Speech by Rector Enrique Bolaños Commencement Ceremony - June 10, 2019

21 de June 2019

Speech by Rector Enrique Bolaños

Specialized MBA, MBA LL1, EMBA, EMA Commencement Ceremony

Monday June 10, 2019 | Campus Walter Kissling Gam 

Dr. Nitin Nohria, Dean, Harvard Business School,

Dr. Roberto Artavia, Chairman of the Board,

INCAE Board Members,

Members of INCAE’s National Committee in Costa Rica,

Representatives of the Government of Costa Rica,

Representatives of the Accredited Diplomatic Corps in Costa Rica,

Doctors Harry Strachan and Arturo Condo, Former Rectors of INCAE

Special Guests and Faculty Members,

Dear graduates of the MBA, the EMBA, and the EMA programs and their families proudly accompanying them,

Dear members of the MAE I Program who graduated in 1969 and of the MAE XI Program who graduated in 1979 who today honor us with their presence,



I am honored to stand today before 152 students of the Master’s in Business Administration Program, 44 students of the Executive Master’s in Business Administration Program, and 33 students of the Executive Master’s in Business Analytics Program, that is, 229 graduates in all, 79 women and 150 men from 14 different countries. After much effort, dedication, commitment and sacrifice they have completed their INCAE’s master's programs.

Today you are becoming INCAE alumni, joining an extensive network of graduates who are proudly called so. Congratulations from all of us at INCAE for this great achievement. I take this opportunity to congratulate each of your family members and friends who have been accompanying you during this process and supporting you every step of the way. I am sure this support has been key to your successes.

Fifty years ago, on June 21, 1969, Dr. Ernesto Cruz, then Rector of INCAE, was on a stand at the newly inaugurated Campus in Nicaragua, facing the first class of INCAE’s MBA program graduates. He was accompanied by Dr. George F. Baker, Dean of Harvard Business School.

Today, I am the one privileged to stand before you, in this Walter Kissling Gam Campus here in Alajuela. Like my predecessor, I have the honor of being accompanied today by the Dean of Harvard Business School Dr. Nitin Nohria.

Dean Nohria, we are very pleased to have you at this graduation ceremony.

Today we are commemorating INCAE’s MBA program 50th anniversary. The 50th anniversary of the graduation of those 29 young people, including a woman, who were with Dr. Cruz and Dean Baker in the newly inaugurated campus in Nicaragua. That campus is today called Francisco De Sola after Don Chico, a Central American visionary who worked hard to create INCAE.

And today we are privileged to have ten of those 29 graduates of our first MBA class. This is a pioneer group of graduates. I would like to take a moment to congratulate them on this milestone. I ask you to stand up:

Mario Alonso, from Nicaragua

Salvador Biguria, from Guatemala

Mariano Buitrago, from Nicaragua

Adrián Hidalgo, from Costa Rica

Ángel Interiano, from El Salvador

Benigno Jiménez, from Costa Rica

Lamberto Mantovani, from Panamá

Markus Neuweller, from Guatemala

Abelardo Sánchez, from Nicaragua

Virginia Zecca, from Costa Rica, wife of his classmate Angel Interiano

And I ask everyone to give you a round of applause.

We also have 25 graduates of the MAE XI Program, who are celebrating 40 years of graduation. In view of the Civil War in Nicaragua they could not have their commencement ceremony as it was suspended. I hope we have fulfilled their expectations to participate in an unforgettable commencement ceremony.

Since that first graduation of 29 young people, INCAE has evolved to be the school you know today. Now it has nearly 9,000 graduates of our master's programs; it is ranked number one in Latin America according to the Financial Times; it boasts a faculty whose experience matches its variety in expertise and gender; and it has impact and research centers addressing relevant issues in the region such as the Latin American Center for Competitiveness and Sustainable Development, the Center for Collaborative Leadership, and the Entrepreneurship Center.

For these 229 graduates, a path of effort, sacrifice and extensive study culminates today; at the same time, a route without turning back begins, where they must continue to test the tools received to act with excellence and rectitude, following their conscience.

I would like to take this time to talk about three topics, WORK, IMPACT, AND ETHICS, and to give you three pieces of advice, not only as Rector, but as a graduate of INCAE.

First, you must know that, as Thomas A. Edison once said, "there is no substitute for hard work." Constantly challenge yourselves, seek excellence, and never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. But do not forget to balance your professional and personal life. There is no professional success worth the failure of personal life.

I urge you never to stop learning. Continue reading, collecting data, staying at the forefront, and constantly improving your abilities. Learn not only from those above you but listen to your employees and learn from them as well. Know that leading your team is best achieved by example and humility.

Let's ask ourselves: What is the role I want to play in my society? What are the main problems in the environment where I live? What can I do?

I invite you not only to seek the welfare for your companies, but to get involved in your communities and societies, and directly impact those around you. As Michael Porter, Member of the Advisory Board of Harvard-INCAE once said: "The purpose of a business school is to offer more than managerial training, it should strengthen society. This is what makes INCAE unique... it is capable of having an influence beyond its size." Having such an influence is what I invite you to do today.

You are the class that can and MUST bring about the change our countries so badly need. Changes in development, institutionality, in the inclusive progress of our citizens, and in our values as a society. In developed countries with solid democracies, credible institutions and regulatory bodies the role of entrepreneurs can be limited exclusively to achieve maximum profitability. But in countries like ours, you as entrepreneurs will have a much greater responsibility than your profitability...

Our private sector leaders (that is, you) must ensure institutionality. You must make sure that we have good politicians to achieve sustainable, inclusive, long-term development through investment in education, in building strong institutions, and in searching a path of economic progress and well-being for all citizens. We must build our homeland correctly. This is what being an INCAE alumnus is all about.

I hope that when you will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of your graduation you will return to your campus and feel proud of your impact on the lives of those around you, and of the changes you promoted in your societies. That you have no regrets of what you could have done but rather pride on your record.

I ask you to always behave ethically. To be aware that the cancer corroding our societies is corruption. Always make decisions based on values and principles. Today we have with us Dean Noria who launched the MBA Pledge precisely because of the crisis of values he saw the end of the last decade, and we also have with us former Rector Arturo Condo who launched it at INCAE. Live by those values.

Know that there can be no successful companies in failed societies, so we need your individual commitment to develop your countries and move Latin America forward.

To conclude I ask you to never forget (1) continuous learning and risk-taking, (2) create the impact your societies need, and (3) never risk your personal integrity for your decisions or actions as employees, employers and even citizens. I ask you to make your daily decisions with rectitude and to be always proud of who you are.

I hope you never lose the essence, the purpose, and the motivation which one day brought you to study at INCAE Business School.

Remember that INCAE is your home today and always. Congratulations and much success!