Speech by Mr Victor Mieres



SPEECH BY MR VICTOR MIERES
VICE PRESIDENT, EMERGING MARKETS
NATIONAL INSTRUMENTS

AT THE POLYTECHNIC’S 53RD  GRADUATION CEREMONY
TUESDAY, 21 MAY 2013, 5.30PM (SESSION 10)

 

Good morning and thank you for your kind introduction.

Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO, Singapore Polytechnic

Distinguished Guests

Parents and Graduands

Staff of Singapore Polytechnic

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

Introduction

  1. It is truly a distinct honor to be asked to share some thoughts with you, as you get ready to continue your personal and professional journey.

  2. Why am I speaking to you today? I work for National Instruments, where we develop tools that help scientists and engineers accelerate discovery and innovation.

  3. We call our approach Graphical System Design. It consists of hardware and software tools that allow you to create systems that require measurement and control. 

  4. I know that some of you have used our tools, such as LabVIEW, our graphical programming language in several courses, projects, and even exciting robotics competitions such as National Junior Robotics Competition (NJRC) and FIRST, where several of your teams have won awards. 

Why am I in Singapore?

  1. As the Vice President of Emerging Markets, I currently manage the regional system engineering, sales and marketing operations of the region based from our headquarters in Singapore, and just like you are about to do, I started my career in technology.

  2. As you can tell from my accent, I am not from Singapore.  So, how did I end up here? After my graduation as an Electronics Engineer from a University in Venezuela, South America, where I grew up, I landed my very first job as a field engineer for Schlumberger, a large Oilfield Service Company.  

  3. I remember then when the interviewer asked me where in the World I wanted to start my career in Schlumberger -I thought about it for minute - I borrowed the Earth Globe that he had on his desk; I put a finger on Venezuela. Then I put the other finger on the other side of the Globe; to my surprise, it landed in South East Asia. I then asked:  Can I work in Singapore?

  4. And that is how my journey began in Singapore. I had just turned 22.

  5. I signed my employment contract in the Schlumberger’s office in Parkway Parade; I then trained in Indonesia, and then I was fortunate to work on assignments in the field in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and back in Singapore.  After Schlumberger, I went to the US to work on my Master’s in Engineering at Stanford.

  6. After my graduation I decided to join a small startup in Texas, called National Instruments as a technical support engineer. My CEO asked me to support and help our customers and distributors in Asia and that gave me the opportunity to return to this part of the World. I spent the next decade opening our direct operations in Singapore and the rest of Asia, focusing on growing the business outside of the US.

  7. Finally, just last year, I relocated my family to live with me in this great city.

My message to you

  1. Director Ng invited me to give you some advice as you embark on your journey of growth and development.

  2. As I have learned from him and the many great lecturers that I have had the pleasure of meeting; Singapore Polytechnic has given you the tools to get each and every one of you to be “Life-Ready, Work-Ready and World-Ready”.

  3. Allow me to give you some recommendations that will undoubtedly help you fulfill that Vision of being Life/Work/World ready in the short, mid and long term.

  4. I want to thank several your fellow SP graduates, respected and successful leaders in their roles at National Instruments,  who work in sales and marketing; Renee , Jessie, Herrine and KC Chan who shared their perspectives with me.

  5. First, a reality check:  Your world today will bear little resemblance to the world 20 years from now. So these recommendations will help you become all rounded, more adaptable, and most importantly - resilient to change.

  6. These soft skills are especially important for those of you who are very technical, love technology, and may be “just a little” uncomfortable in matters of interpersonal relations.

Let’s start with: “Life-Ready” skills.

  1. Follow a passion outside of the technical realm that can make you be part of a larger purpose. Be part of a team, it can be a mission, organized sports, or community groups etc.

  2. You will learn to work with diverse people; you will learn about your strengths and weakness; and you will start to create a story about yourself. This will make you a happier and more interesting person.

Second: “Work-Ready” skills.

  1. Learn and practice leadership skills. Some of you will have the opportunity to serve your country during your upcoming National Service, which is one of the best ways of learning leadership skills.

  2. For those of you entering the work force, volunteer to take on projects and roles that allow you to hone your leadership abilities.

  3. For those of you continuing your studies, get involved in multidisciplinary teams, practice public speaking and try to get involved in roles that allow you to lead groups.

  4. And although it will feel unnatural and perhaps a bit uncomfortable, always choose to be or lead teams with people who are different than you.

Last and perhaps more importantly, “World-Ready” skills.

  1. The first thing I noticed when I came here many years ago was the fact that I couldn’t understand Singaporeans when they spoke to each other! I quickly learned that you speak a different and unique language called Singlish…   …So my recommendation is… …if you want to be World-ready, p.l.e.a.s.e. s.p.e.a.k. s.l.o.w.l.y. to people like me…

  2. In a more serious note, there is currently a healthy debate in this country about the role of the so-called “foreign talents”. There is some anxiety in the air. Some are saying that opportunities are diminished for you since you may be competing against graduates from outside of Singapore. 

  3. I would like to share my perspective as the head of National Instruments, a multinational employer in the region. In this new interconnected world, where Design may happen in one country, Testing and Prototyping in another, Manufacturing in yet another country, and finally, where Marketing, Sales and Support are needed wherever the costumers are, which is all over the Planet, the need for Talent is borderless or more specifically, the need for “borderless-talent”. 

  4. If you are willing and able to work with people from other countries and cultures many more opportunities will open up for you.

  5. With over 40 offices worldwide, NI is literally a global village; Jessie, Herrine, and Renee communicate and work closely with international colleagues on a daily basis.

  6. KC, who started his career as a support engineer in NI Singapore, now leads our Sales, Support and System Engineering operation in the largest operation for NI in China. So, don’t fret. Know that you are already ahead of many by being a multicultural, polyglot, and sophisticated Singaporean.

  7. My one recommendation to become World-Ready is to seek and embrace opportunities to interact and work with people outside of Singapore as often as possible. Do it with a sense of curiosity and excitement.

Closing

  1. Here you are my dear graduands. By remembering, and more importantly acting on these 3 recommendations, you will improve your chances of fulfilling the mission of the Singapore Polytechnic. 

    1. 1st.     Be a part of a team with a mission outside of technology
    2. 2nd.    Lead a team to develop leadership skills.
    3. 3rd.     Interact with people outside of Singapore.

  2.  These will help you become: 

Life-Ready

Work-Ready

And

World-Ready

  1. I sincerely wish you much success in your life.  Thank you.
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