Chase’s Dimon to Students: You Can ‘Hold Me Accountable’

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie DimonDespite controversy over his selection as commencement speaker, JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon today drew a mostly positive response from Syracuse University students as he urged them to “have the fortitude to do the right thing, not the easy thing.”
As the head of a financial giant, Dimon’s appearance to the students represented the banking industry, a key player in the financial crisis that has left a weak economy to greet this year’s graduating class.
Dimon spoke of the controversy and said he contacted one of the students who protested his selection –  and was impressed.
“I heard her concerns about me, the nation’s banking system and about capitalism itself,” Dimon told the crowd of about 17,000 students, relatives and guests. “Some I thought were legitimate, others I disagreed with. But whether I agree with her or not, I say ‘good for her;’ I’m proud of her for speaking up.
“In fact, it is completely appropriate to hold me accountable for those things I am responsible for.”
Except for a few boos in the beginning, Dimon’s speech drew much applause with only a few spurts of protest, including about a dozen students who removed their graduation robes.
Dimon urged graduates to do the right thing, and not to be somebody’s “lapdog.”  And he told them to have the courage to take responsibility and speak the truth. He also touched upon the impact of the economic crisis on his company and his industry.
“Throughout my life, throughout this crisis in the past three years, I’ve seen many people embarrass themselves by failing to stand up, being mealy-mouthed and acting like lemmings by simply going along with the pack,” Dimon said. “I also saw plenty of people under enormous pressure who always did the right thing.”
He also much praised for many in the private and public sector during the most trying times.
“At the darkest moments when it seemed like the whole system was unraveling, I saw men and women in my company, and in many other companies and in the governments around the world who took extraordinary action,” Dimon said. “They didn’t whine or complain, and when they got knocked down they got up and tried to do something about it.”
JPMorgan financed the $30 million JPMorgan Chase Technology Center at the University, where students can learn from bank employees who run the company’s technology operations.

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