The poet Robert Frosts’ famous poem, “The Road Not Taken” provided the inspiration behind the University of Vermont Grossman School of Business’ commencement speaker, Marc Compagnon (’80) comments, before a packed Flynn Theater in Burlington.

Mr. Compagnon, who is the Executive Director and Group President of Li & Fung, spoke to more than 200 undergraduate students on Sunday, May 20, 2018 at the annual commencement ceremony.

As the keynote speaker Marc reflected on his time at UVM and subsequent business journey, and embraced Robert Frosts’ message to “find the road less traveled.” 

By taking a chance and moving to Thailand and being one of the first to do business in China in the 80’s, Marc lost the idea of barriers and began to see the world through multiple lens.

Even today, as a business man who travels 60% of the time and recently clocked up more than four million miles on one airline alone, he views those miles traveled as a time for opportunities, and while it meant time away from his family, it underscores the fact that sometimes we have to do things we don’t want to do, in order to do the things, we want to do. He reiterated these tradeoffs are not taught, and it is for each of the students to come to terms with their own.

He encouraged the graduates to create their own adventures and take a path less traveled. To adopt the values he is proud to find in his daughter; be kind, be brave and be lucky. And although from this moment on there will be no longer any faculty around to teach and guide, never stop learning.

Working hard is a given, doing things on your own is also part of it, but recognize life is a team sport. Finding the right team, teammates and collaborating and supporting them is very important. Understanding and learning your values, vision and goals with people who will ride with you is crucial. If you pick the right team you will always have opportunities in life.

When Marc moved to Asia, ending up in the dynamic, global city that is Hong Kong, he left his comfort zone, but without that leap of faith, his life would have undoubtedly taken a different turn. He urged the cohort to think globally and find their own Hong Kong. To learn from their mistakes by continuing to always move forward. To be independent, to find your own path and choose the road less travelled.

Katie Lukes, valedictorian for the undergraduate class of 2018, congratulated the cohort about reaching this special day, and also encouraged them to continue to find one new thing they need to learn every day, and to go forth and succeed in their careers.


John M Turner