Pearce offers guidance to grads, announces scholarship at commencement

Craig L. Pearce offered the commencement address to Penn State DuBois graduates and their families during spring commencement ceremonies in the campus gymnasium May 10. Pearce is a Penn State DuBois alumnus and pioneer of shared leadership and scholarship practice. Pearce is the founding director of the Deloitte Leadership Institute at Ozyegin University in Istanbul. He was formerly the dean of the School of Business and Entrepreneurship at the American University of Nigeria and was the Donald Clifton Chair in Leadership and the director of the Institute for Innovative Leadership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Previously, he worked with Peter Drucker at the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito School of Management.

Pearce offered graduates seven brief thoughts to help guide them to success in their careers and in life. They were: time is the most important resource you have, visualize the future, celebrate the milestones, find mentors, redefine failure, sincerely appreciate people and leave a legacy. He then explained each piece of advice, imparting wisdom that he, himself, has gleaned from life experience. 

"Life is ephemeral and life is eternal," Pearce said. "I once had a friend who said to me, in Spanish, 'La vida es un relampago.' It means that life is like a bolt of lightning; it happens in a flash. I have always liked that saying.  It helps to remind me that time is precious. Time is ephemeral. It is the only resource that truly disappears.   Add to that the fact that the older we become the faster times seems to pass by. It seems like only yesterday that I was first coming onto this very campus yet here I am today over three decades later.

"Yesterday, literally, you had a rehearsal for today’s event. Life, however, is staged in real time. There is no rehearsal. The upshot is that you need to think carefully about your course of action and make everything count."

A critical piece of advice Pearce gave to graduates came in his lesson on visualizing the future. He advised students to make it clear to themselves what they want out of life, and to not be afraid to go and get it. He said, "When I was a junior at Penn State, just after I moved to State College, I sat down and created a life plan. It seemed audacious to my friends. I wanted to be a professor; I wanted to be a writer; I wanted to help create more humane, sustainable organizations where people could feel proud of their contributions and accomplishments; and I wanted to find a life partner. I did not know it at the time but research is extremely clear that the more concrete you set your goals the more likely you are to be successful. I have achieved all of those things on my list, including marrying my brilliant and beautiful bride, who is here today in the audience."

Additionally, Pearce asked graduates to change their way of thinking from societal norms, particularly when it comes to how most people view failure. 

"Generally we think of failure as a terrible thing; a final, tragic state; an unredeemable situation. I challenge you, however, to think of failure as a temporary setback on the way to success. When we change our thinking in this way it liberates us to experiment. Thomas Edison once said, 'I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.'"

Pearce received his bachelor of science degree with honors and distinction in management and a minor in psychology (1987) from Penn State, his master of business administration degree in management (1988) from The University of Wisconsin-Madison and a doctorate in management and organization (1997) from The University of Maryland-College Park.

His research interests are shared leadership, hierarchical leadership, ethics/sustainability/corporate social responsibility and organizational performance. His work has appeared in many top academic journals and his book, "The Drucker Difference," published by McGraw-Hill, has been reprinted in 10 languages. Pearce’s many awards include the Center for Creative Leadership in the Walter F. Ulmer Applied Research Award competition in 1997, the Ascendant Scholar Award from the Western Academy of Management in 2004 and the Asia Pacific Human Resource Leadership Award from the Asia Pacific Human Resource Congress in 2008.

Pearce is also a co-founder of an agricultural biotechnology company and an active keynoted speaker and consultant to business organizations including American Express, Behlen Manufacturing, British Bakeries, Central Intelligence Agency of the United States of America, Land Rover, GEICO Insurance, Panda Restaurant Group, Rayovac, Pickering Foods, Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, The Rouse Company, Rover Cars, Serono, SK Group Korea and SmartScan Imaging.

In closing his commencement address, Pearce announced that he and his family have established the Pearce Family Scholarship at Penn State DuBois to help students on campus achieve their success. For Pearce, the establishment of the scholarship is one way to follow his own advice. 

"Life is eternal because our actions and deeds affect those around us and live on well beyond our bodies.  Try to think long term how you would like to be remembered.  What will be your legacy?"

Last Updated May 12, 2014