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SPEECH BY MR ESMOND CHOO
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
UOB KAY HIAN
AT THE 52nd GRADUATION CEREMONY
WEDNESDAY, 23 MAY 2012 (SESSION 7)

Member of the Board of Governors
Mr Tan Hang Cheong, Principal, Singapore Polytechnic
Distinguished Guests
Parents and Graduands
Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank you for inviting me to address you on this very happy occasion. It is both a privilege and an honor for me to be standing here to share this special moment as we celebrate the achievements of our graduating class.

This day is the culmination of 3 years of hard work and marks a major milestone in your lives. No one can take this personal achievement from you.

Graduation from Singapore Polytechnic is both an ending and a beginning.
As your time as a student of Singapore Polytechnic  draws to a close, this is the first significant step in your lives as young adults in achieving your career ambitions, be it work or further studies.

I recall with a tinge of nostalgia, my time as a student and young adult before I entered into the workforce.

Like a good book, the early chapters are filled with much anticipation and excitement.
You are all authors of your own book of life.
It is important that your book can go the distance and not fizzle out at the first twist in the plot. Each subsequent chapter must be carefully thought through with an objective and timing in mind. There is always a right time for everything.

In so doing you are better able to put to practice what you have learnt in the Poly as well as the workplace.
Living in one of the world’s leading financial centres you have chosen wisely in pursuing a course in accountancy, or banking and finance.

Being a global financial centre means that Singapore is also a hotbed for talent not just from Singapore but from all around the Globe where the ethos of hard work and quick learning are a “given “ for a successful career.

Whilst technical knowledge provides the inner steel to withstand challenge  to one’s conviction, successful youth of today must develop and articulate clearly their vision and creative ideas which they apply in the workplace.
I was asked by your Principal, Mr Tan Hang Cheong to share with you some insights I have gained through the years as a student and now a stockbroker.
At the risk of over simplifying it, I believe the ingredients of success could be summarised in a few points which I would like to share with you.

Firstly, Putting in the Effort.                  

In everything you do, do make sure you Put your Best into it.
It will require perseverance in making sure that you do your homework and understand fully what is required of the task you are assigned.
Sadly I often see my younger colleagues misapplying themselves by going off-tangent and all the hard work they put in is wasted.
It is not be going to be easy, but do try to apply vision and perceptiveness to your hard work when you enter into the employment market. That little spark provides the “WOW” factor which will set you apart from the rest!
Your career will also have its share of failures.
As important as celebrating your success, let not failures daunt you. There is no sin in acknowledging your mistakes and it is certainly a virtue to learn from them.       

Secondly, strive to Add Value to whatever you do.  

Whether it be writing that important business plan or contributing your views at a meeting, make an effort to look beyond the obvious.                                          
Take a fresh angle and think out of the box! 
Be sure that you have given sufficient thought to the subject matter.
Express your views in succinct terms. An idea which cannot be expressed in less than 5 to 6 points would be too convoluted. Be prepared to elaborate if required but not as a default rule.
Maintaining silence at meetings is not really an option as your superiors and colleagues value your views! No one appreciates a pedestrian in a team.                    

Thirdly, Read and Interact Widely

Deepening one’s knowledge can only be achieved  by reading and interacting widely.
Analyse what you read and try to apply it to your own situation.
Through time you will be amazed by your own development and by how easy it is for you to express a coherent and impactful view based on your own knowledge and expertise gained from your investment in reading up more and testing the views on the people you interact with.
Knowledge and learning manifest themselves in many ways and forms. Be alive to them.

And Last but certainly not the least, Tend to your Relationships

In the corporate world it is important that you manage upwards in your relationships with your superiors. You will need manage your relationships laterally with your colleagues  and with your subordinates who support you.
Remember that your leadership qualities are recognised by your superiors;  how your colleagues and subordinates perceive you will give you an idea of how successful you are as a leader.
Your relationship with the people around you also merits attention.
Success alone cannot bring you fulfilment.
At the end of the day it is your family and friends, who will provide you the fulfilment and balance in life.
Many successful individuals show their fulfilled lives by giving back to society. It is never too early to be actively involved in your community despite your busy life.

So… remember to play your PART (P. A. R. T.) 

Putting in Hard Work 

Adding  Value to whatever you do.

Reading  and Interacting  Widely and 

Tending to your Relationships

Acknowledgement

This is also the occasion where we will need to acknowledge some special people in our midst.

Your Principal and School have worked hard in the last 3 years to give you a head start.                                    
There were many initiatives taken by the school in the last three years to prepare you for life after School.
This year, the SP Business School signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with UOB Kay Hian where Singapore Polytechnic and UOB Kay Hian will collaborate to conduct training seminars and run trading simulations which will expose our students to the world of investment, appreciate its vagaries, pick up useful fundamental analysis and technical charting skills as applied to a real life environment. 
Those who are keen will be mentored by UOB Kay Hian’s experienced dealing professionals.
These invaluable skills learnt by Singapore Poly students will carry them through their lives ahead.

Accolades

The students of Singapore Polytechnic  who scored several  firsts in several areas also deserve our accolades.
SP Business School has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants that allows SP Diploma in Accountancy students to start taking their professional examinations whilst still in the Polytechnic.                                                                     
Seven students from this graduating batch have concurrently been awarded the CIMA Diploma in Management Accounting with their SP Diploma today.  
It is also heartening to note that three Diploma in Accountancy students have been awarded the Nanyang Scholarship this year.

I also understand that three SP Business School teams achieved the distinction of reaching the finals of the 2011 National Management Competition. The competition was eventually won by our Banking & Financial Services Diploma alumni team.
In a separate Citibank Foreign Exchange Challenge held in 2011, SP graduands also excelled by sweeping three of the top five awards which were up for grabs.      
These achievements are a clear testament to the quality program offered by SP Business School in preparing our youth for employment.

CONCLUSION

In closing, I am happy to offer my heartiest congratulations to all award winners for your sterling performance.                                      
You have done your school and family proud.
I wish each of you a successful and a fulfilling career ahead.