How to get from MBA to CEO


Storm clouds threatened, but rain never fell on the GSB's convocation Sunday afternoon. Umbrellas at the ready, families and friends of soon-to-be graduates began lining up outside Harper Quad more than an hour before the ceremony's start time, hoping to snag a good seat when the gates opened.

After the U of C pipe band led a cap-and-gown procession of more than 700 graduates and faculty to their seats, Steven Kaplan, the GSB's Neubauer Family professor of entrepreneurship and finance, offered what he called a "PEP talk." Pressing one last lesson on the graduating class, Kaplan explained that PEP was an acronym he used for "persistent, efficient, and proactive," the three qualities that, according to his research, make for the most successful CEOs. Almost all of those with PEP succeed, compared to fewer than half of those without it.

Kaplan also offered graduates a brief pep talk: "You are not the first class to graduate in an economically unsettled time," he said. The GSB classes of 1989 and 2001 found themselves in similar straits. Yet no matter how the economy fluctuates, he assured them, "your abilities and talents are constants."

After the ceremony ended, the newly minted alumni headed to Ida Noyes to pick up their diplomas, which University officials were keeping safe and dry indoors. As they had walked across the stage, President Robert J. Zimmer had handed them empty diploma covers.


Photo: Professor Steven Kaplan addressed GSB graduates at Sunday's convocation.

June 16, 2008