Northeastern University on Thursday celebrated the newest D’Amore-McKim School of Business graduates at Commencement, where 439 students in 12 master’s degree programs were conferred degrees.
University leaders, students, faculty, staff, family, and friends gathered in Matthews Arena for the ceremony, where the Northeastern community recognized the class’ achievements. President Joseph E. Aoun and Commencement speaker Spencer Fung, PA’96, both launched Periscope broadcasts, with graduates roaring “Go Huskies!” at Fung’s request.
Hugh Courtney, dean of the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, welcomed graduates to kick off the ceremony, lauding their collective achievements. “It has been a privilege to teach you, but also learn from you,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Aoun urged graduates to be “culturally agile” by embracing the world’s powerful diversity, saying “you must be global” to succeed on the world stage.
“Your education here at Northeastern has enabled you to explore the world,” Aoun said. “You are ready to meet any challenge. You are ready to capitalize on any opportunity. You are ready to be culturally agile. Do so, and you will shape wonderful lives—for yourselves, and for others. Do so, and you will shape a better world.”
Aoun recognized several members of the Northeastern community who have already displayed cultural agility. Among them were Commencement student speaker, Nadia Neekta Abossein, who has traveled to 40 countries and spent the past 10 years pursuing her love of foreign languages and photojournalism; and Paula Caligiuri, Distinguished Professor of Global Leadership and Strategy in the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, whose experiences living and working abroad led her to write an influential book, Cultural Agility: Building a Pipeline of Successful Global Professionals.
Aoun also pointed to Fung, the group chief executive officer of Li & Fung and a member of Northeastern’s Board of Trustees, who he said “is the model of the global leader who is culturally agile.” Fung leads a global supply chain company that is based in Hong Kong and is part of Northeastern’s worldwide network of 3,000 co-op employers.
Fung, for his part, was presented a special citation honoring him as an “intrepid entrepreneur, exemplar of the global chief executive, visionary son of Northeastern.” During his graduate studies at Northeastern, Fung gained valuable insight into global business through an accounting co-op in Shanghai. He went on to co-found a Silicon Valley startup and later joined Li & Fung, working his way up and devoting himself to learning every aspect of his family’s century-old business. He also helped launch his company’s co-op program.
In his Commencement address, Fung credited his Northeastern education for launching his career and hailed its signature co-op program for providing students with the real-world work experience needed to enter a fast-paced, global business environment.
“Northeastern’s co-op program,” he said, “is standing right in the best place to disrupt all the other educational models.”
Fung imparted three lessons to graduates as they move forward in their own careers: “regret planning”—that is, how to make a decision that you will not regret later; “zero-based planning,” or starting with a clean slate; and always keeping a steep learning curve by pushing yourself to acquire new skills and explore new professional challenges.
“Graduates, each of you will take a different path from today onward,” he said. “Like a tree you will all branch out in different directions, but like a tree you will forever share the same core, the same trunk, and the same roots because of your shared experiences at Northeastern.”
In her student speaker address, Abossein, MS/MBA’15, urged her fellow graduates to welcome the uncertainty that the future might hold and revel in the lifelong pursuit of new ideas and innovative ways of thinking. Business, she explained, is “evolution in action. It’s not a constant analysis of numbers and figures and supply chains, but rather the art of constant and perpetual adaptation. Nothing ever stands still so, consequently, we can’t either.”
Abossein, who earned her dual degree in the business school’s Master of Science in Accounting/MBA program, added: “Certainty keeps us asleep, whereas the unknown wakes us up and fills us with the energy of what we have, the potential to contribute to the world.”
At the end of the ceremony, graduates placed their alumni pins on the person seated next to them. Aoun then asked Abossein to place a pin on Fung, who had missed his own Commencement at Northeastern nearly 20 years ago because he started work immediately after graduating.
“That’s why I asked Nadia to pin him,” Aoun said. “So he’s one of you.”