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By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

Deloitte CEO advises business graduates to pair networking with confidence

This post was written by Hatchet staff writer Tatiana Cirisano.

Undergraduate Student Speaker Hunter Pritchard addresses the graduates at the GW School of Business Celebration on Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor
Student speaker Hunter Pritchard addresses fellow GW School of Business graduates Friday. Cameron Lancaster | Assistant Photo Editor

Business graduates filled the Smith Center with cheers Friday afternoon as they heard from Barry Salzberg, the school’s first speaker in four years to not have earned a degree from GW.

Here are five stand-out moments from the ceremony:

1. “For decades, success was tied to climbing ladders. Today, it’s all about building bridges.”

After his high school guidance counselor advised him against applying to college because he “wouldn’t be able to handle the work,” Salzberg went on to graduate from Brooklyn College, receive his law degree from Brooklyn Law School and earn his master of laws from the New York University School of Law.

Today, as the global chief executive officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, he attributes some of his success to the power of making connections. By creating and maintaining relationships, he said graduates will be equipped with the support they need to succeed.

“Our greatest assets are no longer the things we produce, but the connections we make and the bridges we build,” Salzberg said.

2.“Be confident, but don’t expect what you haven’t earned.”

Salzberg described a GW student’s job interview with Deloitte. He said the student requested $300,000 a year as a starting salary. The interviewer responded by offering the student a job that included a new company car every two years and five weeks of vacation, among other benefits.

“Are you kidding?” the student asked.

The interviewer responded, “Of course I am. But you started it.”

Salzberg encouraged students to build up their confidence. But he also asked them to remember that confidence can only go so far – and skills and experience are crucial.

3. “Innovation begins with a natural distrust of the status quo.”

Hunter Pritchard, the school’s undergraduate student speaker, urged his fellow graduates to follow their instincts and retain their curiosity.

Pritchard, a business administration major, said they should also create their own rules and question tradition.

“Live your life with gusto and enthusiasm, and remember what Steve Jobs said, ‘The new is you,’”  he said.

4. “Learning rarely takes place in the classroom”

Master of business administration student speaker Amy Watson said true learning occurs through experience – and she has traveled to 16 countries during her academic career to prove it.

“Every time I got off the plane in a new place, I felt enlightened,” she said.

Watson said students must see their education as more than a “means to an end,” and apply their knowledge to everyday problems.

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