THURSDAY, 26 MAY 2011 (Session 10)

Mr. Tan Hang Cheong, Principal Singapore Polytechnic

Mr. Gan Boon San, Member, Board of Governors,

Faculty of SP, 

Distinguished Guests, Parents and Graduands


    ood afternoon.  I am honoured to join you at this 51st Graduation Ceremony of the Singapore Polytechnic.  My heartiest congratulations go to each and every graduand on your successful completion of your Diploma course.  As we celebrate your achievements, we also welcome you into the 160,000-strong alumni family. You are a part of this rich and illustrious heritage of your alma mater.

  1. I am impressed to hear that among this cohort of graduands, there are many notable achievements.  Out of the seven institutional awards given out, three were won by graduands from this school.  Sean Lee, who won the Lee Kuan Yew Award, is from the Diploma in Business Information Technology course. He is also named Sportsman of the Year; the highest accolade in this category given out by the institution. I understand Sean has started training in Sydney for the Olympics selection and his dream is to make it to the London Olympics in 2012.

  2. The Chua Chor Teck Gold Medal is awarded to the Diploma in Digital Media course medalist, Vicki Lau. Vicki and her course mate Alvin Lee have also clinched the inaugural Sony-SP Independent Certificate of Excellence Award; a collaboration with the industry to spot talented and devoted students in the field of digital media and video production.  The award comes with an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas to attend the National Association of Broadcasters Show 2011, a prestigious event attended by film-making professionals.

  3. Your cohort is also the pioneer batch of polytechnic students to have participated in the NUS-MDA Singapore Hollywood Attachment Programme. In the past, this programme was offered only to university undergraduates. Nine students from this cohort were given the opportunity to intern at prestigious institutions like University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of Southern California, and Virginia Tech.  The exposure from this immersion programme has no doubt opened your minds and broadened your horizon.  This year, yet another nine students who are your juniors have been selected. I am told competition was stiff but SP has clinched the most places amongst the polytechnics.

  4. A significant number of you have also acquired industry certifications, such as the EC-Council Certified Ethical Hackers, Oracle Certified Professional, SAP Certified Professional amongst others.

  5. Last year, 7,000 or 33 per cent of the O-level students who qualified for a place in the JCs chose the three-year polytechnic route.  They cited specialised courses, a hands-on approach and opportunities to explore their interest at a deeper level as the reasons for choosing the poly route. In line with this trend, the local universities are opening up more places for polytechnic graduates.

  6. Our top graduand and Low Guan Onn Gold Medal winner, Steven Li, has struggled to make a choice between JC and Poly.  He switched from JC to take up the Diploma in Information Technology at SP.  With passion and strong determination, he sailed through the course with a perfect GPA of 4.0.  As an active Microsoft Student Partner, he had the opportunity to be attached to the Microsoft Innovation Centre.  Last year, at the Windows 7 launch at Suntec City attended by some 500 people, among them CEOs and COOs, he gave a presentation on how the new operating system had made him more efficient as a student.  He was grateful for that opportunity because that 10-minute experience became the most magical and memorable moment of his life.  He has been recently awarded the Kent Ridge Undergraduate Merit Scholarship from the National University of Singapore to pursue a degree in Information Systems.

  7. These are but some examples of student achievements that show the quality of the SP graduate.  And it is always good to remember that behind them is the support of family and friends as well as the hardworking faculty who put together not just the curriculum to imbue you with the latest IT knowledge but also the hardware, software and indeed the heartware that makes SP so special.

Challenging but Exciting Times

  1. You are graduating amidst challenging but exciting times. The Annual Infocomm Manpower Survey 2010 revealed that some 16,000 infocomm job vacancies are expected; of which about seven in ten jobs are at infocomm organisations.  These job vacancies include IT professionals such as systems analysts and programmers, and those who provide IT administrative support.

  2. The interactive digital media sector also received a boost from several initiatives. For example, the National Research Foundation announced in Mar this year, a new $100 million programme to boost the development of real-time applications that can help improve lives.  MDA has also allocated a $10 million fund for stereoscopic 3D productions, with $2 million set aside for feature films. The convergence of infocomm and mobile technology has led to greater connectivity and interactivity, and will open up even more opportunities in the digital space. Professionals trained in web technologies and mobile content development are in high demand.  Overall, there is demand for skilled ICT professionals.

