Anadarko CEO James Hackett speaks to University of St. Thomas 2008 Graduates about Leadership and Success
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Chairman, President and CEO James T. Hackett spoke about three key aspects of leadership and success – passion, courage and service – in his address to the 2008 graduating class of the University of St. Thomas. A crowd of family and friends gathered on May 17 at Reliant Arena to celebrate the achievements of 350 undergraduate students and 425 graduate students.
Hackett and Trini Mendenhall Sosa both received honorary doctorate degrees at the ceremony. The late Sarah “Sally” Landram, UST class of 1954, was the posthumous recipient of the Vincent J. Guinan Distinguished Alumni Award.
Hackett told graduates that society needs their leadership, but assured them leadership need not come with a formal title or designation. “Anybody can be a leader, at any time, as long as they are willing to serve others,” Hackett said.
He spoke about how it is vital to remain passionate about one’s course in life.
“While it’s nice to reap the financial rewards that come with a ‘successful career,’ a paycheck alone does not make what you are doing worthwhile. If you have money as your sole goal, I promise that you will both be miserable and ineffective in leading others,” Hackett advised the graduates. “As you evaluate the choices in your life, continue to pick a path that leads to something that is important to you at a gut level … be it a career, a volunteer opportunity, or the way your serve your family, your friends, your community, or your church.”
Hackett went on to say, “Passion is contagious. Our best teachers and our best leaders had it in spades. Just think back on those that made the biggest impression on you. The best motivation of others comes by passion. Never underestimate its power and always choose a path that maintains your passion.”
He implored the UST students to employ courage in their lives. He called upon the students to be courageous for the benefit of free enterprise, democracy and the care of the helpless. In this age of often unreliable sources of information, Hackett warned the graduates to become fully informed, and to exercise caution before they exercise courage.
“That is why education is so important to society. It makes all of us critically examine the information we receive. Don’t lose that critical view of ideas and information when you leave here. Do continue to research topics important to each of you. Learning is not a destination, but rather a journey, which is only refined by formal education.”
Hackett commented that it takes courage to continue to defend against political repression in countries where democracy is denied and where the greatest human misery occurs. He reminded the audience of their moral obligation to assist those in need.
“We must provide a fisherman’s net for those who cannot help themselves by retraining displaced workers, providing for the elderly, and ministering to the physically and mentally ill on a fair and equal basis. All of us that are healthy and achieve success will be, certainly, and properly, called upon to take care of our neighbors.”
Finally, Hackett spoke about the merits of servant leadership. He said servant leaders have humility, and aren’t afraid to “get their hands dirty.” They are kind, and stay vigilant to people going through hard times, because one never knows how and when they can make a difference in another person’s life. He said servant leaders have moral courage to stand up for what is right, and to resist the temptation of short-term gains.
Hackett concluded his address by sharing the words of the late Robert Kennedy, words which Hackett said are just as valid today as they were 30 years ago.
“You are living in one of the rarest moments in history – a time when all around us the old order of things is crumbling and a new world society is painfully struggling to take shape,” Kennedy said. “If you shrink from this struggle, and the many difficulties it entails, you will betray the trust which your own position forces upon you. You live [or study] in the most privileged nation on earth. (Many of) you are the most privileged citizens of that privileged nation; for you have been given the opportunity to learn…and to lead. You can use your enormous privilege and opportunity to seek purely private pleasure and gain. But history will judge you, and – as the years pass – you will judge yourself – on the extent to which you have used your gifts to lighten and enrich the lives of your fellow man. In your hands is the future of your world and fulfillment of the best qualities of your own spirit.”
Read more about five remarkable May 2008 graduates:
UST Student Commencement Speaker Learns the Meaning of Perseverance
He had his doubts. It started out rocky – spending his freshman year living in a hotel due to the damaging effects of Tropical Storm Allison. Despite his trials and tribulations Derek Smith has succeeded in securing a baccalaureate degree and will be the UST student commencement speaker.
UST Graduate Turns Obstacles into Opportunities
A college education often leads students to embark upon a journey of self-actualization, allowing them to begin to comprehend their life’s purpose. UST graduate Michael Butler, can relate to these sentiments, as his experiences at UST, he says, have helped strengthen his understanding of God’s purpose for his life.
University of St. Thomas Student To Graduate Among First Class of Bioinformatics Majors
Future dental patients may have the chance to receive progressive procedures and treatments, all because Kayleigh Eaves, a University of St. Thomas graduate and aspiring dentist, took a chance on being one of the first students in the new degree field of bioinformatics.
International Studies Graduate Changes Her Global Perspective
As a freshman, Claudia Espinosa thought she would spend college with her flute in practice rooms and performance halls. She never dreamed she would promote trade justice by distributing fair trade bananas coffee and chocolate. She never imagined she would learn about social justice while traveling in Mexico and Argentina.
Kristi Carreon Pursues College Dreams, Refuses to Become Statistic
Teen mother, high school dropout – for the last 17 years, Kristi Carreon has lived with labels. Now she is proud to have a new label: college graduate.