Adena Friedman Gives Commencement Address at Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management

By Kevin Feather / Digital Content Strategy

Adena Friedman Owen Commencement

Adena Friedman addressed the graduates of Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management on May 12. She began by noting the diversity of the class itself with over 38 U.S. states and 22 countries represented by the men and women receiving degrees. 

She continued her address with personal observations as an alumni of Owen acknowledging that they may remember their daily struggles, the long days and sleepless nights, but that all of those difficult times would be eclipsed by memories of their class camaraderie and work building new skills and tackling problems.

Friedman then provided an overview of the 5 core skills that have been essential in her career including: 
  1. Play well with others -- Confidence and humility may sound like opposites, but they in fact go hand-in-hand.
  2. Ideas are only as good as your ability to communicate them -- Whether you are in your very first job or the CEO of the company, take the time to articulate your points with precision (and some passion thrown in helps sometimes too)!
  3. Always be listening and learning -- Never be afraid of saying “I don’t know,” but of course the next sentence should be “but I will find out;” and never be too proud to learn.
  4. Be the optimist in the room -- During your career, you will face daunting tasks. You will have failures. But an optimist dusts him or herself off more quickly than a pessimist. A positive attitude is also contagious; if you are optimistic, the people around you will be, too.
  5. Be the brains, but also be the boots -- Value execution. Countless great ideas have died on the vine because of lack of focus on execution.

Adena Friedman Owen Commencement 2017 Collage

She concluded her speech with some final words of encouragement:

"No matter what comes your way, it's going to be okay. Because the truth of the matter is that life is long. Your career will likely span decades. You get to have lots of ups and downs. You get to make mistakes and learn from them. My career path started when I sat where you sit today. That was the beginning, but I am still far from the end.

I continue to focus on Nasdaq’s mission and my own career mission - growing and learning and striving every day –every bit as much as I did when I was a brand-new Owen graduate."

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