Under the towering ceiling of Comcast Center, 780 undergraduates, 300 MBA students, 50 EMBA students, and 12 doctoral students received their business degrees from the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business on May 21, 2007.
Delivering the keynote address was Teresa Iannaconi, MBA 78, partner with Big Four accounting firm KPMG and member of its Board of Directors. Iannaconi spoke from her extensive experience in regulation and compliance, including nearly 20 years with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Iannaconi spoke at the Smith School's Business Ethics Lecture Series last fall, and is profiled in the current issue of Smith Business magazine.
Iannaconi remembered the gender bias she experienced as a woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry, as well as the difficulty of negotiating the work-life balance before it was even called the work-life balance. While employed at the SEC she pursued an MBA, and had actually begun work for a PhD when the opportunity came to live in Italy for a few years, courtesy of her husbands job. Despite the fact that it derailed her academic career, Iannaconi jumped at the chance to spend some time abroad. Don't pass up the opportunity for adventure, she advised students.
After her return from Italy, Iannaconi used her network to get a job at the SEC again, and went on to hold the highest-ranking accounting position ever held by a woman at the SEC.
Later, at KPMG, Iannaconi became founding chairman of the KPMG Ethics and Compliance Committee, which allowed her to influence the corporate culture of this giant accounting firm on a subject dear to her heart. Ethics means more to me than job security. Ethics involved doing the right thing, in the right way, at the right time, because I'm a member of a broad community, and I want that community to thrive, and not merely survive.
No one involved in the recent, highly-publicized accounting scandals woke up one morning thinking that today would be the day they cook the books or steal corporate funds, said Iannaconi. The moral of the story is simply don't start to compromise, even a little. Because once one that begins, it is impossible to control.
MBA student speaker Susannah Campbell is a marketing professional with more than a decade in brand management, public relations and advertising. Campbell was a Dingman Scholar for Entrepreneurship and served as the chief company analyst for the Capital Access Network, a seed- and early-stage investor network, and as an associate with the New Markets Growth Fund, a $20 million venture fund stationed at the Smith School. She will join the brand management team at Campbell's Soup Company in New Jersey this fall.
Campbell spoke about her experiences in the Smith School and how she learned from both classmates and professors. Being with diverse students from many countries helped her think about the world in a different way, a benefit of being at the Smith School that is not always easy to duplicate in the working world. Embrace opportunities to learn from the greater global community, she urged classmates.
Undergraduate speaker Vanessa Sitler graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. in Finance and Accounting. Sitler is a member of the both University Honors and Business Honors programs. She is a Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar and has received the Ernst & Young Education Excellence Awards and a University of Maryland Presidents Scholarship. She talked about some of the problems she perceived in America today, including the plight of the uninsured and violence in the Middle East, and challenged her fellow undergraduates to do something great with their lives, but also something meaningful.
Dean Howard Frank presided over the ceremonies. The National Anthem was performed by Adeline Heymann. Julia Pulzone '84, MBA '93 - president of the Smith School alumni chapter - welcomed graduates to the alumni association.
Rebecca Winner, Office of Marketing Communications; Photos by Alissa Arford-Leyl and Carrie Taschner; Professional Photo of Teresa Ianaconi by Lisa Helfert