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The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University

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May 21, 2017

EMBA Commencement Speaker: Dr. KMarie Reid

KMarie Reid, MD, MS, EMBA commencement speaker

Associate Deans Zinner and Thomas, members of the faculty, distinguished guests, fellow graduates and EMBA classmates, it is truly a privilege to give this message to you this morning. I welcome and give thanks for the family and friends who have joined us in celebration.

I would like to share a story that began 16 months ago. Thirty-six mid-career physicians independently decided to participate in the inaugural class of the Heller School’s Executive MBA program. For many of us, this decision to participate was heavily influenced by our prior experience with distinguished Brandeis faculty, Professor Jon Chilingerian. We trusted his vision, commitment and leadership.

No one could have imagined the depths of the bonds that would be created during this journey.  As a class, we rallied together, got through corporate finance together, coached each other, cheered for each other, and even cried for each other. The sine wave of life was prominently manifested in our group. While some were peaking in their careers, others faced challenges with their health or career transitions. But, through it all we were there to support each other, together. We reminded each other of who we were when the challenges eclipsed even our own sense of self.

I share this story to demonstrate lessons that I learned regarding leadership and the power of a great team from my classmates. When I joined this group, I was in the throes of a major career transition, and later dealt with unexpected health challenges. I had chosen to step away from a successful career at a major academic center. It was a decision that had a central focus of crisis, but mixed with a desire to have the freedom to be creative, receive an MBA and become an entrepreneur. Some might call my decision brave, but I was plagued with self-doubt and feared failure. Even as I chose this untethered path, I was at the lowest point in my life. It was dark. It’s with this backdrop that I entered the program. What I encountered was a group of individuals filled with kindness, individuals who were inclusive, and my relationships with them helped me to heal, grow, and be the fullness of who I am, without reproach.

As an individual, one’s view can be so limited, narrowly focused. Our group illustrated how important the diversity of thought, experience and vision are, and how diversity helps to bolster a team. My view of the world, the way I approach problems, teams, in fact life, have been forever changed based on these interactions.

I leave you with three lessons that will frame the experience of my future leadership and I hope that you will also choose them to frame yours.

First: Lead with fairness and compassion. Let your understanding of the importance of inclusion lie at the heart of the policies that you will create and be the backbone of the selection process when choosing members of your teams.

Second: Follow your passion. This team reinforced for me what a tremendous gift following your passion is. They vigorously supported the vision of my company, giving me the steadiness I sorely needed.

Third: Resilience is necessary for success. As future leaders, you might believe success to be the endpoint, and that once you become successful you have arrived. But there is a thin line between success and failure. To succeed, you will fail - sometimes many times. It is, therefore, important to be resilient. Create a network that is there to support you when you feel vulnerable and unsure. And finally, remember that “neither success, nor failure, is ever final.”

As we move into the future, do so with courage and confidence. The Brandeis faculty has prepared us to spearhead change in America and globally. I predict that our influence across our respective fields will make the Heller School for Social Policy and Management proud of this graduating class.

Graduating Class of 2017, WE ARE READY! We are ready to change the world!

Knowledge Advancing Social Justice

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