It is difficult to adequately express how profoundly UCLA Anderson has impacted my career, my relationships, my global perspective and, most of all, my personal growth. Approaching commencement, I knew I could never sufficiently thank all those professors, staff, students and cherished friends who have inspired me, supported me and launched me onto a path I couldn’t have imagined three years ago. But I knew I wanted to try.
— Cara Bibbiani (FEMBA ’16), Fully Employed MBA Class of 2016 Commencement Speaker
Thank you faculty, staff, friends and family, those live streaming from around the world, and UCLA Anderson GRADUATES! I am truly honored to have this opportunity today. And I’m told that I must impart great wisdom and knowledge … with only four minutes … which is a truly fitting analogy to what it means to be a FEMBA!
But what is a FEMBA? What is this FEMBAlife we hashtag? Well, we are 36 different nationalities, a global community of doctors and lawyers, managers and bankers, business owners, military veterans, mothers and fathers, with so little time and yet so much faith that we could be something more. We would not settle for the status quo, or the jobs we had, or our healthy bank accounts!
We are leaders who made a conscious decision to sacrifice our time, our friends and our families to become even better leaders. And because it truly takes a village to raise a FEMBA, let’s please have a round of applause for all those who supported us in person or in spirit throughout this journey! And to my own mother, Barbara, I would not be here without your unfailing love and support. You are the reason I succeed.
Three years ago, we came together on a ropes course on this very campus because we believed in embracing change. Some of us wanted to change a job into a career. Some wanted to switch into a new field entirely. Some wanted more change in their pocket and others simply wanted to change their family’s future.
We believed UCLA Anderson to be the vehicle for that change. A forward-thinking business school that teaches us to be entrepreneurial, collaborative, innovative and agile in a rapidly changing business environment. A place where your classmates launch startups, give TED talks and create apps. A place where anything is possible. Where a test engineer transforms into an iBanker. Where an Olympic gold medalist qualifies for his fourth Olympic trials. Where a government employee gets promoted three times during this program, which happens to be one more than the number of babies she had during the same period. Where a professional magician can also become an analyst at Facebook. Where an NFL cheerleader becomes your commencement speaker!
We have all grown and changed a great deal over the last three years. Some of us have even learned the code to the FEMBA lounge (I am not one of those people). But perhaps most important is how we’ve changed each other. We have achieved this together, as a family. I have never been more proud of or inspired by a single group of people. Our classmates have built rocket ships, fought wars and raised millions of dollars for charity. But we’ve also been there for each other when we needed encouragement, or help with a project, or In-N-Out Burger at 2:00 a.m. I want each of you to think about just one person in this class who motivated you to change your thought process or your career path, to try something new or simply to stay motivated to make it here to this day. And I hope you take the time today to share that story with that classmate and to thank them. And while we’re at it, why not post it, tag them and hashtag it FEMBAfamily? Because that’s what we really are. For me, that classmate was Kiesha McCurtis, and I will find you after this!
We now have the tools and the credentials to change our circumstances. We have crossed that finish line. But take a moment to appreciate how Anderson has changed who we are as people. Even though we may, in fact, be poorer, we are vastly enriched by the quality of relationships and people and experiences on this campus. And because I have to throw in at least one business term, this enrichment is what I like to call the Return on Anderson — the ultimate ROA.
I leave you with the famous words of John Wooden, who said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” Always remember how we FEMBAs started this incredible journey — with something as simple, yet profound, as change. The willingness to change that brought us here to Anderson. The unexpected change we learned to manage here — like a GAP pivot … in November; the change we will make in the world when we leave here today.
So, I challenge all of you to continue to be champions of change. To stretch yourself, to take a risk, to inspire others and companies and entire industries to grow in new and challenging ways. To be the Anderson entrepreneurs who disrupt and transform and revolutionize — who increase the Return on Anderson. Congratulations to the Class of 2016!