MBA Commencement Day Speech | ESSEC Business School

Entrepreneurship / 6 March 2023

Prepared for more than 6 months, I had the honor and the privilege to deliver a speech during the ESSEC Commencement Day. Personal story, emotions and broader perspective!


“Bonjour à tous!

90% of you have never heard of me. I’m not a millionaire, nor a CEO of a big corporation. So basically, I have no credibility on a business standpoint, but today, I have a considerable desire to share a message with you, that’s why I’m going to speak with my guts.

ESSEC’s motto is « Enlighten. Lead. Change. ». So today my speech will only try to enlighten yourself, because I believe that you are all brilliant enough, Class of 2022, to conduct the change by yourself.

If I had only one message to share with you today, it would be

Have the courage to do what you believe is important!

In 2005, at Stanford University commencement day, Steve Jobs said:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

But the problem is that we don’t have the courage anymore, we don’t believe it anymore, we lost faith. In fact, the successive crisis, whether they are economic, environmental, or sanitary made us doubtful, uncertain and short-termist.

We lost our ambition.

And yet,

  • Those who are burning the Amazonian Forest, they believe it!
  • Those who are responsible of the rise of fascism in the world, they believe it!
  • Vladimir Poutine believes it! He believes that he can invade Ukraine.

These guys believe it, they are absolutely convinced in what they are doing. So, if we don’t believe that we can have an impact, that we can change the world, we won’t be able to fight against these personalities and behaviors.

I’d like to tell you a little story to illustrate what I’m saying.

As it was already mention, my passion is sport and I believe that sport can make the world a better place.

From judo to triathlon, I have been a high-level athlete for more than a decade:

  • Sport supported me during a tough childhood when I had to see my father in jail.
  • Sport helped to fight social inequalities when we were red flagged by the French banks, without credit cards and checks
  • Sport also gave me the possibility to dream and sometimes to see these dreams coming true while winning national and international titles

I understood that sport was much more than putting my running shoes on a Sunday morning to go for a little run.

In fact, I believe that sport can have a much bigger and broader impact and make the world a better place.

I would like to give you a few examples:

  • Physical and mental health: Today it is well demonstrated that a regular physical activity can reduce the probability of developing a chronicle disease and prevent mental illness
  • Inequalities: I call sport as a chance equalizer. When you are on a starting block, it doesn’t matter how rich your family is or how many people you know in the business
  • Social cohesion: Do you know another event like the Olympic Games that has the power to unify one nation to support its country? That’s the power of sport!

At ESSEC, we know it very well, as several graduates promote these values:

  • Tony Estanguet, ESSEC graduate, and current President of the 2024 Paris Olympic Games
  • Amélie Oudéa-Castéra, ESSEC graduate, and current the French Sports Minister 

These people inspire me! So, even if today I haven’t found a position in one of the main sports corporations, organizations or federations. I will keep fighting.

That’s the power of an ambition, that’s the power of a dream, that’s the power of a passion.

As I said, I believe that my passion, sport, can contribute to change the world and make the world a better place.

And you, Class of 2022? What is your passion that can change the world?

Think about the last companies you talked to, think about the last applications that you sent.

Do they match your personal values? Do they match your ambition?

Make sure you answer these questions tomorrow and the world will be much better the day after tomorrow.



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Julien Mendez

29 years old Engineer and MBA graduate passionate by strategy, finance and business development.

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