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Engineering alumnus Forehand offers sage advice to Auburn graduates during fall commencement speech

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Standing on stage at Pat Die Field at Jordan Hare Stadium, Auburn alumnus and former Accenture CEO and CEO Joe Forehand give sage advice to the school’s latest batch of alumni during Friday night’s fall commencement festivities.

Forehand encouraged graduates to expect more of themselves than anyone else, develop mental toughness through hard work, learn from overcoming adversity, create opportunities for themselves and their colleagues and enjoy the journey.

“You will find discoveries along your journey that will give you the motivation to set that higher goal or standard for yourself,” Forehand said. “At some point, you will have to rely on your instincts and intuition when the right decision is not clear. If you want to create opportunities, you will have to keep learning and constantly reinventing yourself to remain relevant to our economy and society.”

Friday night’s speech also included the official awarding of more than 2,000 degrees by Auburn Board of Trustees member Michael Demayorepos, as well as the group’s honoring of undergraduate students graduating with academic excellence and an official welcome to the Auburn Alumni Association from President Regina Sanders.

Forehand, who received a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Auburn University in 1971 and a Master of Science in Industrial Management from Purdue University, summarized his observations for the latest group of Auburn alumni.

“Remember, it’s never too late to set higher expectations for yourself,” he said. “Embrace mental toughness to overcome any obstacles in your path. Don’t just solve problems, but use “rational optimism” to believe that we have yet to witness the world’s greatest discoveries.

“Be broke, rediscover yourself frequently, and above all, enjoy the ride. And remember the last sentence of Auburn Creed: “I believe in and love Auburn.”

Forehand led Accenture into the top 50 global brands during his tenure, organizing its initial public offering, or initial public offering, in 2001. Forehand increased Accenture’s revenue from $9.6 billion to $13.7 billion, and added nearly 40,000 employee to its workforce.

He has also served as a senior advisor at the private equity firm Kohlberg, Kravis, and Roberts and served as Chairman of First Data Corporation and Aricent.

Forehand also provided leadership advice to more than 2,000 alumni assembled at the stadium.

“Real leadership means creating an environment in which everyone celebrates the successes of their peers, not undermine them moving forward,” Forehand said. “It means creating an environment in which each team member performs to their highest potential and takes pride in reaching common goals. Real leaders understand that they must be great teachers, knowing the importance of sharing knowledge and wisdom in order to become a force multiplier and impact the world in a positive way.”

Forehand was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame, the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, and the Auburn University Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. He also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Auburn University in 2020 and was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Management by Purdue University.

Forehand was named Consultant of the Year by Consulting Magazine, 15 Most Inspirational Leaders in Information Technology Week, Computerworld’s Smithsonian Honors Program, CRN’s Top 5 CEOs, and Institute of Industrial Engineers Industry Leaders. He has served on the Auburn University Foundation Board and was the co-chair of the $1.2 billion Auburn campaign that concluded in 2018 and awarded numerous scholarships and professorships at Auburn.

The university concluded the Friday night program with an exciting fireworks display, and all the graduates were able to have their photos taken on stage at Pat Die Field and their names displayed on the jumptron at Jordan Hare Stadium. Saturday’s commencement ceremonies for undergraduates were moved to Auburn Arena due to inclement weather.

Walter “Walt” Waltus – a two-time Auburn graduate – received an honorary Doctor of Science from the College of Engineering on Friday night. This honor, the 160th honorary degree in Auburn history, was unanimously approved by the Auburn Board of Trustees at its April meeting for “Woltosz’s service to the university, the state, the nation, and the service of mankind.”

Woltosz earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University in aerospace engineering in 1969, a master’s degree in management sciences from the University of Alabama at Huntsville in 1976 and a master’s in aerospace engineering from Auburn in 1977. He worked in the aerospace industry from 1971 to 1983, where Work in the field of development. Simulation and modeling software for the design of rocket engines and solid-fueled missile systems.

Woltosz and his wife, Ginger, founded Words + Inc. , a pioneer in the development of augmented communication systems for people with severe disabilities, including Sir Stephen Hawking. Hawking used the programs Words + Equalizer and Words + EZ Keys to continue his pioneering work and write several books, including “A Brief History of Time”.

He also founded Simulations Plus Inc. As Chairman and former CEO, he oversaw the development of one of the nation’s leading high-tech companies dedicated to providing leading-edge drug simulation and modeling software in healthcare. As a leading authority in these fields, Woltosz has published dozens of articles in highly respected publications such as the American Association of Pharmacologists, or AAPS, Journal, and the Journal of Computer Aided Molecular Design, where his work has been widely recognized as highly innovative and groundbreaking.

Woltosz serves on the Auburn University Foundation Board, the Auburn Graduate Engineering Council, and the Auburn University Research Advisory Board. He was inducted into the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2008 and in 2016 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Auburn Alumni Association.

“I am very happy to receive this, it is a great honor,” said Woltosz, an accomplished pilot with an Air Transport Pilot Certificate, as well as a helicopter rating. “Auburn is a magical place that drips in your blood. My blood is red, but I swear it’s orange and blue if you put it under the right light.”

Woltosz and Ginger have generously donated to many areas of Auburn University, including the Samuel Jane College of Engineering, Gogge Center for the Performing Arts, Auburn Athletics, College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Architecture, Design and Construction, Department of Student Affairs and War Eagle. Motorsports. Woltoszes are members of 1856 Auburn University, the Petrie, Foy and Pat Dye Athletics Association, as well as the Eagles College of Engineering, Keystone and Ginn Societies.

2,021 graduates participated in the graduation ceremony, including 406 master’s, 105 doctorate and 17 specializations. The remaining 1,493 were bachelor’s degrees.



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