Approach life with a positive attitude, protect your health, and be personally accountable. That’s the advice businessman and philanthropist Denis McCarthy gave to students at UConn’s winter commencement exercises in Gampel Pavilion on Dec. 14.
About 800 students – including more than half who earned their degrees from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – were joined by friends and family members for the ceremony.
Having a positive attitude in life helps build self-confidence, McCarthy told the crowd. “Certainly you have to be realistic depending on the subject or circumstance, but having that ‘can do’ attitude will help you be enthusiastic and passionate about what you do professionally,” he said. “Those are two excellent leadership skills.”
McCarthy is the retired chairman, CEO, and president of Fidelity Management Trust Co., a subsidiary of Fidelity Investments, one of the world’s leading providers of financial services. During the ceremony, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
McCarthy earned a bachelor’s degree in finance at UConn in 1964, and a master’s degree in economics in 1965. He is co-chair of UConn’s capital campaign and a member of the UConn Foundation board of directors, which he chaired from 2000-2004.
Priority on health
McCarthy told the graduates not to ignore their health.
“Without a solid health foundation, it is very hard to perform to your fullest,” he said. “You have great fitness facilities here at UConn, along with the availability of all manner of diet and nutritional information. But even if you did not take advantage of them while you were here, commit to yourself now that you will take charge of the future condition of your health.”
Practice personal accountability, McCarthy advised.
“I refer to this as looking in the mirror. So many times in high school or college or in professional life, we tend to blame someone else for a mediocre grade in a course, underachievement in a sport, or worse yet, a major professional failure. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘I only got a C because I had a lousy professor’ or ‘We lost because the coach didn’t put
McCarthy said, “A certain percentage of your success is being in the right place at the right time – being in the right department, or the right company, or the institution where the promotions are made, or where the bonuses are paid that year. Some of that timing you cannot always influence. What you can influence is a lot like they say in football – focus on one play at a time. Do your job to the best of your ability day by day.”