Commencement Speakers’ Lives are Fulfillment of UF Mission
While attending the University of Findlay, Vijay Talwar ‘92 and Billy Watterson ’96, may not have been consciously aware of the University’s mission, “Preparing students for meaningful lives and productive careers.” As successful businessmen, entrepreneurs and volunteers, however, they have fulfilled this mission for themselves and are now encouraging and inspiring UF students to do the same.
Talwar and Watterson will address 2016 graduates at the University of Findlay’s Commencement on Saturday, April 30. As speakers, they promise to inject energy and excitement into ceremonies that are symbolic of leaving academia and taking one’s place in the “real world.” Both men came up through the ranks in an emerging global marketplace. Both have served multiple roles in many successful enterprises, and both are giving back through gifts of time and financial contributions.
Talwar, president, gifts and special occasions for Sears Holdings Corporation, will address graduate students at the 9 a.m. ceremony in UF’s Koehler Fitness and Recreation Complex. He has worked as a management consultant, has been the CEO of a 501c organization and served in leadership roles across multiple industries. He holds a B.A. in accounting from the University of Findlay and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
After working as a management consultant at Bain & Company, Talwar served in multiple roles at Nike, Inc., from 2002-2008, advancing to chief operating officer for Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. Moving to the non-profit world, he became CEO of the William J. Clinton Foundation India, a global 501c nongovernmental organization. The Foundation was established to provide healthcare and sustainability programs across India and South Asia.
Joining Blue Nile in 2010, Talwar served as the company’s CEO, CFO and president of international and global customer care and was also responsible for starting the International Division. Blue Nile is the largest online retailer of certified diamonds and fine jewelry. Talwar’s philanthropic work includes serving as board president of SPLASH, a non profit organization focused on bringing clean drinking water to children in Asia and Africa and as a board member of EDI, an organization that provides managerial training for Hispanic and Asian executives in the Pacific Northwest.
A Passionate Entrepreneur
Speaking at the undergraduate ceremony, which begins at 2 p.m., Watterson has founded more than 16 companies, leading them from start-up through growth and expansion. A graduate of the University of Findlay’s (then) environmental and hazardous materials management program, Watterson’s first job in 1996 was as an environmental specialist at Sears, Roebuck and Co. After becoming Sears’ manager, hazardous materials and safety, Watterson developed programs for hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide.
A passionate entrepreneur, Watterson co-founded Watterson Environmental Group in 2001, which became a nationwide environmental consulting firm. Building on that success, he then founded g2 revolution LLC. Inc. Magazine has ranked g2 revolution as one of the Fastest Growing Privately Held Companies in the U.S. for three consecutive years.
Remaining active at the University of Findlay, Watterson was alumni speaker from the College of Sciences for UF’s Symposium for Scholarship and Creativity in 2012. In 2013, he established a scholarship fund for students interested in entrepreneurship and received the University’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2014.
A strong proponent of the integration of faith and business, Watterson has always been determined to find opportunities to give back. He is an active volunteer for Willow Creek Care Center in Illinois and also developed the “Feed the Future” program at g2 revolution that provides a consistent source of donations to local food pantries.
A total of 551 undergraduate and 539 graduate students will receive diplomas from UF this spring with more than 800 participating in the commencement ceremonies.