CEO Shawn Boyer Addresses Master’s Candidates, May 11

Shawn Boyer delivered the UMW Graduate Commencement Address

Shawn Boyer, founder and chief executive officer of, spoke at the University of Mary Washington’s graduate commencement ceremony on Friday, May 11, emphasizing the importance of living a purposeful and intentional life.

“Most of us don’t think about our life plans as much as our business plans,” he said, noting the need to establish core values, set goals and choose positive peers.

Boyer addressed more than 1,000, including graduates, family members, friends and faculty. The ceremony was the first commencement held at the recently opened William M. Anderson Center. A total of 230 graduate degrees were awarded, including 102 master of education degrees, 73 master of business administration degrees, 30 master of science in elementary education degrees and 21 master of science in management information systems degrees. Four graduates received both the MBA and the MSMIS in a dual-degree program.

Mission statements are not solely for businesses, Boyer said. He explained how the process of creating a personal statement based on his core values has helped his life become more fulfilled.

“You need an operating plan as a person,” he said. “It will influence how you are going to interact with others.”

Just as important, he emphasized, is creating goals for every aspect of life, even if those goals evolve over time.

“Get into the rhythm of setting goals,” he said.

Boyer founded, the nation’s largest online community of hourly workers with more than 28 million members, in 1999. Headquartered in Richmond, Va., has been named one of the 10 Best Small Companies to Work for in America by the Society for Human Resource Management and the Great Place to Work Institute.

He credited his company’s success to its continued focus on people.

“People are everything,” he said, suggesting that graduates surround themselves with people who will make a positive impact.

In 2008, President George W. Bush recognized Boyer as the National Small Business Person of the Year, a distinction given by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Boyer, author of “Help Wanted & Help Found: The Insiders’ Guide to Recruiting & Hiring Hourly Workers,” was named Virginia’s Business Person of the Year in 2009. His insights on the hourly workforce have appeared in media such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Good Morning America and CNN, as well as daily newspapers throughout the nation.

Prior to founding, Boyer was a transactional attorney with the law firm of Brown & Wood LLP (now Sidley Austin, LLP).  He is a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the Washington and Lee School of Law, and he received his LL.M. in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. He currently serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations, including The Richmond Forum, Sports Backers, Comfort Zone Camp, Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce and the George C. Marshall Foundation.

Neil Howe, historian, economist and best-selling author, will address the undergraduate commencement on Saturday, May 12 at Ball Circle on the Fredericksburg campus.

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News release prepared by: Brynn Boyer                                 

About Brynn Boyer

Brynn Boyer is assistant director of media and public relations and a 2010 graduate of UMW.


  1. […] Fredericksburg, Va., Shawn Boyer, of the law school Class of 1997, addressed the graduate commencement ceremony at the University of Mary Washington and told the graduates that they need "an operating plan as a person. It will influence how you are […]