Brandeis International Business School

Brandeis International Business School holds its 23rd annual diploma ceremony

Graduates encouraged to seek meaning and truth, give back in midst of shifting globalization trends

Brandeis International Business School held its 23rd annual diploma ceremony on Sunday, May 21 to commemorate 160 members of the Class of 2017. Students from the school’s graduate programs in business, economics and finance were joined by friends, family, faculty and staff in Levin Ballroom to celebrate their achievements. The graduating class was honored and recognized by the ceremony’s featured speakers, including Professor Ben Gomes-Casseres ’76, P ’15, alumnus Lan Xue, ’90, MA ’91 and student speaker Ohad Elhelo. 

Elhelo, an International Business School BA/MA student, is the founder of Our Generation Speaks – a startup incubator that brings Israelis and Palestinians together to create entrepreneurial ideas with local social impact. He encouraged his fellow graduates to form meaningful relationships across cultures and borders and urged his classmates to continue the difficult but important work of seeing truth and justice in their areas of work. Elhelo gratefully acknowledged the school’s role in setting a positive example for these values.     

“Brandeis will forever remain the place in which no one checks your skin color or your accent at the gates of admissions,” said Elhelo. 

“Each of us is capable of making a difference in our home community. Each of us must remember that we graduated from Brandeis – a place where truth remains absolute and paramount; a place where equality is not an argument or an aspiration, but a fact; and a place where social justice is not just a slogan but a policy, a student club, a course.” 

Leading the class in this year’s ceremony was the peer-selected Student Leadership Award winner, Sike Dong, MA ’17. The graduates, including Elhelo and Dong, were encouraged by the morning’s faculty and alumni honorees to explore opportunities and seek meaningful paths to success. 

Dean’s Medal recipient Lan Xue, ’90, MA ’91 reflected on her 25-year career in investment banking, first as a research lead in the newly emerging China markets in the early ’90s and more recently as the co-founder of China-focused hedge fund, Trivest Advisors.

“Looking back on my experience, I think that being in the right place at the right time is so important,” she remarked. 

“For all of you, now is the time to figure out your strengths and what the right place is for you. The right time will come.” 

Xue, who received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brandeis University and the International Business School, respectively, expressed her gratitude for the opportunities provided to her as a student. She encouraged this year’s graduates to pay their own gratitude forward.

“The challenges that my generation faced are different from yours, but not in the least smaller. One thing never changes – it is the willingness to learn and to adapt to whatever the world brings us. I am here to pay my gratitude to Brandeis, which opened up a new life for me. As we grow, we must always remember who helped us and always try to give back by helping others later.” 

Addressing the graduates from a faculty perspective was International Business School Professor and Director of the Asper Center for Global Entrepreneurship, Benjamin Gomes-Casseres, ’76, P ’15. Gomes-Casseres shared Louis Brandeis’ three rules for being a professional in business and provided advice for embodying those principles in light of the current global climate. 

“You must conduct your professional life in a way that honors what Louis Brandeis stood for,” said Gomes-Casseres, outlining Brandeis’ principles of using your brain, working well with others and measuring success beyond profit. 

“Business is a team sport, not a solitary one. We must set for ourselves a higher standard of success…which comes from creating something of value, not just extracting it for yourself. You must follow where your own heart leads you. Your conduct can help solve some of the real problems in our world. That is what it means to be World Ready.” 

Though the Class of 2017 has just begun its journey as the newest addition to the business school’s global alumni network, their impact on the future of business, economics and finance has already begun to take shape. This year’s graduates have secured positions at organizations including John Hancock, Bank of America, JP Morgan, the Center for International Development and Digitas. 

Interim Dean Peter Petri encouraged the graduates to use the international environment at the business school as a model for professional success. “Research tells us that diverse teams are more productive and innovative,” he noted. 

“It is especially satisfying to build bridges across cultures with people from countries that are thousands of miles away with thousands of years of history that are different from your own. It is these intercultural, international experiences that make our students and alumni stronger professionals and better people.”