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Entrepreneurs to graduate students: 'Your MBA will set you apart'

Elon University parents Ed and Joan Doherty P’07, co-founders of a company that operates dozens of family restaurant franchises, offered wisdom May 23 to Master of Business Administration candidates gathered in Whitley Auditorium for Commencement exercises.

Raghu Tadepalli, dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, helped award degrees on May 23, 2014, to candidates in the Master of Business Administration program.


Don't worry about things you cannot change. Have a positive attitude because "nobody likes negative people." And give back to society with both time and money - especially to causes that improve the vibrancy of your communities.

Elon University parents Ed and Joan Doherty P'07 provided that advice and more Friday as they delivered co-Commencement addresses to students graduating from the Master of Business Administration program in the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business.

The May 23, 2014, remarks followed the awarding of honorary degrees to a couple whose gifts to Elon have advanced the university's national reputation for its entrepreneurship education.

From left: Joan Doherty P'07, Elon University President Leo M. Lambert, and Elon Trustee Ed Doherty P'07

The New Jersey couple offered complementary themes that have served them well in three decades operating family restaurants that include Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar, Panera Bread, Chevys Fresh Mex, and Noodles & Company. Ed Doherty spoke on business acumen while Joan Doherty described her "behind-the-scenes" role in a partnership that makes both their company and their family a success.

While Ed primarily ran the corporation, Joan's top priority was managing a family with three children and developing deep roots in the community. Joan Doherty told graduates that regardless of which person in a relationship handles particular responsibilities, never forget what the other provides.

“As you can see, our partnership together has been a rather traditional arrangement. However, when we look at the success we have experienced, we are rewarded with the ability to invest in the future with organizations such as Elon University,” Joan Doherty said. “Your journeys, your challenges, will vary greatly. In today's world, the person at the helm of the business or partnership might be the wife rather than husband, and how often that might change as you progress through your life is anyone's guess.

"What remains constant and necessary in any kind of winning partnership is open communication and an unwavering support of each other.”

Ed Doherty shared with graduates advice gleaned from his business achievements, such as showing respect to customers, the community and employees. “It’s all about people, and it’s all about teamwork. Teamwork leads to success, and there is no ‘I’ in ‘team,'" he said. "You cannot be successful without surrounding yourself with a great team.”

Among his more salient lessons?

“You will fail. Let me repeat that. You will fail!" Ed Doherty emphasized. "It’s OK to fail. It’s how you react to failure that is the key. ... And when you fail, do not get emotional. Do not waste energy on worrying. Develop a well thought-out plan, work that plan, and you will be successful.”

The Dohertys' own success helped them make a gift in 2007 to establish the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Love School of Business as they concluded their service on Elon’s Parents Council. After their daughter Kerry Doherty graduated in 2007, the couple grew passionate about building a robust alumni network, hosting several “Evenings for Elon” in New York.

In addition to serving as a board member of Doherty Enterprises, Joan Doherty has helped create distinctive décor for their Applebee’s restaurants, working with community organizations to gather local memorabilia. She has also served with several organizations in her community, including Children’s Aid & Family Services and The Valley Hospital Women’s Auxiliary.

Elected to the Elon Board of Trustees in 2006, Ed Doherty brought his business acumen to his service as chair of the Investment Committee and as a member of the Executive Committee. He has also been one of the board’s most enthusiastic champions of engaged learning, offering wise counsel on enhancing Elon’s commitment to this transformational style of teaching and learning.

His counsel was equally wise for Elon's newest class of MBA graduates.

“Your MBA will set you apart,” Ed Doherty said. “And whatever you decide to do, whether working for a corporation, starting a business or raising a family, have a passion for it. You’ll be spending more time with that (decision) than anything else you do.”

The Commencement program featured remarks as well from James “Jimmy” Overton, selected by his peers to speak on behalf of the class. Overton thanked family and friends whose support has led to personal growth for everyone through readings, assignments and presentations. He paid special tribute to the program’s faculty and staff.

“As we take this next step and walk across this stage, may we always be appreciative to Elon University for the sacrifices of each instructor and staff member who have contributed to our success,” he said. “And may we always be reminded that this ceremony is only an outward display of inward growth.”

Degrees conferred by Elon University President Leo M. Lambert at the Commencement program were presented by Elon Provost Steven House, with Raghu Tadepalli, dean of the Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, and Professor Bill Burpitt, associate dean for graduate and executive programs, awarding the diplomas.

In his charge to graduates to conclude the evening, Lambert thanked the Dohertys for their partnership and support of the university, and he likened their story to that of Elon University with success found through “sheer grit and resilience, an abiding belief in hard work and a commitment to integrity and excellence.”

Lambert reminded graduates to use the character they developed through their education to bring about change in a world sometimes harmed by unethical leaders.

“‘Character is destiny,’” Lambert said, quoting the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. “As we have seen too often of late in every sphere of public life - government, religion, business, entertainment, sports - bright, accomplished people can create a world of chaos when they are no longer guided by their ethical and spiritual bearings.”

Lambert charged graduates to use their new knowledge in a manner reflected in the university motto of “Numen Lumen,” Latin for “spiritual light” and “intellectual light.”

“By earning an MBA, many of your fine qualities have been clearly demonstrated,” he said. “As alumni of Elon University and among the most highly educated people on the planet, I charge you to carry one light into the world with you - Numen and Lumen - fused, inseparable. Knowledge and character, fused. Shining intellect and strong guiding ethical and moral codes, seamlessly connected. Intellectual light and spiritual light for a world crying out for your leadership.  

“So go forth and shine! Long Live Elon!”

Candidates for the Master of Business Administration in the Class of 2014:

Juan Camilo Acosta
Brian Schleicher Adam
Kathryn Elizabeth Ashby
Madhuker Balakrishnan
Anuradha Bhattacharjee
Ian Edmond Bridgers
William David Burress
Allison Lacy Cardella
Katie Leigh Chung
Hal Reuben Corin
Lauren Victoria Cox
Miles Anthony Curro
Loren Johnson Dargan
Eric Scott Estes
Michael Thomas Farrington
Lesley Norman Hobbs
Khanh Thien Huynh
Jennifer Michelle Henderson Kelly
Katharine Anne Kunz
Mark Richard Lasher
Vijayam Maiyappan
Bryan Christopher May
Kara Boothe May
Shana Lee McAlexander
Matthew Robert Miglarese
Daniel Bradford Nash
Melissa Leanne Oakes
James Grant Overton
Wayne Robert Price
Srikanth S. Raghavan
Jamie Lee Wrenshall Ridout
Aaron Michael Rodgers
Mayedana Saguintaah
Kaitlyn Lee Schultz
Kyle Foster Smith
Stephen Louis Smith
Allison Lilly Spencer
Emily Faircloth Sweitzer
Sherri Colette Bulluck Thomas
Andre A. Valcour
Gerald Leonard Walden Jr.
Kristin Marie Blanchard Walker
Mark Douglas Walter
Robert Hanley Walton
Durice Nicole White
Christopher Matthew Whitley
Alexander McAlister Worth
Amanda Lynn Zamzes



Eric Townsend,
5/23/2014 8:30 PM