John Gawaluck ’73 shares recipe for achieving dreams with Class of 2018

John Gawaluck shared some life experience and some life advice as he addressed the Class of 2018 at commencement May 4 at the Stroh Center. He told graduates of the Graduate College and the colleges of Business and Health and Human Services that writing down their goals is the first step to achieving them.  

Gawaluck earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Bowling Green State University in 1973. As a student, he was active in Beta Alpha Psi, Delta Sigma Pi, Alpha Phi Omega and was a member of BGSU’s varsity lacrosse team.

He recently retired from EY after 41 years. EY, formerly Ernst & Young, is a multinational professional services firm. During his tenure with EY as a certified public accountant, he held several key leadership positions and served the firm’s top clients, including many Fortune 250 companies.  

As he stood on the stage and looked out at the audience, he asked, “How I have changed in 45 years since graduation and what I have experienced and observed during that time? As you ponder your careers, I assume each of you desires to lead a happy and fun-filled life, enjoy a successful, good career and to have some impact on the world. So, here are a few of my key lessons learned.

“Dream. Write down your dreams; set your goals because goals are specific and measureable. Then write down those goals, and, finally, act on those goals on a daily basis with the aid of a prioritized to-do list.”   

He told the graduates that only 3 percent of Americans write down their goals, and, if they started the practice they would have an 80 percent higher chance in achieving their goals.  

“So, if you want to be successful, take time to dream, set goals and communicate and act on them,” Gawaluck said. “The difference between winning and losing, whether it is in business, sports or entertainment, can be the thinnest of margins. Winners do what they say they are going to do, honoring their own commitments. They turn plans into actions.”    

He has significant expertise in the health sciences and insurance industries, with all types of complex merger and acquisition transactions, and a strong understanding of how to work with regulators. In addition to his client service roles, Gawaluck held several key EY leadership positions, including Arizona managing partner and director of EY’s health sciences and insurance industry practice. He also served as a National Partner Advisory Board member.  

Gawaluck now serves as a consultant/instructor for EY’s manager-level technical accounting/auditing courses and is an adjunct graduate school accounting professor at Middle Tennessee State University. He serves on corporate and not-for-profit boards and holds leadership positions with several community organizations including the Nashville Symphony, the United Way, the Adventure Science Center, and the Sexual Assault Center. He resides in Nashville.