Undergrad speaker: Make these relationships a priority

  • May 31, 2018
  • By Guest Blogger
  • 4 minute read

Carter Umetsu, BSBA ’18, delivered this address as the student speaker at Olin’s Undergraduate Graduation Recognition Ceremony on May 18, 2018. He is spending the next month studying for the GMAT, then starts a job with Capital One in July.

Good afternoon, graduates, faculty, staff, family, and friends. Before I begin, I would be remiss to not thank the Olin Class of 2018 for giving me the honor to speak at this ceremony. Recognizing all those in our class who have excelled in academics, leadership, athletics, service, and in so many other areas, I am truly humbled. So, thank you.

In the business school, we often talk about how to drive shareholder value. Shareholders invest resources into the ventures of an organization or individual with the prospect of sharing in some of the success.

OK. I’m already starting to see some eyes glaze over, but please stick with me. In our last four years at WashU, we, as students, have all had a lot of shareholders asking when they’ll receive their return on investment. My parents, for example, spent four years asking what I would do with a major in leadership.

But it’s not just parents. It’s also family, friends, faculty, staff, administrators, and most of all, ourselves. We all expect results. But Olin has taught me that in order to drive shareholder value, you must first efficiently and effectively distribute your limited resources. Looking back at the last four years, I think we can all agree that our most limited resource is time.

There is only so much time in the day to attend class, meet with groups, maintain friendships, eat, complete assignments, and sleep. There is only so much time in 4 years to find yourself, establish a position on this campus, and leave a positive impact and legacy on WashU and the city of St. Louis. So how do we accomplish these goals, given our extremely limited resource of time?

Well, we learn how to prioritize.

For many of us, sleep was a low priority. For others, attending class was a low priority. For some of us, and you know who you are, contributing to group projects was a low priority. But the thing that makes Olin special in my mind, is that for everyone here, building and maintaining relationships has always been a high priority.

Whether that means having a quick conversation while waiting for a bagel in Einstein’s or catching up in the 20 minutes it takes to get a Starbucks coffee, as Olin students we always take the time to focus on people and maintain those relationships.

Olin prides itself on being a collaborative environment, where we work in teams to achieve something greater than was possible as individuals. From our first group projects in Management 100 and 150 and in every group project since then, we’ve all had the opportunity to develop relationships with our peers, to learn from them, to expand our own understanding by listening to them, and to create friendships that carried from class to class. But the reality is, maintaining those relationships here at Olin was easy.

When we leave here today, we won’t casually run into our 50 closest friends in Bauer Hall or walking between classes. We won’t have the opportunity to simply catch up while waiting for a Starbucks. We won’t have the convenience of knowing that if we’re ever bored we can sit in Einsteins until a friend walks past.

When we leave here today, maintaining the relationships that we’ve spent the last four years developing will take work. It will require us to prioritize. Most importantly, we will need to be intentional in how we interact with others, connect with others, and reconnect with others.

I cannot express how much I’ve appreciated the people here in Olin. You all have pushed me, encouraged me, and driven me to accomplish more than I’ve ever thought possible. The people are truly what make this school extraordinary. And because of this, and because I know that you all can prioritize, I have confidence that we will make the most of our limited time by being intentional in preserving our friendships, being purposeful in upholding those relationships, and being diligent in adding each other on LinkedIn.

This will ensure that the bonds we have built as a class stay strong as we enter the working world, and that the relationships we have prioritized above all else will thrive in our post college environment. And that, I think, is the greatest return on investment that any shareholder could ask for. Thank you for an incredible four years, and congratulations to the class of 2018.

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