May 6, 2014

Johnson Faculty Members Offer Words of Wisdom in ‘Last Lectures’

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Second-year students of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management attended a “Last Lectures” event at Sage Hall Monday, where four faculty members — Prof. Kathleen O’Connor, management and organizations, Sean Martin Ph.D. ’13, Prof. Maureen O’Hara, the Robert W. Purcell professor of finance, and Prof. Drew Pascarella MBA ’01, finance, offered parting words and advice to their soon-to-be former students.

The primary lesson in all four lectures focused on the importance of graciousness.

O’Connor, the first speaker, described her five “keys to happiness.”

First — and most important — was to “always say thank you,” according to O’Connor. Other life lessons she offered were to “give more, take less,” “spend money on life experiences, rather than material things,” “keep hope alive” and “cultivate strong relationships.”

Martin stressed the importance of retaining one’s identity in his lecture. He spoke about America’s negative perception towards business professions and encouraged students to change this stigma.

“This is the state of affairs for your predecessors, [but] you have the power to change it,” he said. “Be influential, but not combative.”

Martin also spoke about the benefits of working in business, such as the ability to have a positive effect on society through charity.

“We’re the ones with the power so we’ve got to be the ones to make a change,” he said.

According to Martin, the side effects of “making a positive difference” is more worthwhile than finding happiness itself.

O’Hara’s lecture consisted of a “life in 10 slides” presentation, where she stressed humility and said that successful professionals always “remember their roots.”

“The biggest jerk in the office is always the person who acts like they built the company themselves,” she said.

Pascarella, the last speaker, spoke about advice he would have given himself when he graduated from the Johnson School with his MBA in 2001.

“Life is a series of group projects,” he said. “Project contributors bump along in their careers, but project managers get things done — be a project manager.”