Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO and co-founder of SanDisk, a global leader in flash storage solutions, told graduates of the University of California, Berkeley College of Engineering on May 18, 2014, to be adventurous.
“Take risks, be adventurous. Don't wait for all the answers. Get started now. But don’t be reckless! Find a smart and responsible way to do it faster, better, cheaper. I’m not a gambling man, but believe me, your quest will be much more exciting when you place big bets, and then win. You’ll lose a few times too, and that’s OK.”
This advice was delivered as part of a commencement address during which Mehrotra, talked about lessons he learned on his way to becoming a CEO.
“Making innovation meaningful requires execution, tenacity, attention to detail, and trusting your imagination at the most difficult of moments. Just because you can imagine a better mousetrap doesn’t necessarily mean that you can actually build one. The believer and the builder are co-captains leading the team. It takes more than 5,000 people to make a team like SanDisk successful today.”
Mehrotra talked about the important of finding and mentor and relayed the story of his father. Though now a member of the UC Berkeley Engineering Advisory Board, Mehrotra shared the difficulties he faced in first obtaining a student visa after his application was denied multiple times and how his father overcame the bureaucracy.
“My Dad’s tenacious conviction, courage, and his boldness, not only on that day at the Embassy but also throughout his life, has become my mantra: never, ever give up,” said Mehrotra. “If you have a dream, if you have a conviction, if you believe in something passionately, reach down deep within yourself and don’t take no for an answer!”
Finding a mentor within a company is extremely important, says Mehrotra. “Aside from picking the right industry, the right company, the right team, and the right job, I want you to be constantly on the lookout for movers and shakers—the high achievers who can mentor you. In the best sense of the phrase, take advantage of them! Great mentors can accelerate your career growth, help you learn faster, do more and make you shine.”
The commencement follows a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the university’s newly renovated SanDisk Computing Lab. Renovations to the lab and Cory Hall were funded by a $1 million donation from SanDisk to the UC Berkeley College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
The company also recently announced recipients for the 2013-2014 SanDisk Scholars Program, which provided more than $1 million in scholarships and grants to nearly 100 undergraduate and graduate university students in the United States to support their pursuit of degrees in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics discipline.