Twenty-six years ago, Joseph Baratta (B’93) walked across the Georgetown University commencement stage to receive his diploma and was prepared to begin his career at Morgan Stanley. He never imagined that he would find himself once again on the Healy Lawn stage, this time to address the McDonough School of Business Class of 2019. [Watch the video.]
Baratta, who is now the global head of private equity and senior managing director at Blackstone, explained that his career advanced because of one distinguishing feature – the “Georgetown Factor.”
“Growing up, it was not obvious I would be attending Georgetown,” said the first-generation college graduate. Yet at Georgetown, he found something that would set him apart throughout his career – the “Georgetown Factor.”
To Baratta, the character and values taught at Georgetown in the Jesuit tradition are unique. All of the graduates, he said, are smart, impressive, and talented – but those qualities are just table stakes. Instead, he said the “Georgetown Factor” adds the traits of hard work, humility, and honesty.
“These are the things that will distinguish you beyond your talent and intelligence,” he said. “Don’t forget the ‘Georgetown Factor’ isn’t just a moral anchor, it’s a competitive advantage.”
During his remarks, Baratta also shared advice that he wished he had received at his commencement with the 929 graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, MBA, Executive MBA, Executive Master’s in Leadership, and Master of Science in Finance programs:
- “There is no course catalog from here on out” – there are no support structures, guardrails, or formula to follow in the real world.
- “Run toward the things that make you deeply uncomfortable, because if you don’t embrace discomfort, you won’t find new ways to grow.”
- “Don’t be a dabbler” – build foundational skills and networks instead of running from one thing to another.
- “Be an entrepreneur wherever you are” by thinking like an entrepreneur, finding ways to make things better or more efficient, taking initiative, and making oneself indispensable.
- “Don’t think too far into the future” – future success will be dependent upon being excellent in the present.
After his address, Georgetown McDonough Dean Paul Almeida and Vice Dean Pietra Rivoli presented Baratta with the Dean’s Medal for his service to the school as a member of the Board of Advisors and the Global Business Initiative Advisory Board, as well as his support of global educational opportunities for students and research in international business.
After the ceremony, Aimee Smith, the valedictorian of the Full-time MBA class, reflected on her time on the Hilltop and what she will miss the most.
“Definitely, the people,” she said. “You could see it at graduation today – you could hear people shouting out, especially for people we know may have had a bit of a tough time. That was really encouraging and something I’m going to miss.”