UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Karen Quintos didn’t offer pearls of wisdom or a Top 10 list of tips on Sunday to the Penn State Smeal College of Business graduates gathered in the Bryce Jordan Center.
Instead, she shared her gratitude.
“Thank you for showing up, not just here this morning, getting out of bed early, but in the moments and to the places that matter the most — in our lives and in our communities,” she said.
“And thank you for giving the world a wake-up call that it so desperately needs and deserves.”
Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer of Dell, delivered the 2019 Smeal commencement address.
She leads a global organization devoted to customer advocacy and helps define and develop Dell’s customer experience strategy and programs. Quintos also is responsible for Dell’s strategy and programs for diversity and inclusion and corporate social responsibility.
She previously served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer, vice president of public sector marketing and North America commercial. She also held executive roles in services, support and supply chain management.
Quintos joined Dell in 2000 from Citigroup, where she was vice president of global operations and technology. She also spent 12 years with Merck in marketing, operations and supply chain leadership positions.
Smeal conferred degrees to more than 1,400 students in three different spring ceremonies. The college graduated 1,264 undergraduate students, 74 students from the integrated Master of Accounting Program, three doctoral students, 43 Master of Management and Organizational Leadership students, and 58 MBA students.
Quintos detailed three alliterative beliefs she said this class of graduates is known for: authenticity, advocacy and action.
“What have you taught us about authenticity? You’ve told us to tell the truth, work hard, be humble, be optimistic, take accountability and, at the end of the day, just be nice,” she said.
She said that in a time when the world is constantly trying to steal hope, this class accentuates the positive.
From there, Quintos moved on to advocacy, and she talked about several facets this year’s graduates focus on.
“You see the whole person. You don’t just see them based on their color, race, gender or socioeconomic background. You see the whole potential of the individual,” she said.
“Part of this is because you are America’s most diverse generation in history. And it’s also because you’re open minded and transparent. You’re challenging the status quo of what is right and what is wrong. Your generation is waking up sleepy corporations and governments around the world, demanding that they take a stand on what matters.”
Finally, Quintos talked about action, specifically purpose-driven action.
“You are a generation of gratitude. You help those who are less fortunate. You’re using your talents to do good. Purpose is your North Star. It is guiding and directing your actions,” she said.
Quintos ended her address by offering one piece of advice, that relationships really matter.
“You will soon discover that there is a small number of people in your life that shaped who you are and what you will become,” she said.
“So, on this day of your celebration, I want you to think about who yours are. Then I want you to pick up an old school pen and a piece of paper and I want you to write them a hand-written note. And I want you to do it in the next 48 hours, before you forget.”
The 2019 Smeal commencement video can be found online.