Two businessmen with extensive experience working in international markets will address graduates of the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis at its May 15 recognition ceremony.
Graduate students will hear from Steve Akard, director of international development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. In a separate ceremony, bachelor’s degree graduates will hear from Kelley instructor and successful entrepreneur David Steele. Both men are graduates of Kelley Indianapolis programs.
“Graduates at the Kelley School are fortunate to be able to hear from these business veterans, who will provide great insight into the international reach of modern business. A Kelley degree indicates global knowledge, and I expect these speakers to emphasize just how important that is today,” said Philip Cochran, Kelley’s associate dean of Indianapolis operations.
The graduate students’ ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. on May 15 in rooms 132-136 at the Indiana Convention Center. The baccalaureate ceremony is planned for approximately 5:30 p.m. in the Sagamore Ballroom (rooms 4-7) of the Convention Center.
The 2011 graduates at both ceremonies also will hear from Mark Barbato, president of the Kelley School of Business Alumni Association Board. Barbato is a 1982 graduate of Kelley’s Evening MBA program and a retired executive from Eli Lilly and Company.
“I want these graduates to understand that this is not an endpoint, but rather a gateway—a gateway to the next step in their lives, one that will add them to the network of more than 90,000 Kelley graduates worldwide,” Barbato said.
Steele describes himself as a lifelong entrepreneur at heart and has started three successful businesses. He attributes much of his success to always reinventing himself and continuing to learn and grow.
“I want to give these graduates whatever bit of wisdom I can provide and help them internalize it and take it to their jobs with them, primarily the ideas of being true to your values and ethics, the importance of networking and mentoring and the global market in which we live today,” Steele said.
“Not a day goes by here in Indianapolis where I’m not making an international call, and that did not happen 10 years ago,” Steele added. “Understanding the current markets and these emerging markets are essential to business today.”
Similarly, Akard said he hopes to help graduates understand the business climate awaiting them. He is responsible for securing international investments on behalf of the IEDC. He manages overseas office in six different countries and is responsible for global outreach and education regarding Indiana business.
“I want to highlight and encourage these graduate students to be involved in the global marketplace and be aware of what’s happening,” said Akard, an Indianapolis native and a graduate of the part-time Evening MBA program as well as the IU School of Law-Indianapolis.
“Today in Indiana, we compete more effectively and are more engaged in global economics than people realize,” Akard added. “A tremendous amount of jobs here are the result of foreign investment, and Indiana companies engaged overseas have a tremendous impact on our economy.”
Before joining the IEDC, Akard served as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Department of State. He has remained closely tied to Kelley programs since becoming an alumnus in 1989 and has supported students “getting out and becoming active in learning across the world,” he said.
Steele, meanwhile, has found success as a senior officer in two corporations as well as entrepreneurial efforts. One company was sold to a London-based firm, where Steele managed 1,200 employees across North America and was a member of the global executive team.
For the past three years, Steele has been appointed to the Board of Examiners for the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award, the highest national honor for businesses who display performance excellence.
Currently, he leads a new venture in the smart energy sector for J.D. Power and Associates. He also teaches courses in entrepreneurship at Kelley Indianapolis, where he focuses on helping students learn to start and grow a business while incorporating real-world experience, insight and perspective into classroom instruction.