Huntsman Post

Elder L. Tom Perry tells MBA graduates they have a responsibility to lead

By Steve Eaton

One of the best-known graduates of the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business was invited to speak to MBA class last May, and he offered them advice on how to prepare for the future by giving them a history lesson.

Elder L. Tom Perry speaks to MBA graduates. - Photo by Steve Eaton

Elder L. Tom Perry, ‘49, finance, was treasurer of R.H. Stearns, a department store chain in Boston, when he was asked to be an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two years later he was picked to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Dean Douglas D. Anderson introduced Elder Perry, who received an honorary doctorate from USU in 2008 and a Distinguished Alumnus Executive Award from the Huntsman School of Business in 2006.

“To say Elder Perry has been a bold voice for bedrock principles of honesty and integrity is an understatement,” Dean Anderson said. “Elder Perry has modeled in business and his service exactly what we are talking about when we teach the importance of strong ethical leadership at the Huntsman School of Business.”

Elder Perry spoke to one of the largest on-campus graduating MBA classes in the history of the Huntsman School of Business. Fifty-five students graduated last spring from the full-time program and many of them brought guests to the annual MBA dinner held at Elements Restaurant in Logan. Even though that meant that 140 people were in attendance, Elder Perry took time before and after the event to talk with everyone who wanted to meet him.

“Life is not a one-act play,” Elder Perry said. “We have experienced the past. We are living in the present. And we will always have hope for the future.”

Elder L. Tom Perry and his wife, Barbara, talk with Chris Fawson. - Photo by Steve Eaton

Elder Perry spoke of the changes in business he has seen, the benefits they have brought to the world and the challenges they have created.

“To almost everything you do, there are just two things you need to succeed in the business world today,” he said. “You have to be a good learner, and you have to be good at changing. Success is sustainable with these two abilities and unsustainable without them.”

He talked about what former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw has called the “greatest generation,” how it weathered the great depression and World War II, the values it embraced and the sacrifices it made.

He said that the virtues and values that were such a key part of life back then continue to benefit us today and should shape our development in the future.

“I believe we should have increasing awareness of the need for the dual virtues of faith and hope,” he said. “Never lose faith in the values that make individuals and nations great and always hope for a better world.”

He told the group it was their turn to lead.

“The standard has now been placed in your hands,” he said. “I challenge you to raise up the standard and become even greater than the greatest generation. That is the challenge I leave with you today. The world is waiting for you to step forward and build a better world for us.”