On October 3, 2011, Fuqua welcomed Bob Weber, a 1976 Duke law graduate and current SVP of government and legal affairs at IBM. Our Distinguished Speaker Series has had no shortage of influential and dignified leaders. A common theme among the speeches, typically, is that we, as students, are in a tremendous position to step back from the real world for a short time to learn something new and try to find a direction in an inherently confusing time.

I found myself mildly surprised that Mr. Weber’s discussion took on something of a different tone. Rather than distinguishing between the workplace and the ivory tower, he posited that Fuqua and IBM actually have very comparable missions. He suggested that IBM has tried to “build a smarter planet” by stripping away superfluous details to get to the fundamental problems facing the company and facing the world.

Mr. Weber suggested that this has occurred at his firm by engaging with society. He implored us to think about all constituents when making our decisions, which sounded eerily reminiscent of the dogma of Fuqua.