Tim Cook at Bocconi University

Michael E. Kirkpatrick ·

The following is my transcription of two videos of Tim Cook’s speech for the inauguration of the academic year at Bocconi University (Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi) in Milan, Italy. Given November 10, 2015.


It is great to be here and here in Italy. Apple feels right at home here; how could we not? Within Italy there are so many places, so many people, so many companies where you find a passion for great design and craftsmanship; an artisan’s focus on detail. Throughout history this nation has proven the great value of design where form meets function and aspiration. This is a country that shows that excellence means making the best, not necessarily the most. Time and time again, Italy has changed the way we think, how we live, and how we structure our societies. You’ve proven that a great idea can truly change the world. At Apple, we believe that too. And every day I am reminded of the strong connection between Italy and Apple because I rely on something else from this great nation; Luca Maestri our CFO. Luca is here today with me and I know he’s glad to be home. Luca [gestures].

And I’m really glad to be here too. And I’m especially happy to join you at this great university. Being here with you makes me think when I was in business school at Duke University more years ago than I care to admit. It makes me remember how impatient I was to start making my mark on the world. And I guess most of you feel that way. In fact I hope you do. And I hope you hang on to that impatience throughout your entire life. What I loved most about business school, more than any specific classes I took, was the teamwork. The camaraderie. The culture of collaboration. Business school like business itself can be pretty competitive. But there was a mindset there at Duke that said we’d all be better if we worked together. And you know what? They were right.

My very first night at Duke I really lucked out. I happened to sit next to five other people who became some of my best friends. We formed a study group. A study group of six very different people, men and women, from different regions, from different ethnic background and very different political views. We each had unique skills and interests and varied goals for our careers. But we used our differences to make us stronger.

Together we found we were kind of unstoppable. We took some pretty tough classes and we found that among our group there was always someone that brought a different strength to the subject area. The alliance we formed lasted throughout our two years of school and we’ve stayed in touch ever since and we continue to support each other, to push each other in both our lives and our careers.

[Break in Video]

Apple is open to everyone, and always will be. I’ve been fortunate to join a company that shares my values. And my great hope for you is that you do the same because the rest of us are counting on you. You have before you an incredible opportunity. I would actually call it an obligation. You owe it to yourself and to the rest of the world to be a part of something that serves a noble purpose, however you define it. And you can do that through your work because now, more than ever, businesses are in a position to help societies solve their greatest problems. The responsibility should not rest on governments alone. Whether we’re talking about climate change or equal rights, the challenges we face are simply to great for businesses to stand on the sidelines; especially today when companies have more capacity to do more good in more ways for more people than at any point in human history.

Push the boundaries. Reject old assumptions because you really can do business differently. You really can lead with your values and your passion to change the world. Bocconi of course was founded on this very idea more than 100 years ago. The idea that business at its best serves the public good; that idea is as vital today as it was a century ago.

So what will your success look like? As you consider that question, understand that the whole world has a stake in your answer. The world has a stake in how you do business. Milan is a global city. Bocconi is a global university and you are citizens not only of Italy, or your respective countries, but you are citizens of the world and you have a voice to be heard across continents. Use it. Speak up. You are better connected to the rest of the globe than any generation has ever been. And I hope that’s exciting to you. It’s incredibly exciting to me. The lessons you’re learning here at Bocconi, the knowledge you’re building and the connections you’ll make can help you truly change the world and improve the lives of many people.

[Break in Video]

If you serve through your work a moral purpose, if you insist on business that serves the greater good, then you will leave the world better than you found it. and you will succeed by any metric that matters. Best of luck. And thank you, thank you all.


Two parts used for transcription:

  1. Tim Cook: discorso alla Bocconi di Milano

Official video from Bocconi University, not available to United States users of YouTube.