Definition of Success

  1. There is an old story of a young stag (deer) who while drinking from a spring, admired its beautiful horns as reflected from the pool.  He thought to himself how large and well-shaped they were, unlike his legs which seemed so ugly. How he wished he did not have legs like them. While he was lost in thought, a hungry lion crept up from behind, ready to spring on the unsuspecting stag. Fortunately, the slight rustle of the grass, alerted the stag who immediately sprang off.  As long as the grassy plains spread out before him, the stag could keep running.  But as soon as he reached the woods, his horns became entangled with the vines and he found himself stuck. He cried to himself and lamented how his legs tried to save him but the very antlers which he admired most has led him to his demise. Trapped in the mesh of vines, he soon became the hungry lion’s meal.

  2. What is the moral of this story?  The things we don’t value are sometimes worth a lot!

  3. What do you value and what is success to you?  All of you, I’m sure, aspire to be successful.  And this milestone graduation in your life must surely count towards that success.  There are some amongst you who perhaps may think of success as providing for your family, or being able to afford certain material assets, or in terms of a rich and rewarding career.  Armed and equipped with valuable knowledge and skills as a result of this course, you are no doubt eager to take on life’s challenges.  Hence, I thought I’d like to share with you my perspective of success and of something I value.   

  4. Let me start with a simple saying, “… and in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years!”  Life is precious.  What you do with it makes a difference.  So live a full life.  Interestingly, the word “live” or L I V E, is a useful acronym to share how one can approach it.
    1. L is for Learn.  Don’t stop learning just because you’ve graduated. Continue to learn.  It is a sure way to keep relevant and continue to contribute to whatever cause you have in mind.  You don’t stop learning because you grow old, you grow old because you stop learning. 

    2. I is for inspire.  Yes, you can inspire others.  You can make a difference in other people’s lives by inspiring them through what you say and do.  And honestly, in taking up life’s challenges, you never know when you make an impact on someone else’s life.  All of us, in small ways and big, can make a positive difference to others. 

    3. V is for values.  You are all talents in your own right.  But talent without focus is like an octopus on roller skates. You can be sure there’ll be plenty of movement but you won’t know in which direction.  In living your life, one compass that will always guide you as you head true north, are your values.  Keep them strong and close to heart. 

    4. E is for engagement.  No man is an island. You will need to be engaged and stay connected with your colleagues, friends and community.  And if I may make a pitch here, stay engaged with your SP alumni and also with the larger ICT community, perhaps through the Singapore Computer Society.  The networking whether for professional or social reasons is important and useful.   
      So, LIVE your life. It is precious and to be valued. Continue to learn, inspire others, keep your values strong and close to heart and stay engaged and connected with your community. 

Final Takeaways

  1. I asked SP for some feedback from both students and faculty on the course.  Some students mentioned that the most memorable moments were from the industrial internship attachments and project work where you experienced real working environments and learnt about real world problems and deadlines.  Still others talked about being able to pick up new technologies and the hard and soft skills that make for an effective team player.  Others, went beyond the classroom and talked about the IT competitions, community services, overseas immersion programmes and study trips.  And there were many who felt great about making good friends over the years and working together to overcome various challenges along the way. 

  2. And there seems to be some similarity with the feedback from the faculty.  Many of your teachers expressed satisfaction at seeing you grow and excel in your studies, your project work and industrial attachments.  Others had a deep sense of fulfillment to see the transformation of a student who started with little IT knowledge, into a knowledgeable and confident person. 

  3. These are all your memories, joys and hopes.  Treasure them as your story continues to unfold.  I hope you will come back to SP (as many of your alumni did at annual homecoming events) to tell us your story of your ongoing journey, which had a small but noteworthy start here. 

  4. So, may I conclude with the saying that for every journey, there is an end; but in the end, it is the journey.  May I wish all of you, a most satisfying and fulfilling journey and my warmest congratulations to this graduating class.

  5. Thank you.