“Set Your Sights High.” Mellody Hobson Gives Career Advice To USC’s Class of 2015 In An Inspiring Commencement Speech.

Mellody Hobson
(GETTY Images)

Mellody Hobson is an African American businesswoman and the current director of the Estee Lauder and Starbucks Corporation, the president of the Chicago-based money management firm Ariel Investments, and Chairwoman of Dreamworks Animation. Her career in finance and business, which spans nearly 25 years, started with an internship at Ariel Investments, LLC, the largest black-owned investments fund in the country.
Hobson recently delivered a rousing commencement address to the University of Southern California’s Class of 2015. She shared some golden advice in her speech, which will definitely be useful to anyone embarking on a new part of their life and starting a career.

She told the recents grads, “However you define success, set your sights high. Be a hard grader on yourself.”

“When I started in money management, I knew I was competing with people who were more knowledgeable and better connected,” she continued. “But the one thing I could do is outwork them. And I did. If I didn’t understand something, I’d ask questions. If I didn’t know how to do something, I’d ask to learn. Most people don’t want to admit they don’t know something. I do. All the time. So, don’t pretend you know more than you do. In fact, I’m jealous of you. You’ve got years you can milk because you’re new. Make the most of it.”

Hobson also gave some “Lean In” style advice,

“[…] I urge you to participate fully, not in a smug or cocky way, but with humility combined with confidence. Be willing to speak up and stand out. I know first-hand that this can be especially hard for women and minorities determined to fit in. I’ve seen so many young women hang back, adopting the attitude, “Tell me what you want me to be and I’ll be it.” A far better approach is to say, “This is who I am and I have value. And I hope you will accept it, but if you don’t, I’m still good with who I am.”

PS. During the commencement ceremony, California Attorney General, and Senate candidate, Kamala Harris was awarded with an honorary degree.