As Schuckenbrock bids them good luck, he knows they are the game-changers.
“We are at the point where today’s graduates can be the change agents for tomorrow,” he said. “I want to encourage them to maintain that edge.”
Steve Schuckenbrock, Class of 1982, graduated Elon University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has since risen to president of Dell Services, but Schuckenbrock’s principle values apply to even those foreign to the business and technology world.
“Find what you love,” he said. ”Be determined. Be passionate about achieving results in that field, whatever the field may be. Don’t be afraid to reinvent what things get done.”
Schuckenbrock, who lives in Texas with his wife, Becky, and their five children, will return to Elon in May to deliver the 122nd commencement address. The 2012 commencement speaker identifies a connection between his field and the graduating class. This is the first graduating class to have used the Internet their entire lives, he said.
Employers attribute a certain attitude and skill sets to today’s graduates that provide them with unique opportunities to contribute to society and the global economy, Schuckenbrock said.
“I think that makes him relate even more to this class because he is at the forefront of one of the companies that is making the Internet what it is and giving people access to the Internet,” said Jeff Clark, executive director of cultural and special programs at Elon.
Clark works with the provost to generate a list of distinguished alumni and individuals affiliated with the university, which is then given to the senior class officers, who select their commencement speaker.
“We’re looking for people who are affiliated with Elon and who have been successful in their life after Elon,” Clark said.
Academically driven, Schuckenbrock completed college in two and a half years. The alumnus currently runs a global business of 43,00 employees, or team members, that conducts business in every corner of the globe.
Before working at Dell, Schuckenbrock served as executive vice president of global sales and client services for EDS, COO of the Feld Group, global CIO of PepsiCo, global CIO of Frito-Lay and also worked at IBM. He is a member of President Leo Lambert’s advisory council and received the 2010 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award.
While he said he valued his Elon education and relationship with professors, he attributes his success to lessons learned early in life.
“In a lot of ways, I think the values and the principles that you learn early in life, and that I certainly had a chance to continue at Elon, have served me exceptionally well, so fundamentally I have stayed true to those values,” Schuckenbrock said.
Intellectual curiosity and a desire to learn guided him throughout his college and professional careers, he said.
“I have always sought the opportunity to learn as much as I possibly can and gain appreciation of work and values of the company, and it’s a sort of continuous intellectual curiosity and desire to learn that has helped me the most,” Schuckenbrock said.
Pursuit of knowledge translates to listening and respecting others, which ultimately creates a successful community of shared ideas, he said.
“No matter what your job is, where you’re from, what your interests are, you deserve respect, and I think it is an easy thing to say, but it’s an easy thing to shortcut as careers develop,” Schuckenbrock said.
As graduates prepare for careers, he said he acknowledges the eagerness to find a paying job, but wants to encourage graduates to maintain perspective on what they truly love to do.
“I luckily found out if you don’t like what you do there’s not enough money in the world to make it satisfying,” he said. “And you don’t find that out right after college, you find that out when you get some experience under your belt.”