Business Columns & Blogs

Here’s how CEOs would advise a high school senior class on its last day

CEOs were asked: It’s now graduation season. What advice would you give to a high school senior class on its last day?
CEOs were asked: It’s now graduation season. What advice would you give to a high school senior class on its last day? AP file


Remember that a commencement exercise is just the beginning. In order to compete in today’s job market, you have to commit to a lifetime of continuous learning. Develop your professional or vocational skills and stay up to date on the latest technology as you pursue your career.

Tony Argiz, chairman, CEO, Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC (MBAF)


If you are headed to college and that is truly what you want to do, then go for it. Otherwise, take a gap year and explore who you are and what you want to do. Learning is not confined to a school environment.

Jennifer Cramer, CEO, co-founder, The Spice Lab


Enjoy your Summer, it might be the last time you have total independence at all levels. Hopefully you did your "homework" and you have a job lined up for Fall so take that time to Rest, Explore and savor your accomplishment. "

Maurice R. Ferré, CEO, chairman, INSIGHTEC


As you begin this next chapter of your life, seek to find your true passion. Be open to new paths and ideas. You might change your mind along the way, and that’s okay. This world is unpredictable and being able to recognize the change in course will lead you closer to reaching your potential. Connect personally with those around you: Friends, peers, professors and employers. These interactions and connections will help you grow intellectually and emotionally. Empathy and the care for others will push you outside of your comfort zone to do things you never thought you could. Lastly, be true to yourself and be a person of values. Your integrity is the foundation for your future; don’t compromise it. Most things can be learned and mastered, but the essence of who you are will always define you.

Adriana Jaegerman, senior principal, managing leader, Stantec


I would begin by telling them that you can divide any graduating high school glass into two groups: The 1 percent who absolutely know (or think they know) exactly what they want their career path to be, and the other 99 percent who aren’t sure. If you are lucky to in that one percent called to a profession, you are ahead of the rest and you should pursue your dream relentlessly. However, your passion should first be reconciled with your actual skills and abilities, your financial priorities and the economic reality of your chosen profession. It is critical for you to spend time interning in your planned career, understanding the pros and cons, and assessing whether the financial benefits of the career will meet your personal priorities. To the other 99 percent: Go to college and keep learning. Cultivating your curiosity and pursuing a lifelong habit of learning will invariably chart your course for success, wherever it is destined to lie, whether or not it comes via a “Eureka!” moment or whether, like most of us, your career is defined through countless trials, changes, and personal reinventions. (I’ve been practicing law for more than 30 years and I still have no idea what I want to do if/when I “grow up”).

José E. Latour, founding partner, LatourLaw


The advice that I would give is to attend a community college to save money for the college or university of their choice in the final two years. I would also recommend making it a habit to read or listen to books on tape. Learning is a lifelong endeavor and reading will ensure continued professional growth. A few books I would recommend are “Outliers the Story of Success,” by Malcolm Gladwell and “The Art of Power” by Thich Nhat Hanh. Both of these books have helped me be more successful in my personal and professional life. Lastly, I would stress the importance of good credit and identifying a great mentor.

Beatrice Louissaint, president, CEO, Florida State Minority Supplier Development Council


My advice to high school seniors would be to seize the moment, never take for granted the opportunities that you have been given, always thank the people in your life who have been helpful and who have guided you through this journey, and to know that the best days of your life are ahead of you! Also, don’t forget that this is the phase in your life when you learn all about independence — try to find balance; make sure to work very hard, but also don’t forget to have fun! Lastly, and on a serious note, do not underestimate the impact social media can have on your future endeavors — everything you post is accessible forever, even to future employers.

Melissa Medina, president, eMerge


None of us achieves anything without the help of others. So, personally thank your special teachers, your family members and your friends who gave you their support along your high school journey. Strive to achieve your dreams in work and life so you can, in turn, become a source of inspiration and support to those coming up behind you.

John Quelch, vice provost, University of Miami Dean, Miami Business School and Leonard M. Miller University Professor


Have the courage to follow your inner voice — it will direct you to your dreams. Live your dreams and do not waste time chasing other’s dreams for you. Seek, commit, complete. As Steve Jobs was fond of saying, “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones that do.” Go out and change your world!

Kelly Ramsden, managing partner, Office Edge and Legal Edge


Congratulations! Take time to celebrate this important accomplishment. Be ready for change, but also have a set of goals you want to accomplish. Don’t be discouraged if the next step (first job, internship, class) is not exactly what you had in mind. You never know where it will lead, and the unexpected can turn out to be great. Join different groups, forge connections with people you’re unfamiliar with. These people will bring new experiences into your world (and may even help you get a job one day.) Learning about others will help you learn more about yourself. Also, remember to keep the ones that have been closest to your heart in your world. These friends and family have stood by you and will most likely continue to do so.

Chana Sheldon, executive director, MOCA





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