Speech by Mr Irving Tan

TUESDAY, 21 MAY 2013, 2.00PM (SESSION 11)


Good afternoon:

  • Mr. Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO of Singapore Polytechnic
  • Academic staff
  • Parents and soon-to-be graduates,

This is a special day for the graduates and their families.  

For you graduates, it marks a major milestone in your journey into adulthood. For parents, it’s a day of great pride and a validation of the sacrifices I know many of you have made for your children.

Graduates, you have made astute choices in your diplomas today in:

  • Bioelectronics,
  • Network Technology,
  • Aerospace,
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • And one that is closest to my heart: Information Communication Technologies

… these industries are the foundation for Singapore’s future.

Singapore’s natural resource is in people, like you, who are critical to our economic success and our global competitiveness.

The platform for Singapore’s continued growth and leadership and, to be honest, our lives, is technology and in particular, the Internet, the internet of everything.

The future, where you will be leaders in your industries, is one where everything is connected to the internet.

The internet of everything turns information into action.

Creating new capabilities, richer experiences, and unprecedented economic opportunity for businesses, individuals like you and countries like Singapore.

As a result, you are entering a world that is constantly changing and success will be based on your ability to commit to a lifetime of learning and continuous education.

Already, the Internet has benefited many individuals, businesses, and countries by:

  • Improving education through the democratization of information
  • Allowing for economic growth through electronic commerce
  • And improving business innovation by enabling greater collaboration.

The internet of everything brings together people, process, data, and things to make networked connections more relevant and valuable than ever before.

Today, 99.4 percent of physical objects are still unconnected.

  • Which means that only about 10 billion of the 1.5 trillion things globally are connected
  • These facts highlight the vast potential of connecting the unconnected.

In 2000, we estimated that TWO HUNDRED MILLION things were connected to the Internet.

Looking to the future, we predict there will be TWENTY FIVE BILLION devices connected to the Internet by 2015, and FIFTY BILLION by 2020.

Let me run that by you again:

  • In 2000, two hundred million things connected
  • In 2015, twenty five billion devices connected
  • By 2020, fifty billion things connected to the internet.

Let me clarify that it isn’t just about connecting your mobile devices.

It is about machine-to-machine (M2M), person-to-machine (P2M), and person-to-person (P2P) connectivity.

As technology advances exponentially, the Internet won’t just connect the things we use, it will connect everything in more meaningful ways.

For example, the roads will be connected to the traffic lights, that will be connected to cars, with cloud based data centers managing the entire traffic flow.

What this means for you all sitting here today, is a future (and a lot of these are already available now) with:

  • A connected army
  • A connected university
  • A connected workplace
  • A connected community (social media)
  • A connected world

Your competitive advantage is having a diploma from Singapore Polytechnic, which has been working closely with the industry to develop solutions that leverage on, and add value to, companies across diverse industry sectors like bioelectronics, ICT and aerospace.

But it will not all be smooth sailing as I can personally atest to .

The world will throw indifference or apathy at you.

Financial constraints will most likely be ever present, as will the fluctuating courage and the conviction to continue.


Keep Calm.

Stay true to your moral compass.

Dream On.

You have within you right now, everything you need to deal with what the world can throw at you.

  • A world-class education empowering you to reach your limitless potential
  • The courage of your convictions to challenge boundaries and obstacles that stand in your way
  • The passion to dream wildly and the strength of character to honor your word

As you graduate, we entrust you - the future generation with these responsibilities:

  • Find your passion and think big. Join your dream company, be an entrepreneur, learn from young start-ups, never give up.
  • Seek mentors and sponsors. Get mentored by people you admire. Seek sponsors who are leaders and who can help push your careers in the right direction.
  • Be the best at what you decide to do. Don’t try. Do.
  • Work smart and remember, there is no substitute for hard-work.
  • To quote our former prime minister and minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew, “Achieving your vision and goals requires discipline and hard work.”
  • Embrace technology. It is the fabric of our lives.
  • Remember your days here and give back in your role as alumni.
  • Never forget your family and the sacrifices they have made for you– they are the reason you are able to sit here today.
  • Remember the friendships you have developed and the network you have built here over the last few years. These relationships will last you a lifetime. 

For those of you entering the workforce, I wish you all the very best and a bright future ahead.

For the Singaporean gentlemen in the room, all the best in your transition from Ah Boys to Men. Wear the uniform with pride and make the nation proud of you.

Thank you.

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