Irene and the GV Alumni Officers have asked me to make a few comments as I arrive at this point in my career here at the Iacocca Institute. It has been a wonderful 20 years here at the Institute, and so many thoughts flood over me as I take this journey into retirement which will occur in January of 2017.
In my first meetings with Lee Iacocca back in 1997 he tabled the most important question. This is reflected in his last book, “Where Have All The Leaders Gone”. He raised the question of “How do you go about building global leadership and demonstrate to people from different countries, that their commonalities are greater than their differences.” The answer to this question was the creation of the Global Village Program for Future Leaders of Business and Industry.
Reflecting back to those early years, we see a program where we had almost half the interns we have now, and half of the countries and most of the people were under 21 years of age, and many more were men than women. If you fast forward to the Global Village of today, at least half of the group are women, and the age range in most of the programs is 20 years of age between the youngest and the oldest. The average age is about 26 years of age and the group represents all types of backgrounds. They range from undergraduate students to graduate students, to lawyers, to MBA’s, to Government and NGO managers, to Family Business leaders, to representatives of US State Department Leadership Programs and American Council leaders, and young leaders who are destined to change the world we live in. Every summer we now have 90-100 people here and they at least represent 45-50 countries. This is quite an accomplishment, and the alumni play such an important part in this result.
As I arrive at my 50th year of working continually, I reflect that I have had three careers. One was in the military as an officer; one with AT&T in international sales, and the last 20 years has been with the Iacocca Institute and Lehigh University. These last 20 years have simply been the most rewarding, and has changed my life forever. I can never look again at a country on the Globe, without thinking of the smiling faces of our Global Village interns and so many friends who have made a profound change in my life. I am looking forward to spending time with many of these people as we take the 20 -Year Anniversary Cruise this November out of Puerto Rico.
Some of my final thoughts go to the creation of the Richard M. Brandt Global Village Endowed Scholarship Fund which was created less than two years ago by a small band of people who wanted to give back to future interns. I am forever grateful to Mehul Thakur from India, Mohamed Al Thani from Qatar, Ylber Dauti from Albania, Giulliano Lopresti from Mexico and Charlie Zeynel from the USA for being the core group that started this effort. Many of you have contributed to this fund, and many more of you will contribute to the fund as your financial situation puts you in the position to give back to the Global Village Program. So many of you came to the Global Village based on scholarships we were able to give you, and many more interns will need your help in order to have the same experience that you had. I count on your support in the years to come.
Sandra and I look forward to these retirement years, as I leave all of you in an official capacity. I still plan to continue teaching at Lehigh in the IBE honors program and will do some teaching in France at our partner institution, ESIGELEC, and hope to do some additional teaching at times in the Global Village Program. This past couple years I have lost some of my family members and good friends, and realize that time is marching on, and a new generation of leaders is taking over the world. I pray that The Lord gives Sandra and me many more years together, but we know not the hour, so we must make the best of all the time we have left on this earth. I wish all of you well in your plans and your life, and hope that I will still be fortunate enough to see you in many of the countries I still plan to visit. I hope that we can remain friends for these years into the future.