Business leader challenges graduates to take risks

To make it big in business, learn from failure, the leader of the second-largest female-owned construction firm in the country told School of Business graduates Friday.

Failure is a part of figuring out how to succeed, said Linda Rabbitt, the founder and chief executive officer of Rand Construction Corporation.

“If you spend your efforts trying to avoid failures, you will never do anything meaningful or learn anything important,” Rabbitt, also a University trustee, said.

She spoke of her gradual rise in the business world, starting out as a frustrated 32-year-old stuck in a teaching job, feeling like she lost a decade of her life.

“I had no money, I had no job, I had no career, no credit cards, two small children and only hopes and dreams,” Rabbitt said.

About 30 years later, she stood on stage and joked that her decision to address hundreds of graduates and their families showed her ability to take risks, urging the group to take chances as she did and avoid cutting corners in both business and life.

“Fear is what holds talented people back,” Rabbitt said. “So I suggest you do something totally out of your comfort zone every day, sort of like what I’m doing now.”

Murat Tarimcilar, the business school’s vice dean of programs and education, commended students and families for reaching graduation and posed the Class of 2012 a parting challenge.

“The degree you’re about to receive today gives you two things: potential and obligation,” he said, urging graduates to apply skills and lessons they picked up at the University going forward.

The world will change in unimaginable ways, Tarimcilar said, and graduates should remain passionate about their education and curious about how to better understand the world.

“With creativity and courage, your education will continue throughout your lives and your careers,” Tarimcilar said.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.