December 2008 Speaker

Richard Perlmutter

Comcast Center was full of good cheer as the Smith School celebrated the commencement of 200 undergraduates, 120 MBAs, 48 MS in Business/Accounting students, and two doctoral students on December 21.

Richard Perlmutter, principal co-founder of Argo Investment Corp and keynote speaker at commencement, urged students in his commencement address to weather the “economic tsunami” by looking at it as a time to invest in their personal growth. “The current environment couldn't be a better time to add value to your career and position yourself to benefit from the coming recovery,” said Perlmutter. “If you're a good listener and observer, this will be a tremendous growth period for you. You will have the advantage of learning valuable life lessons from the mistakes of others rather than making them yourself.”

Perlmutter also encouraged students to be open-minded and flexible when considering their options. “Some of the best things in my life have been unplanned. Back in the late 1980's, the real estate world started to decline at an ever increasing pace, just like today. By being flexible and anticipating changing market conditions, I revised my plan and moved from a successful development company, where I had just been made partner, to a sick, commercial bank, with enough bad real estate loans to sink a ship,” said Perlmutter. “Those five years provided me with the tools and learning experiences to build a very productive and exciting career.”

Perlmutter’s company developed Downtown Silver Spring, a project that brought new life to a dying urban center. Today Perlmutter’s company is working with the University of Maryland to create a retail, office and residential development in East Campus, which will transform and revitalize the community around campus. Both projects demonstrate Perlmutter’s interest in creating more livable, dynamic, sustainable communities.

He is a member of the Smith School’s Board of Visitors and has been actively engaged with the Smith School. Students attending Business Week, the school’s back-to-school events and activities, benefited from his expertise last semester, and he will serve as a judge in the Pitch Dingman competitions in the spring semester.

Smith School undergraduate Ilana Jolson and part-time MBA student Alison Cherry also delivered commencement remarks.