The Best MBA Graduation Speakers For 2015


The big day is almost here. After two years of racing around, you can finally slow down and appreciate it. Three years ago, you were cramming for the GMAT and wondering where you wanted to be and what you wanted to do. Now, you’re heading to your dream job (or going full force into your startup).

It wasn’t easy. A two-year vacation, some say? That’s only if your idea of leisure is reading case-after-case. And those projects weren’t arcane simulations, either – companies are actually using them as models. Whether you planned campus events, trekked across the globe, or dominated the competition circuit, these were special times. You learned to question with purpose and perform with poise. And you built a community of friends and advocates as you stretched your limits. Congratulations, Class of 2015! Welcome to being an alumni – and all the privileges and responsibilities it entails.

Commencement means beginning. And a staple of every graduation speech is that the ceremony is just the start of your journey. From here on, your commence speaker will say, your real learning really begins. And they would know. For many speakers, graduation is a homecoming.


Indeed, many MBAs are returning full circle in 2015. In fact, many speakers are delivering commencement addresses to their heirs – often twenty of more years after they graduated from these same programs. Take Columbia Business School’s Sallie Krawcheck, for example. After working as an analyst at Salomon Brothers during the Liar’s Poker heyday, she earned her MBA at Columbia in 1992. Over time, she navigated a male-dominated banking world to become CEO of Smith Barney in 2002 and Chief Financial Officer at CitiGroup. Later, she moved to Bank of America as President of the firm’s Global Wealth and Investment Management arm, where she oversaw over $2.2 trillion dollars in customer accounts.

Now, Krawcheck chairs the Ellevate Network, formerly known as 85 Broads, an organization that facilitates professional networking among female executives worldwide. And you can expect her address to be a barnburner. Krawcheck has truly experienced the highs-and-lows of a talent who made a difference. New York dubbed her the “First Lady of Wall Street” and Fortune has listed her among the “Most Powerful Women in Business.” At the same time, her “de-layering” at Bank of America made her front page fodder for the Wall Street Journal. Despite setbacks, Krawcheck keeps pushing forward. And her trademark candor, coupled with her southern charm, make her commencement address the one to watch in 2015.

But she is far from alone. At Wharton, Warby Parker’s Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa are addressing their successors just five years after graduating themselves. The University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management welcomes back Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf, a 1980 MBA from the school. And New York University’s Stern School of Business has recruited a Wall Street heavyweight of its own: NASDAQ CEO Bob Greifeld, a 1987 Stern MBA.

Wondering who is speaking at the top full-time MBA graduations? Looking for dates, schedules, and accommodations for your favorite schools? Check out our list of the commencements to see how the top MBA programs are going out with a bang.


Michigan (Ross)

Date: May 1, 2015

Speaker: G.V. Sanjay Reddy (’89), Vice Chairman of GVK

Graduation Information: Michigan Ross Commencement


Georgia Tech University (Scheller)

Date:  May 3, 2015Georgia Tech

Speakers: Dean Maryam Alavi (Introductory)

Dr. Deborah Turner (Evening Outstanding Core Professor of the Year)

Dr. Charles Mulford Jr. (Full-time Outstanding Core Professor of the Year)

Graduation Information: 2015 Georgia Tech Commencement

Additional Note: For directions and accommodations, click here.



Indiana University (Kelley)

Date: May 8, 2015

Speaker: Anton Vincent (’93), President of the Snacks Division of General Mills

Graduation Information: 2015 Kelley Graduation


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Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Date: May 8, 2015

Speaker: Martin Craighead (‘98), CEO of Baker Hughes