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Urgently Embrace Your Passion: Amgen CEO Robert A. Bradway Advises UCLA Anderson Graduates

On Friday, June 16, 2017, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Anderson School of Management welcomed Robert A. Bradway to their commencement ceremony where he delivered the keynote address to Anderson’s MBA, Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA), Executive MBA (EMBA) and Ph.D. graduating classes.

After an introduction by UCLA Anderson Dean Judy D. Olian, Bradway imparted words of hard-earned wisdom to the graduating classes. He cautioned graduates not to fall victim to a little known, yet highly consequential acronym IQTR, or “Infinite Quality Time Remaining.” Bradway explained IQTR as a common misconception around the speed with which life passes us by; that there is always time later in life to dedicate to your passions.

Amgen CEO Robert Bradway Gives UCLA Commencement Speech

Robert A. Bradway (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Amgen) with Emily Yee (Program Manager, Amgen and 2017 Graduate, UCLA Anderson). Photo by Bryan Yee.

Bradway then challenged the soon-to-be alumni to avoid the “trap” of IQTR by understanding what motivates, inspires and truly matters to them now, and to pursue those passions with urgency. He encouraged the graduates to regularly ask themselves a few key questions while pursuing their future careers: “Am I enjoying what I’m doing? Does my work matter? Do I respect the values of the company I’m working for and the people I’m working with? Am I growing in my role or am I flattening out and getting too comfortable?”

Bradway illustrated the importance of doing work that matters to him with a personal, real-world example. In 2012, just before he took on the role of CEO at Amgen, Bradway was contacted by the parents of a young girl stricken with cancer. Desperate in their search for help, the parents asked Amgen to make an exception to their rule that an experimental drug Amgen was researching only be administered to adults. The exception was made, and the child’s parents were hopeful that this drug would save their daughter’s life.

“The drug has worked for many patients, but unfortunately not for all, and in the end it didn't work for this child. You all will have many successes in your careers; but you will face failures too…You will celebrate your successes, but I would encourage you to embrace your failures, and learn from them as well.”

To this day, Bradway keeps the family’s emails taped into a desk drawer in his home office as a constant reminder that his work isn’t done and that he, like Anderson’s graduating classes, have no time to waste.

To view Bradway’s commencement address, click here. The video is halfway down the page, with Bradway’s presentation starting at 46 minutes.