Speaker Pushes For Creativity at Business School Class Day

The Harvard Business School’s class of 2010 celebrated their past two years as MBA students and their future prospects at a Class Day ceremony with friends, faculty, and family yesterday.

On the lawn in front of the Business School’s Baker Library, graduates listened to speeches by John W. Coleman, a member of the Class of 2010 who is graduating with a joint degree from the Kennedy School and Business School, and Ronald Cohen, a 1969 graduate of the Business School and one of the world’s leading private equity investors.

Throughout the ceremony, speakers alluded to the recent financial crisis and its impact on the business world, encouraging the class of 2010 to think outside the box in their careers.

“As we cross the stage tomorrow and step out into the world beyond this school, what if it’s more important than ever to recapture that child-like sense of imagination?” Coleman said. “What if, in a world so vastly transformed by crisis that it barely resembles the one we left in 2008, what matters most is not Excel proficiency or accounting acumen, but a passion and capacity for creativity?”

Cohen, considered one of the founding fathers of Europe’s venture capital industry, stressed the importance of social enterprise and entrepreneurship—both of which have seen an increased emphasis at the Business School in the recent past.

The afternoon was also marked by light-hearted reflection on the class’s two-year experience at the Business School.

“Something I’ve learned while here at HBS is that business schools students like to celebrate,” said Jamie D. J. Chang, a member of the Class Day Committee, which organized the ceremony.

“We’ve celebrated the 100 year anniversary of HBS, Iceland’s bankruptcy, Octoberfest in the beer houses of Munich, and more recently Queen’s Day in Amsterdam—name a national holiday and we’ve celebrated it,” Chang said. “Therefore we found it only fitting to have this Class Day to celebrate and showcase the great HBS class of 2010.”

Chang presented awards to his class’s five favorite faculty members, who were selected by a class vote. He praised Business School professors for their ability to interact with both opinionated and apathetic students in the classroom.

“Teaching is a difficult for a number of a reasons,” Chang said before he presented the faculty awards. “First of all, you have to teach HBS students, all of whom have strong opinions who are never wrong—never.”

“You have to respectfully ignore the classroom statues of liberty—you know who you are—and draw out comments from those who are always asleep or hungover or both,” he added.

—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at tmerrigan@college.harvard.edu.

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