Tom Porcelli named SOM Alumnus of the Year

Tom Porcelli ’96, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets and 2017 School of Management Alumnus of the Year, offered this year’s SOM graduates five pieces of advice

Tom Porcelli ’96, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets and 2017 School of Management Alumnus of the Year, offered this year’s SOM graduates five pieces of advice in his Commencement address to them in May. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Tom Porcelli ’96, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets and 2017 School of Management Alumnus of the Year, offered this year’s SOM graduates five pieces of advice in his Commencement address to them in May.
Tom Porcelli ’96, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets and 2017 School of Management Alumnus of the Year, offered this year’s SOM graduates five pieces of advice in his Commencement address to them in May. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

Tom Porcelli ’96, chief U.S. economist for RBC Capital Markets and 2017 School of Management Alumnus of the Year, offered this year’s SOM graduates five pieces of advice in his Commencement address to them in May:

1. “Think in terms of risk-reward and cost-benefit.”

Porcelli is always asking himself, “What’s the risk relative to the reward? What’s the cost relative to the benefit?” when it comes to big decisions. He advised students to apply the same financial principles to their own lives. According to Porcelli, it’s important to use cost-benefit analysis to help determine the potential gain or loss from any given decision, whether it be professional or personal.

2. “Be intellectually curious.”

Porcelli told the budding professionals that they should always seek knowledge on the job. “Employ higher-level thinking to your career,” he said. “Your approach to your job should evolve from your intellectual curiosity — that’s when you know you’re in the right place.”

3. “Create a life you love.”

Porcelli said that while he is genuinely enthusiastic about his work, it takes more than job satisfaction to live a fulfilled life. He reminded the audience that it’s important to focus on things outside of work (like personal relationships and hobbies) in order to create a well-rounded life with successes and happiness.

4. “There are no defined road maps.”

Porcelli compared the post-graduate journey to taking a trip in which there are no directions or speed limits available. While it’s important to stay anchored as an adult, he said, new graduates need to remember, “You won’t always be facing the same direction.”

5. “Be a good listener.”

Porcelli told the graduates that listening is one of the most fundamental skills necessary to achieve growth. “You can learn something from everyone,” he said. “There’s nothing that bothers me more than seeing someone who is unable to be quiet and let others speak.”

He emphasized the importance of listening to others and to oneself. Porcelli said its important to become aware of your inner voice, and develop the strength of your intuition.

“If you don’t have the fortitude to quiet your mind and listen to someone else talk, how will you be able to stay quiet when you need to look to yourself and listen to your gut?”

At the end of the address, Porcelli left graduates with this message:

“I wish you a career where you wake up every day excited to get to work, surrounded by a collection of amazing people you have filled your world with, all wrapped up in a great life you’ve created — just make sure you define what ‘great’ means to you.”

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