Members of the MBA and Leaders for Global Operations Class of 2012 gathered together at the Boston Opera House with their friends and family to celebrate the completion of their MIT degrees at the fourth annual Convocation, held Thursday, June 7.
Convocation celebrates the achievements of the class while also welcoming students to the MIT alumni community. This year’s ceremony included speeches by Deputy Dean JoAnne Yates; David Schmittlein, the John C Head III Dean; student speaker Charles (Chuck) Frantz MBA ’12; Martin Trust SM ’58, president of Brandot International Ltd.; and Alex Min SB ’91, MBA ’07.
Yates was the first to address the audience, congratulating the Class of 2012. She also thanked their friends and family, many who traveled halfway around the world to attend Convocation and Commencement ceremonies.
Yates told the graduating students, “You will each, in your own way, be called on professionally and personally to improve your organizations, your communities, and the world. The relationships you have formed with each other and with the larger Sloan community will support you in these endeavors.”
Yates then introduced Frantz.
MIT Sloan is community
Frantz quickly set expectations for his talk by announcing that he was not class valedictorian, nor would he tell his life story. Instead, he spoke of community.
Addressing his classmates, Frantz said, “I liken the Sloan community to that of a team. Nearly every class has a group project component, and we as students pride ourselves on our collaborative nature.”
Frantz then spoke of Bruce Tuckman’s theory of high-performing teams and the stages they go through as they develop: forming, storming, norming, performing and adjourning.
In the first phase, Frantz noted that team members remain positive and polite. The storming phase begins when people stop being nice to each other — especially during the first semester’s Core classes. “As challenging as the academics were for many of us, we each had an incredible Core team,” Frantz said.
He added, “In the norming stage, a community becomes comfortable with each other, and the true socializing begins. Deep friendships are formed that, for many of us, will last a lifetime.”
Performing is the next stage — this is when students build high-functioning teams — followed by the adjourning phase. Frantz said, “Sadly, this is where we find ourselves today, as our short time together comes to a close as a class. But I can tell everyone that they should instead focus and celebrate our pride and our accomplishments.”
Violinist Laura Esnaola MBA ’12 and pianist Helen Ma MBA ’12 then performed “Gypsy Airs,” by the Spanish composer Pablo de Sarasate. The piece was selected to reflect their feelings at graduation time.
Schmittlein then addressed the Class of 2012. “Congratulations! You’ve experienced a great deal of change, personally, here at MIT Sloan. You are now armed with analytical tools, leadership skills, and the support of a global network of alums. I am confident that you will achieve success.”
The dean then introduced the event’s distinguished alumni speaker, Martin Trust, calling him a visionary entrepreneur. Trust started his first business, Mast Industries, with just $1,000. In 1978, his company, a contract manufacturer, importer and distributor of clothing, merged with The Limited Stores, now Limited Brands.
To this day, Trust is still involved with the MIT and Sloan communities. He and his wife, Diane, have provided support for 129 graduate students through the Martin Trust Graduate Management Fellowship, the Martin Trust Community Fellowship, and most recently, the Martin (1958) Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship.
MIT has changed
Trust spoke of his time as a student and told the audience that much has changed since he arrived on campus — noting that tuition was just $1,100 when he began. He conducted research for his thesis using an IBM 704 mainframe computer that took up an entire room. Many students used the computer, so Trust often found himself in the computer lab at 3 a.m. — one of the few free times available.
“I believe that back then, we also tried to understand what we didn’t know. The Sloan education doesn’t teach you all the things that you need to know. Rather, it helps you better understand what you don’t know, and what questions to ask,” he said.
Trust then expressed his thoughts on the values he would like to see in today’s graduates. “I wish more were interested in buying to build, and building to own. It is much harder to build something from nothing than to simply buy and sell.”
“The shine of entrepreneurs has become tarnished recently. Instead of buying to build, many have opted to strip and flip,” he said. “I think that we need a renaissance — a refocusing — on the values that first made entrepreneurs revered and respected figures in society.”
‘We’ is more important than ‘I’
Trust then shared six values that he believes are important for success.
First, he said, entrepreneurs should have vision to understand potential. Second, entrepreneurs know that partnership and teams are essential.
Trust advised, “‘We’ is more important than ‘I.’ Developing great partnerships and teams is the key to a successful career. Work with partners you trust are ethical, and can be relied upon.”
Third, Trust said, entrepreneurs do not make money out of money; entrepreneurs use money to turn ideas into profitable enterprises. Fourth, entrepreneurs should embrace failure. Fifth, entrepreneurs should think long term. Lastly, entrepreneurs must have values, he said.
Trust concluded his speech by adding, “We need to start earning back the trust and confidence of whatever societies our businesses impact.”
Schmittlein then presented Trust with the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Leadership for his contributions as a principled leader who has improved the world.
Yates then introduced Class Gift co-chairs Clara Brenner, Josh Rider and Eddie Liu. This group, along with 17 other students, worked with their class to raise $250,000.
Welcome to the MIT Sloan alumni community
Schmittlein then introduced the event’s alumni ambassador, Alex Min.
Min said, “It is an honor to be here today to represent the MIT Sloan alumni community, and to welcome you into this dynamic group. I am especially grateful for the chance to acknowledge Martin Trust and his wife, Diane, for their generosity and commitment to MIT Sloan.”
Min added, “The strength of the MIT network rests in your willingness and eagerness to carry on the bonds formed on campus. Carry the MIT name with you, and carry it with pride.”
In closing, Schmittlein told graduates, “I am proud of you. All of us assembled will follow your progress with great hopes. We won’t say goodbye, then, but best wishes.”