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Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg encourages 2020 graduates to 'learn from other cultures'

Dhara Singh
Reporter

As racial justice and diversity issues take focus in corporate America, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg reminded graduates that seeking new perspectives and immersing yourself in different experiences will help them grow professionally into a leader.

“So of course my experience was very limited,” Vestberg said, who was raised in a small city in Sweden. “But I had the interest and I had the curiousness to learn from other cultures and that was enormously important and played a vital role in my leadership. Diversity inclusion is only going to do this world a better place, it's going to do my companies...my team better.”

Read more: 5 tips to jumpstarting your career in 2020

Vestberg offered his astute and timely words for the class of 2020 during Verizon’s Class of 2020: #ReadyforAnything commencement series. (Verizon is Cashay’s parent company.)

Even though he worked for only two companies in his 35-year career, Vestberg made an active effort to travel internationally and to implement teachings from other cultures into his leadership strategies.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 10: CEO of Verizon Communications Hans Vestberg attends the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West Events on October 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 10: CEO of Verizon Communications Hans Vestberg attends the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit at Union West Events on October 10, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/Getty Images)

“I lived in China, I lived in Brazil, I lived in Mexico, Argentina, Chile, the United States and Mexico and worked with many different things from accounting to HR to strategy to sales,” Vestberg said. “I like to lead people, but I also understand that before I could lead others, I needed to know myself and that’s my second learning here.”

Before you set sail and apply to jobs overseas, Vestberg said you should be intentional in your job choice. The one that gleams with purpose and curiosity is the right one for you.

“I think it starts with you doing what you really are interested in and what things you think are fun, because ultimately you want to spend a lot more time working in your life,” Vestberg said. “And the most important is actually all the time you’re going to work, you’re going to feel connected to the purpose of the company or the organization.”

Vestberg referred to how his passion for working with different cultures influenced the roles he chose. He recommends choosing a company with offices around the globe.

“I love to work with different cultures and that took [me] on that journey,” Vestberg said. “So again it comes back to you [doing] what you feel you’re interested and excited about because that’s going to make your life much easier.”

‘Other people trust you’

For new graduates who envision themselves to be a leader, Vestberg emphasized there’s more involved than acquiring a title.

“I think first of all, you need to see that if you want to be a leader, it comes with a huge responsibility,” Vestberg said. “Other people trust you, so you need to have a desire.”

Read more: Embrace the unconventional path ‘even if the cards are stacked against you’

A leader should also value diversity and implement it on their team. For instance, a diverse board increased profits for 4 in 10 companies, according to a study from the consulting firm McKinsey.

“If I look at my company right now, we need all diversities,” Vestberg said, whose role model remains his own father -- someone who emphasized diversity and teambuilding. “That’s how you create a great company.”

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Vestberg also acknowledged the reality that many new graduates will face during the pandemic. To ease their concerns, he called for graduates to reframe this adverse time period as one of opportunity.

I think some paradigm shifts that were seen in society and behaviors will be very helpful for attaining some of the sustainable development goals, everything from telehealth to remote learning to being able to not travel all the time to reduce climate change,” Vestberg said. “I don’t think the new normal will go back to exactly how it was before.”

Dhara is a writer for Cashay and Yahoo Money. Follow her on Twitter @dsinghx.

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