlanta and is happy and passionate about his profession, though he had expected to end up in another investing discipline when he enrolled at Wharton

 

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“Trust your gut and speak up. Don’t hold back just because you’re the new kid on the block. A fresh perspective can be incredibly valuable at companies.”

—Andrea Lee WG10, who joined Amazon in 2015 to lead their home improvement category

 

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“Wharton is a springboard from which you can and should take risks. … So go do something entrepreneurial, unconventional or otherwise ill-advised!”

—Yana W. Kakar WG05, global managing partner, Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where she oversees activities in 14 offices across four continents and defines and syndicates the consultancy’s strategy

 

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“Visualize your legacy. That’s difficult to do now, but imagine how you wish to be remembered by your friends, colleagues and family. In your profession, be a mentor. You’re a talented player, be a coach too. … Teach; learn; read widely; write frequently; think critically.”

—Thomas Gallagher C73 WG75, who in the past 10 years has started two companies, owned and managed another, taught at a major university and run a national academic testing company

 

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“The corporate world is a game, and one must be attuned to the rules. I focused too much on the assignment versus the environment with its participants.”

—Naomi Breman WG73, whose previous position was managing director of Deutsche Bank, head of corporate communications and marketing for the Americas, and who is now “blissfully retired”

 

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“Take this moment to take a risk—find something that interests you and motivates you to get up every morning. That’s a great recipe for happiness.”

—Ari Brose WG95, who launched her own consulting firm after 18 years in the corporate world at PwC, IBM, Fannie Mae and Barclays

 

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“It’s worthwhile to put down on paper, annually, an evolving vision for your life looking out three, five, 10, 20 years. Passion should drive the priorities, but the goal should be a balanced life, which likely includes some combination of family, work, friends, exercise, community, charity and outside interests.”

—Tom Trynin WG90, whose career has come full circle—he came to Wharton to get away from trading and Morgan Stanley, studied Entrepreneurial Management, became an operator of businesses around the world for 20 years, then launched his own wealth investment firm, Red Hook Management, with a former Morgan Stanley colleague

 

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“To be honest, I thought I knew what I wanted to do coming out of Wharton, but my MBA experience really opened my eyes to different opportunities that pivot off my skills and emphasize my strengths.”

—Sonia Gupta WG14, who manages the e-commerce site for Michael Kors

 

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“Too many people I know have taken jobs they expected they would hate, but did it for the money. Bad idea. Why voluntarily make yourself unhappy? I thought you guys were smart! You will never be as good at that job as the people who go in loving it.”

—Daniel Franzese WG89, who currently works in investment banking, his intent at Wharton (though he didn’t initially break into the business right out of School and persevered until he did)

 

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