Farmer School Recognition Ceremony speakers hammer on having the right tools for the job of life

May 2018

Jay Murdock

Chances are that your mom or dad has told a story about you in front of friends or family. Andrew Carmichael got to hear it Sunday while surrounded by 1,000 members of his Farmer School family.

“When he was 16, he liked to tell me how little I knew. At 21, he said he was surprised at how smart I had become! And in just short five years!” Greg Carmichael remarked.

Carmichael, president, chairman, and CEO of Fifth Third Bancorp, was the featured speaker at the FSB Divisional Recognition Ceremony in Millett Hall on Sunday.

He told the graduates that even though they’ve been carrying bags around for classes for years, they need to now carry an internal “tool bag” with the things that will help them get through life.

The first thing graduates need, Carmichael explained, is their reputation.

“Always keep it sharp and clean. It’s extremely valuable, and extremely fragile. Reputation is something you build up over many years, but it’s something you can lose overnight. Protecting it should be your Job One,” he explained. “Never compromise your integrity. And it is important to always be yourself; it is too much work to be somebody else.”

Carmichael said the second necessary tool is mutually-beneficial, long-term relationships.

“Your parents, grandparents, older siblings and elders know more than you give them credit for. Venture beyond your comfort zone to establish meaningful relationships with mentors, community leaders and key colleagues,” he said. “Be sure to do your part to add value to the relationship, too. A relationship is a partnership. It requires give and take.”

Performance, Carmichael’s next tool, is critical because many people never end up working in the field in which they earned a college degree.

“The best way to get the next job is to excel in the job you’re in. Say “yes” to good opportunities as they come up, even if they aren’t part of your initial plan, and then work hard to perform well in every role. Always do what you say you are going to do and be accountable,” he explained.

The need for preparation, Carmichael noted, is constant.

“Being prepared means doing your homework -- even though you are no longer in school. It means knowing your subject, being able to clearly articulate your points and thinking through potential questions in advance. It means that if you come to someone with a problem, you also should come bearing a solution -- or at least some ideas to effectively address the issue at hand,” he said.

He defined his fifth tool, courage, as “the willingness to do things that are challenging and often uncomfortable. Success in both life and work requires courage. The great inventions and successes of the last few centuries were mostly the results of people with courage.”

But the tool Carmichael said he pulls from his bag most often is passion.

“Discovering your passion and honing your abilities are a large part of what these last few years at Miami have been about. As I said earlier, those things may not line up exactly with what’s on your diploma. That’s likely OK. Learning what interests you -- what really drives you and what you are passionate about -- is a big part of your education. It’s a big part of what will determine your success,” he remarked. “You, and only you, have the right to decide what your unique version of success looks like. Don’t measure your success against somebody else’s yardstick. It’s your life to live, your story to write. Go after what’s important to you, what you’re passionate about, and make sure you have the skills to get there.”

He also gave each of the graduates a “starting gift” of an actual Fifth Third bag, containing a savings account offer, a T-shirt, and a debit card with $166.70 -- “the mathematical equation for my bank.”

Carmichael closed his remarks with a quote from Winston Churchill -- “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Marketing major Marilyn Zubak gave the student address. She told the audience that the years spent at the Farmer School have given them the ability to succeed in any situation.

“I see college as an incubator for the real world, a training course for the practices and challenges we will be facing in our careers, and ultimately our lives. Whether mastering basic accounting skills or navigating the tough professor, we have been challenged to become wiser and stronger individuals,” she said. “Simply put, our Farmer experience has taught us how to figure it out. And it has done this by putting us in unfamiliar situations, teaching us the tools to navigate these situations, and providing a phenomenal network of people to guide us along the way.”

“We do not know the answers to these upcoming what-ifs, but find comfort in the fact that, from what I can tell, no one does. Shuffling through the tools we learned in our education, and learning from our experiences are what make Miami graduates so successful,” Zubak pointed out. “I implore you to keep putting yourself in these “what if” situations, constantly acquire more tools, and genuinely connect with others. And when you do achieve the big promotion, solve your company’s million dollar question or finally find what you’re supposed to be doing, remember where you first learned to figure it out.”

We are proud of our newest alumni and look forward to hearing about the next stage in their journeys.

Visit our Facebook page to see more photos from the ceremony.

Greg Carmichael speaks to Farmer School graduates Marilyn Zubak speaks to Farmer School graduates Farmer School graduates attend the Divisional Recognition Ceremony Parents and family watch Farmer School graduates march in Amber Hallmann hugs Dr. Jim Friedman after receiving her diploma cover A graduate holds up her diploma cover for a photo A graduate holds up her diploma cover for a photo A graduate holds up her diploma cover for a photo