We've seen some pretty great commencement speeches over the years. There was Steve Jobs' incredibly inspiring Stanford address in 2005, John Stewart's insightful speech to the graduating class of William and Mary in 2004 and Steven Colbert's hilarious 2011 address at Northwestern, but automotive executives aren't strangers to honorary degrees. Former General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner spoke at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011, and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne recently gave the keynote at Walsh College's 100th Commencement Ceremony. The executive knows a thing or two about success and following one's beliefs to fulfillment.

"I constantly encourage my co-workers at Fiat and Chrysler to go beyond the cliche and the conventional to try new approaches and change perspective each and every day," Marchionne said. "I exhort them not to repeat the same things, the same approaches, and I remind them they are indeed free. The freedom I am talking about is something inside you. It is determined by how open minded you remain, how receptive you are to the new and to the different, to the infinite possibilities that present themselves even if you don't go looking for them or could never have imagined. Being free means that you have the strength not to be conditioned by what others want you to do or by what may seem to be the easiest choice."

Amen to that. You can check out the brief press release on the address below as well as a video of a few highlights from the speech.



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Chrysler Group's Sergio Marchionne Addresses Graduates at Walsh College's 100th Commencement Ceremony

January 26, 2013 , Troy, Mich. - Chrysler Group LLC's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne addressed more than 2,000 students, faculty and family at Walsh College's 100th graduation ceremony on Saturday, January 26, at Zion Christian Church in Troy, Mich. Walsh College is one of Michigan's largest graduate business schools.

Chrysler Group has a long relationship with Walsh as nearly 548 alumni and 26 current students work at the Company.

Marchionne told the group of 200 plus graduates, "I constantly encourage my co-workers at Fiat and Chrysler to go beyond the cliché and the convention, to try new approaches and change perspective each and every day. I exhort them not to repeat the same things, the same approaches and I remind that they are indeed free. The freedom I'm talking about is something inside you."

It is determined by how open-minded you remain, how receptive you are to the new or different, to the infinite possibilities that present themselves even if you don't go looking for them or could never have imagined them. Being free means they have the strength not to be conditioned by what others want us to do or by what seems to be the easiest choice."

"I have no roadmap to give you for your own personal journey," he added. "Actually, the road you choose is really not important. What is very important is how you choose to travel along it. There are many doors along each of our paths, and behind each of those doors are things that can change us and our lives. But only those who have learned to appreciate every experience, whose minds are open to change, are capable of seeing those doors."

Marchionne touched on the opportunities ahead for the graduates, highlighting, "this is the greatest opportunity you have: the opportunity to dedicate yourselves, your dreams and your abilities to the enormously important project of creating the tomorrow that you want. The shape and meaning of tomorrow's society will be crafted by your ideals and by how you think and how you act. Every one of you has a contribution to make toward the creation of a better society."

Then said, "it is important not to lose the optimism, that sense of confidence in ourselves and in the future. It is important to keep going and keep passion alive. In my life I have never seen anyone make a dream come true without making the commitment to never stop fighting to make it real. The recent history of Chrysler is just an example of the kind of approach I'm talking about. Chrysler needed to regain faith in itself and view the future as an extraordinary opportunity. It needed to adopt a culture of change as necessity, respond to uncertainty as a challenge, and began measuring itself daily against its competitors and ultimately the market. The people of Chrysler are an example of refusing to despair but rather choosing to stand and fight. We demonstrated that by working hard, believing in ourselves and climbing back into the ring, we could change the course of events."

He concluded with a challenge to move with agility and decisiveness as the greatest quality of the Fiat and Chrysler family of organizations.

"My challenge to all of our employees is to exploit that opportunity to the fullest. And I hope some of you will consider taking that challenge with us. If you do, extraordinary opportunities will open before you in both your professional and your personal lives. You will have the chance to contribute your talents and your aspirations to the even grander and nobler project of shaping and giving meaning to the society of the future. I don't believe we can have any higher aspiration than that."


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  • 26 Comments
      RGT881
      • 2 Years Ago
      I was at the ceremony to celebrate my graduation with Master of Science in Finance degree and his speech was fantastic. Not only that, but he was on stage to shake hands with every single graduate either Ph.D. Master's of Undergraduate. Very down to earth man, very well educated and you know what, I like him. When it was my turn to walk up, I wished him luck in Formula 1 this season.
        Dane Grant
        • 2 Years Ago
        @RGT881
        I got a wonderful chill after I read your comment... I want to wish YOU luck on your future! Congratulations!
      tiger
      • 2 Years Ago
      How can people comment in a negative way on this very successful gentleman's powerful speech ? He did not suggest that our government must be involved nor that our government must be part of our success. This freedom he speaks of is the foundation of our country's success. We have lost that and it is unfortunate.
      • 2 Years Ago
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        Donny Hoover
        • 2 Years Ago
        That may be true but there are a lot of wrangler and off-road nuts out there. I find it really hard to believe that they wouldn't sell every diesel model they made, just like they do with the regular ones right now. More likely, they have already maxed out their production capability so they see no point in it. The torque and improved range are both huge advantages for anybody wanting to go exploring off road. It is literally a perfect match for the wrangler. I'm definitely in the enthusiast minority so my say in the matter is very small, but the only reason there is not a wrangler in my driveway right now is because they canned the diesel in the states. Not only that, I bought a car from a different brand, and have no desire to own any other new cars that Fiat/Chrysler have to offer. They'll get my money if, and when they green light it.
          MAX
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Donny Hoover
          They're selling every Wrangler they can produce as it is. I'm sure diesels will come to the US at some point especially now that Grand Cherokees, Durangos and Ram 1500's ares getting them.
          Kyle
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Donny Hoover
          Max is right, and until they need new engine options in order to sell more Wranglers, and more capacity to build/buy the new CRD, Wranglers will make due with the Pentastar engine.
      damienreiduae
      • 2 Years Ago
      No auto exec is world famous beyond websites like these.
        MAX
        • 2 Years Ago
        @damienreiduae
        Marchionne is world famous and that's why it's newsworthy. Carlos Ghosn is also. Lee Iaccoca was and of course there's Henry Ford. I'd go so far as to say Marchionne is the new Steve Jobs.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @MAX
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      Clipper44
      • 2 Years Ago
      So did the podium have cup holders or not??
      David Champion
      • 2 Years Ago
      autoexec.bat ?
      th0mb0ne
      • 2 Years Ago
      Conans Harvard speech is still most entertaining speech I've ever heard.
      • 2 Years Ago
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      • 2 Years Ago
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