SPEECH BY MR OLIVIER DE ROTALIER
AT THE POLYTECHNIC'S 54TH GRADUATION CEREMONY
WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 2014 (SESSION 13)
Mr Johnny Tan Member of the Singapore Polytechnic Board of Governors,
Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and CEO of Singapore Polytechnic,
Distinguished guests, parents, graduates,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Graduates, here you are today in the top few percent of the world's population with a diploma. And we are all here to celebrate this moment.
It is a Special Day for you, and also for Singapore Polytechnic, which celebrates this year, its 60th anniversary..
And I am proud to be giving the commencement speech for that very important date.
Because today marks an awesome personal accomplishment. Years of your life devoted to education, incredibly important for your future….but as important for what you can now do for the rest of society.
As you are now on the doorstep of the professional world, I would like to share a few thoughts with you. I am not going to enter into deep philosophy. I want to touch on 3 things that have been helpful to me, and that have been guiding my choices in life:
As you know, I have been working in the video games industry nearly since I got my college degree, so let me begin by asking a question to the gamers in the audience…
How many of you already heard your parents say: if you play too much; you will not succeed in school?
I get it's kind of hard to answer this question, especially when your parent is sitting next to you! So let me raise my hand for all of you!
I have heard that phrase countless times when I was a teenager…
Not only my hours spent on the console didn't affect my grades, but they also guided my professional choices.
I LOVED playing video games so naturally, after I graduated…I joined Ubisoft! I haven't left the company in 14 years, I still love my job, and I never get bored.
You made a courageous choice.
You decided to go and study design, or architecture. You decided to follow your heart and your passion.
And you will be rewarded everyday: not only once a year when you get your bonus, but everyday,
when you push the entry door of your studio or agency, and realize that you are doing what you like to do.
You will be rewarded everyday, because your enthusiasm will be shared by your co-workers. You will be among a community of people that have made the same, bold, decision as you; In my 14 years working in this industry, I have always been amazed by the diversity of people working with me: they may come from the arts, banking, start ups, advertising, architecture, farming industry…. We all
share the same passion: creating fun experiences. And usually, I can tell by experience: people in our industry ARE pretty fun. And it's important, right, when you go at work everyday, not to sit next to someone who has turned sour…
Eventually, when you love what you do, you usually are better at it.
It goes for your professional life as it goes for sports. Let me turn to the women in the audience: what happens if you are forced to do swimming, while what you love is Mo thai? Well, it means it will harder for you to become the feminine version of Michael Phelps. I am not saying it's impossible…But you will need to win your heart over before the Olympics…Which requires a lot of energy.
And you may need this energy in order to build something bigger than your career.
What do I mean by that? Well, look at it like that.
Not only were you brave to choose design or architecture as a major..but you were also right, as creative jobs are the future of Singapore.
When I arrived here to set up the studio in 2008, the industry was just at its beginnings. Most of the students didn't know they could make a living out of video games, and there was no specific curriculum to learn how to build a game. And to crown it all: the path to success was said to be Finance..or Business..
So you may ask me: why did you choose Singapore? Are you out of your mind? Answer is: because it has a strong economic and social foundation.
And for that, you guys need to thank… your parents.
Those same parents who prevented you from playing video games were the one who built this nation. And as a foreigner, I must say I am amazed with what they managed to build in just 50 years.
I like to make lists so let me enumerate a few things I find absolutely stunning about this country. As of today, Singapore is:
In just 50 years, your parents managed to fast track Singapore into the 5 top cities to live in.
That's what your parents did and you can be proud. Now it's YOUR turn to contribute and play your part. They created the foundations.
You will be responsible for building the industries of the future..and video games is one of them. But your responsibility doesn't stop here.
You need to teach your parents about these industries.
My parents don't understand video games. They have never heard of Mario or Assassin's Creed. But when I told them recently that the video games industry was 3 times bigger than Hollywood..and 2 times bigger than the sports industry, THAT rang a bell.
Actually, as there are many parents in the room today, I would like to take the opportunity to ask them a question:
How many of you, parents, play games on your mobile or on your tablet?
Given the number of people I see in the MRT playing casual games in Singapore, I can only be but convinced that the best to come for this industry is still ahead!
Eventually, I would like to say that what you learnt at Singapore Polytechnic will not end today. As you go forward, think back to what you experienced and you will find lessons and strength to draw upon for the rest of your life.
You have learnt a ton in class, I am sure.
But don't forget what you have learnt outside of your tutorials.
Nurture the friendships you created here. They will be your closest allies in life and at work. Remember that you also learnt how to throw a great party.
Maybe you also found love at SP?
Now is just the beginning of a new learning journey.
From now on, there will be no teachers to push you. There will be no grades to assess you. There will be no exams to test you.
The appetite for learning will have to come from you.
Do you know what was the 1st thing I did when I graduated? I bought myself a backpack.
And I left for 3 months travelling around Europe.
Travelling is an amazing way to put your beliefs into perspective. It is an easy way to question yourself and the education you received.
For travelling confronts you with alterity, meaning the other.
Questioning others' practices obliges you to look back at how YOU do things. Then maybe you will start thinking that the way YOU do things may not be the most efficient? Maybe this will also prompt you to question who you are and learn more about yourself?
You don't need to go far!
As far as I'm concerned, living and working in Germany opened my eyes on another management culture, very far from the French one! Living and working in Singapore taught me a lot about how to manage multicultural teams…
One thing is for sure.
You will come back home richer.
Not only will you have brought back good ideas, but you will also have accustomed your eyes to alterity.
And you will see that you can find alterity at home. And that will make you EVEN richer.
There are people who do that on a daily basis. Any guess who?
It's not the scientists; it's not the philosophers, not the teachers, neither the businessmen, or the politicians..
It's the young children..
When my daughter was 4 years old, she had a favourite word… This word is WHY.
She was using it all the time: Why are vegetables green? Why shall I say thank you? Why am I a girl?
Why this, why that…
As a parent, I can tell you this was annoying…. Because you know you need to answer something… Sometimes, you are tempted to dismiss a question…as you honestly find it stupid or you think it makes no sense...
Often, you find yourself a bit dumb, because you DO NOT have the answers! These childish questions confront you to your own ignorance…
But isn't THAT the start of knowledge? Always questioning your environment? Or admitting you do not know?
You all have a 4 year old child inside you. Revive it and cultivate it.
Thank you very much.