When he graduated from Indiana State University in the Class of 1985, Todd Osburn had no idea he would one day be commencement speaker for a future graduating class. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that would happen.”
Now a founding partner at Greyrock Capital in Chicago, Osburn will be the honored guest for winter commencement at his alma mater.
“It’s been on my mind a lot lately,” he said. “I am obviously taking it very seriously and want to make sure to say something that will resonate with the graduates and not be boring.”
Of course, Osburn modestly doesn’t reveal until asked about the life experiences that make him such an ideal choice to speak to young graduates. Born in Terre Haute, Osburn knew early on that he would have to work his way through college. And he did. He worked a full-time job at the former Pillsbury plant while attending classes.
Osburn understood that in order to succeed in his profession, he would have to put forth extra effort.
“That’s one thing I want to tell students,’” he said. “I am kind of the poster child for that. I’m clearly not exceptional and was an average student at best, but I’ve worked my tail off throughout my career …. I would much rather hire somebody with that type of attitude than someone who is book smart and doesn’t have the attitude or drive.”
In 2001, Osburn did something that might have panicked others. Learning that their division was going to be shut down and that they would be given other jobs, Osburn and three colleagues started their own business.
“We said, ‘This is the perfect time to spin out and do our own thing.’ That gave us the opportunity to do something we probably wouldn’t have done,” he said.
Two years ago, Osburn and his wife, Caroline Howe, looked back over the successful paths they have taken and decided they would like to give back by funding the financial services office suite in the Scott College of Business.
“Indiana State University gave me a really good foundation,” Osburn said. “But more importantly, it taught me how to learn. The reality is that when you graduate from college, the learning isn’t over. In fact, it is just beginning.”