Maryrose Sylvester ’88 shares core pieces of advice with Class of 2018

Commencement speaker also was awarded an honorary degree, a Doctor of Business Administration

Maryrose Sylvester honorary degreeAlumna Maryrose Sylvester ’88 is hooded for her honorary Doctor of Business Administration by Interim Provost John Fischer and President Rodney Rogers.

Alumna Maryrose Sylvester '88 shared her core pieces of advice with the Bowling Green State University Class of 2018 on December 14 at the Stroh Center.

Sylvester, who also was awarded an honorary degree, a Doctor of Business Administration, addressed the candidates from the Graduate College and the colleges of Business; Health and Human Services; Musical Arts; Technology, Architecture and Applied Engineering; and BGSU Firelands.

"I am so truly honored to be here tonight receiving this incredible recognition," she told the crowd at the Stroh Center. "I've worked in business for more than 30 years, so it's been a long time since I sat in your seat, but it feels like it was yesterday. My memories are fond and my pride runs deep: Bowling Green State University was essential in building my foundation on so many fronts. Academically, interpersonally and ethically — those core elements have served me well and will do the same for all of you.

"College, in general, is unlike any other experience you'll ever have in life. It's a self-contained world, where most of your problems only last 16 weeks and success comes with a clear road map. Life after college — as I'm sure you've heard — doesn't quite work that way. The real world is messy and unpredictable and chaotic. Life is more like a mosaic, a work of art created one piece at a time, combined to depict something unique."

Sylvester said when she was asked to speak at commencement, she started thinking what to say to help prepare the Class of 2018 for the rest of their lives.

"My career has given me the chance to live in all kinds of interesting places, from Cleveland to Budapest to Boston to name a few. I am a listener, a learner and a leader. I am a woman who has succeeded in a male-dominated industry.

"What I thought I'd do today is share with you five pieces that have been core to my mosaic and that I wish someone would have told me at age 22: Remember, time is your most precious gift, so don't let the world distract you from spending your time on what matters. You don't know everything, so always keep learning. Never underestimate the power of hard work to solve problems, but always balance that hard work with a strong sense of moral character and an ability to empathize with others. And never be afraid to fail spectacularly and learn from it."

Sylvester is president and CEO of Current, a first-of-its-kind startup within the walls of GE that blends advanced LED technology with networked sensors and software to make commercial buildings, retail stores, industrial facilities and cities more energy efficient and digitally productive.

A 1988 graduate of the procurement and production management (supply chain management) program in the College of Business, she has gone on to an international career with General Electric (now called GE Lighting), beginning with her 1987 internship at GE Motors in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After graduation, she joined GE Lighting in 1988 in the sourcing operation, and has held positions of increasing responsibility.

Sylvester and her Falcon Flame husband Mike '88, and their three daughters live in Newton, Massachusetts.