Professional and personal success can be achieved by following the “Georgetown factor,” according to Joseph Baratta (GSB ’93), the global head of private equity at the asset management company Blackstone, at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business commencement ceremony Friday, May 17.
Baratta, who graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown’s business school in 1993, spoke to the specific traits and resources graduates have obtained in gaining a business education at Georgetown in his address. Traits of modesty and passion, which build to create a “Georgetown factor” in teaching students how to be and not just what to do, will set graduates apart as they move along their career paths, according to Baratta.
“Hard work, humility, honesty — these are the things that will distinguish you beyond your talent or intelligence. These are the things that win respect and admiration,” Baratta said. “I’m a pretty good investor, but I credit my success as a professional and also importantly as a father and a friend to the ‘Georgetown factor.’”
A first-generation college student, Baratta’s mother was born without a birth certificate to farm workers in Oklahoma, and his father was a bodybuilder who ran a chain of gyms, he said in his address. Both of his parents informed him of the important role of hard work, rather than luck, in achieving success, according to Baratta.
“My dad was an amazing man, and he and my mother instilled in me the belief that there was no special reason why some people are accomplished in life and certainly no reason why I could not be one of them,” Baratta said.
Baratta has served as Blackstone’s global head of private equity since 2012, but he joined the firm in 1998. During his time at Blackstone, Baratta has been involved in many of the firm’s significant private equity transactions and helped establish Blackstone’s private equity business in Europe. Before joining Blackstone, Baratta also worked at two private investment firms, Tinicum Incorporated and McCown De Leeuw & Company.
Following Baratta’s address, MSB Dean Paul Almeida and Vice Dean Pietra Rivoli presented Baratta with the Dean’s Medal for his service and contributions to the school. The MSB graduated more than 900 students, including 336 undergraduates, in the commencement ceremony on Healy Lawn on Friday.
Other colleges have begun to incorporate the type of values a Georgetown education has historically provided to its students, according to Baratta.
“When we look out at the higher education landscape, we see schools across the country looking to rethink their mission and curriculum to encompass justice, ethics and morality,” Baratta said. “These virtues have formed the basis of Georgetown’s mission since its founding.”
Baratta currently serves on the Georgetown board of directors, the MSB board of advisors and the MSB Global Business Initiative advisory board.
In 2016, Barrata and his family established the Baratta Endowed Global Business Education Fund, which supports business consulting projects for undergraduate students, as part of a $7.3 million donation to the MSB.
As students graduate from Georgetown, they should strive to use the values they learned at Georgetown to guide their actions, Baratta said.
“It’s not enough for me to say there’s a Georgetown difference. We must embody that difference,” Baratta said. “We need to reinforce that difference and we need to project that difference into the world.”