School of Business: Volkswagen CEO advises grad students

Stefan Jacoby, president and chief executive officer of Volkswagen of America, urged doctoral and graduate students in the GW School of Business to be respectful of other cultures in the global economy at the school’s graduation ceremony Friday night.

Jacoby – who has lived all over the world in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, and Japan – told the more than 200 graduates that the world is interconnected and graduates should think and act globally in order to succeed.

“You have probably heard the slogan, ‘Think global, act global.’ ” Jacoby said. “The world’s most vibrant companies have to have a strong global brand, but remain sensitive to local cases and cultural values.”

Companies that are successful on a global scale, he said, are those that are sensitive to local and cultural differences.

“Competing businesses in our global economy – companies like Volkswagen, companies like Apple, Coca-Cola or Microsoft – find a way to tap into our common emotions and desires while respecting regional and international differences,” Jacoby said.

Murat Tarimcilar, associate dean for graduate programs, said he was proud of and humbled by the graduating class who sat before him.

“With creativity and courage, your education will continue throughout your life and career and you will all be just as well equipped to tackle the problems of today and the future,” he said.

Student speaker Bob Charles, who received a master’s degree in business administration, encouraged his fellow graduates not to do what is expected of them, but to follow their hearts and live up to their full potential.

“What does your instinct tell you to do?” Charles asked the graduates. “What prides you? What scares you? What motivates you? What moves you? Think about these things, because it’s now that matters.”

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