In his keynote address to the students as the Jackson School Distinguished Alum Award 2023 recipient, Steve B. Davis, who graduated in 1984 with a master’s degree in East Asian Studies and who holds a law degree from Columbia University, emphasized the opportunities to make an impact in the world.
“I agree that my generation is handing you a rather messy world,” he said in reviewing current global challenges ranging from the war in Ukraine to U.S. political polarization to human rights and more. “On the other hand, what a better time to be you, a newly minted graduate of a great global university international studies program in this complex world full of all these challenges and all these opportunities.”
Based in Seattle, Davis is currently a senior adviser for McKinsey & Company, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His nearly 40-year career spans leadership roles for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, PATH and at the intersection of business, innovation and social impact.
“Some of you might take a bowling ball approach to your career, that is, focus on a set of goals and put all your energy to achieve that strike. Others will adopt more styles like mine, zig zagging among interesting ideas, opportunities and jobs, sort of a pinball approach of life. Most of you will shape your journey somewhere in between. There is no one right answer. Regardless, I hope you are boundless in your aspirations, and excited about your potential for impact for this degree in international studies prepared you.
“Please take this day to celebrate, and then tomorrow, put aside any cynicism or fatigue, and use your knowledge you’ve used at the Jackson School to contribute and go change the world for the better,” he urged.