Start main page content

The time for bosses is over

- Wits University

Enthusiastic young people should be given a chance, even if they don’t have the experience.

“They (just) need to have enthusiasm and want to work and connect with people,” Stanley Bergman, CEO of Henry Schein, a leading Fortune 500 Company, told graduands after he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Commerce at Wits University. 

Delivering the keynote address during the ceremony for graduands from the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, Bergman said he is fortunate to have had many mentors who imparted valuable lessons to him, such as Jay Schein of Henry Schein, his high school teacher Mr Earl, and Wits Law Professor Ellison Kahn.

As a youngster, he battled ill-health and was often absent from school, had illegible handwriting and was advised not to consider applying to university.

However, his courage combined with the kindness and belief of his mentors paved the way for him to rise above expectations. 

Time for bosses is over

Staying on mentorship, Bergman said today’s businesses were searching for a different kind of leader.

“In the year 2016, no one wants bosses. We all want coaches, facilitators and mentors – the world of bosses is gone. Mentors who will support people and ideas,” said Bergman.

“You have an opportunity to repay your education to society by being a mentor to the people you are going to work for going forward. Business leaders have an obligation to give back to society. ”

He added: “We must also engage with all those with whom we come into contact, regardless of race, class or culture so that we can build bridges and an inclusive humanity for the betterment of society. You need to remember that every single step you take will be an education – you will learn as much outside the classroom, as inside.” 


About Stanley Bergman

Since 1989, Bergman has been Chairman of the Board and CEO of Henry Schein, Inc., a Fortune 500 company and the world’s largest provider of health care products and services to office-based dental, animal health and medical practitioners, with operations or affiliates in 33 countries. The Company’s 2015 sales reached a record $10.6 billion. Henry Schein has been a Fortune World’s Most Admired Company for 15 consecutive years and is ranked #1 in its industry on Fortune’s 2016 list of the World’s Most Admired Companies.

Bergman has made a success of his career and has made a difference to countless people’s lives as a champion of preventive health care and universal health care access. He also has advanced dialogue among people of different cultures and beliefs to work towards a better understanding among people.

Bergman and his wife Dr Marion Bergman, a medical specialist and Wits alumna, and their sons, Paul and Eddie, are active supporters of organisations fostering the arts, higher education, cultural diversity and grassroots health care and sustainable entrepreneurial economic development initiatives in the United States, Africa and other developing regions of the world. 

As the longstanding Chair of the Wits Fund Inc. in New York, Bergman and his family work on growing and advancing the University’s alumni body in the United States, many of whom also generously support Wits and serve as ambassadors for Wits in their respective fields.

They have contributed to a range of programmes in Africa, including refurbishing the only dental school in Tanzania. In the 1990s the Bergmans were avid supporters of an organisation called Medical Education for South African Blacks (MESAB), which provided approximately 7,000 scholarships for South African health professional students. Dr Bergman was the treasurer and served on MESAB’s board. 

Bergman serves as a board member or advisor for numerous institutions including New York University College of Dentistry; the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine; the Columbia University Medical Center; World Economic Forum’s Health Care Governors; the Business Council for International Understanding; and the Metropolitan Opera. 

He is an honorary member of the American Dental Association and the Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity. His awards include being the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the CR Magazine Corporate Responsibility Lifetime Achievement Award; a Doctor of Humane Letters from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health; an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Case Western Reserve University; and Honorary Fellowship of King’s College London and the International College of Dentists.