Akerson Urges Columbia Business Grads to Life of Service

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The FINANCIAL — Leading people and organizations also requires a commitment to serving them, General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson told business school graduates in commencement remarks Sunday at Columbia University.


“What is leadership? Akerson asked. “It’s character, integrity. It’s competence. It’s hard work. It’s making the hard decisions, not just the easy ones. It manifests itself in your relationships, your marriage, your family, your community and your company.”

According to General Motores, Akerson, who became GM’s CEO in 2010 following the automaker’s exit from bankruptcy reorganization, said he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and entered the civilian world in the days when the term “misery index” was created.

“And at that time, I tried to formulate a life’s plan that would define who I was. The construct I envisioned was based on what I saw lacking in our society then – leadership and service,” he said. “They go together, hand in glove, because you cannot lead people or an organization without a commitment to serving them as well.”



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