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Passion, Positive Attitude, and Finishing What You Start are Keys to Success, Asserts Deloitte CEO and Alumnus in Speech to Graduating Seniors

May 15, 2012
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Joseph Echevarria (BBA ’78), CEO of Deloitte, addressed students during the spring 2012 undergraduate commencement ceremony.

Success comes by way of passion and a positive attitude. This was the underlying message from School of Business alumnus and CEO of Deloitte, Joseph Echevarria (BBA ’78), the leader of one of the nation’s largest professional services firms, in his spring 2012 commencement speech to the more than 400 students graduating with bachelor’s degrees from the School.

“All great things in life are achieved by people who have passion,” said Echevarria, who is chair of the School’s Board of Overseers and a member of the UM Board of Trustees. Echevarria began saying his speech would be impromptu because he learned “it is better to speak from the heart.”  

After graduating from the School of Business, Echevarria joined Deloitte, rose quickly within the firm and was admitted, as an audit partner, into the partnership in 1988. Since then, he has held many leadership positions within Deloitte, including U.S. managing partner of operations, vice chairman, U.S. deputy managing partner, regional managing partner of the Southeast Audit Practice, audit partner in charge of Florida, and audit partner in charge of South Florida, before becoming chief executive officer in 2011.

Echevarria offered graduates three pieces of advice for succeeding in their future endeavors. He advised the graduating students to first and foremost, do everything with a passion and positive attitude, and to always remember that “it’s the choices you make that define you; you are not defined by anything else.” He also stressed to students that they should always finish what they start, which he credits for having “a lot to do with who I am today.” He is currently the highest-ranking Hispanic executive at any professional services firm in the world, and part of a select number of Hispanic CEOs of major companies in the nation.

John Daniels (left), the Samuel N. Friedland Chair and professor of management, was recognized for his over 10 years of service to the School by University Provost Thomas J. LeBlanc.

Echevarria explained his rise to the top was a long journey, and one that began when he worked at a gas station making 50 cents an hour. It was clear his positive outlook on life played as large a role as his determination and perseverance, as he left students with an optimistic message despite the turbulent economy and scarce job market as they go on to pursue graduate degrees or join the corporate world. “Be positive because we have an awful lot to be thankful for,” he said.

During the ceremony, Alex Rodriguez (BBA ’86), regional director of the UM Alumni Association, welcomed students to the esteemed group while John Daniels, the Samuel N. Friedland Chair and professor of management, who is retiring after more than 10 years of service to the School, was recognized.  

“My experience at the School was incredible,” said graduating finance major Colby Meyers. “I can’t imagine having spent four years anywhere else,” added Meyers, who received the Senior Class Leadership Award.

Graduate Ceremony

MBA graduates celebrated at a reception following their commencement ceremony.

More than 100 MBA and other master’s degree candidates participated in the Graduate Degree Ceremony the day before the undergraduate ceremony. Those awarded MBA degrees included 90 graduates from the School’s Full-time MBA Program and 48 graduates from the Executive MBA Program. Also participating were 11 MBA candidates in the Spanish language Master of Science in Professional Management (MSPM) Program who will receive degrees this summer.

Nilda Peragallo, dean of the School of Nursing and Health Studies addressed students at the commencement ceremony May 10. Peragallo is one of the nation’s foremost researchers in HIV/AIDS risk reduction and prevention in Latinos.

The School of Business graduates were among students graduating from the University of Miami during six ceremonies at the BankUnited Center May 10 to 12.

Commencement activities also included student and professor award ceremonies for both the undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as a reception for the graduates, their family and friends following each ceremony.

Read about undergraduate class of 2012 senior awards

Read about MBA class of 2012 student and faculty awards

View undergraduate reception photo gallery on Facebook

View graduate reception photo gallery on Facebook

View video of undergraduate ceremony

View video of graduate ceremony

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