2017 AGSB Commencement Speech by Hon. Carlos G. Dominguez
October 10, 2017
SERVANT-LEADERS FOR THE NATION
Carlos G. Dominguez
Secretary of Finance
Ateneo Graduate School of Business
October 8, 2017
Dean Rodolfo P. Ang, the distinguished faculty of this great business school, proud
parents, talented graduates:
Before anything else, let me extend my warmest congratulations to this
institution on your 50th year. Through five decades, the Ateneo Graduate School of
Business maintained the adequacy of its programs and produced some of the most
notable business leaders in the country. You have cultivated among the strongest
graduate business faculties in the region.
In addition to the usual business school program, this institution brings an
added value: a clear ethical standpoint.
The best business schools there are produce more than artisans in the craft
of creating wealth. They produce leaders for modern societies driven by enterprise.
Ateneo de Manila University, being what it is, produces something more than
persons with functional skills. This institution produces conscientious graduates,
persons inclined to be of service to others. The Ateneo Graduate School of Business,
therefore, produces servant-leaders.
Business skills, as you might have learned from this school, is more than
merely producing profit. The business of business is to meet needs, supply demand,
organize productivity, create great products and, broadly speaking, improve lives
Great business leaders bring out the best in others. They nurture talents by
rewarding achievement. They encourage productivity by opening opportunities.
They bring people together to produce synergy, making organizations more
powerful than the sum of all who are in it. They inspire people by uncovering what
is possible and by making possible what might have been unimaginable.
This year’s graduates surely learned everything there is to learn about doing
business. The challenge now is to be leaders in our communities, to use the
problem-solving skills you learned here to actually solve real-life problems that
beset our society.
I challenge all of you to seek not the comfort of air-conditioned offices early
in your careers. Those offices dull the conscience and blunt your skills. Instead, you
who are young and bright-eyed and full of idealism must go out to communities that
are cluttered, disillusioned and disheartened. Help sort out the problems there.
Build social enterprises. Organize the poor. Create capacity where there seems very
little. Be crusaders for ethical business practices. Protect our environment.
You are all familiar with the concept of “barefoot doctors.” Many of our
medical schools have encouraged their students to go out and help their
communities as paramedics. Many have programs that encourage young interns to
work in far-flung communities. There they best appreciate what needs to be done
with our health care system. They understand the typical diseases that afflict our
poorer communities. They become familiar with herbal treatments not usually
covered by standard medical education. A few schools offer scholarships on the
condition the fresh graduates invest the first years of their practice in district
We might want to explore the development of parallel programs for our
business schools. After all, the vast majority of our people work in microenterprises,
cooperatives and small agribusinesses. They daily confront the
challenges of meeting payrolls, sourcing supply, figuring out distribution channels
for their products and dealing with the limitations of our micro-finance networks.
These are challenges that incite the imagination.
Working for an established corporation is easy. With a good credit history,
financing is readily accessible. With better pay, human resource is rarely a problem.
With accumulated experience, management approaches rarely need to be inventive.
It is a different world for small enterprises. They do not have the credit
history to readily access financing. They may have excellent products, but no
distribution networks for them. They need you expertise. You will need the
experience working in the raw.
If we are able to build a strong base of small but competently run enterprises,
the impact on our country’s poverty profile will be dramatic. Opportunities for the
poorer rural communities will multiply. Linkages with the established corporate
networks will come more easily.
Some development analysts attribute our relative backwardness on having a
weak culture of entrepreneurship. We need to address that. Be preachers of
enterprise to our people. Teach them to seek out opportunities, take risks and even
Early in you careers, it should be easy to be bolder. Take risks. Deal with
failure. Profit from the lessons of starting up businesses. All the learning will be
profitable for you later in life. There is no substitute for getting you feet wet to grasp
how things work in our society.
If we could somehow institutionalize small business immersion programs in
the curriculum of this school, that will give flesh to our University’s mission of
building “Men for Others.” The Ateneo Graduate School of Business must be a
functional asset for cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship for our society. That is
the only advice I can leave you.
In closing, allow me to humbly thank this institution for the honor of
considering me an outstanding alumnus. I am not sure what exactly I have done to
deserve this honor. I suppose it gives me the privilege of badgering you from time to
time to contribute talent for government work.
To the graduates, I wish you the best. You have been sufficiently equipped by
this school. The direction you take in your careers is entirely your choice.
Thank you and good day.