Speech by Mr Tan Stephen Tjoa

THURSDAY, 16 MAY 2013, 5.30PM (SESSION 3)

Mr Tan Choon Shian
Principal, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Polytechnic

Distinguished Guests

Parents and Graduands

Staff of Singapore Polytechnic

Ladies and Gentlemen,

  1. Good afternoon. It gives me great pleasure to be here today at the 53rd Singapore Polytechnic Graduation Ceremony. I applaud all graduands and award winners of the following disciplines – accountancy, financial informatics and human resources management with psychology. I congratulate each one of you on your achievements, and your families, for the unwavering support they have given you during the course of your studies. As we close the chapter of an important milestone in your lives, the action really begins now.

  2. In case you’re wondering how I have been bestowed with this honour of addressing you – well, 1) I’ve been there before; 2) I’ve been in the talent business for over two decades; and 3) I recently began my tenure as Chairman of SP’s business school advisory board, and I am absolutely thrilled so far to be associated with such a fine institution and the fine people that I have been fortunate to meet – executives, lecturers, students and parents who are passionate about SP and I believe that everyone has a story about how SP has helped shape their lives.

  3. Ladies and gentlemen, you may be heaving a sigh of relief after having put so much time and effort on your academic commitments and sacrifices to bring you to this point…but graduation is hardly the end point. In fact, you are just about to embark on one of the most exciting chapters in your history. For a number of you, this perhaps marks the transition to university, national service, others will embark on their professional qualifications, and the rest might be contemplating their career options or planning their first business. Wherever the road takes you, I assure you that the journey will be nothing less than spectacular.

  4. We live in very exciting albeit confusing times. The world we deal with everyday has become increasingly complex. Even in Singapore, we deal with increasing challenges of globalization, rising costs of living, competition, education, worklife balance and other social issues. Challenges, however, present us with incredibly exciting opportunities. We can all play a huge role in shaping the future of Singapore at large.

  5. In the past, things were generally a lot simpler. You can buy a bowl of noodles for forty cents at the school tuckshop, smoking was allowed in cinemas and we had only four channels on TV (including Malaysian channels) and we did a lot more manual tasks and were forced to interact with people face to face.

  6. One of the most apparent differences is technology. We didn’t have smses or instant messaging aps to secure a date. Those days, we had to call LAN lines and we had to face the interrogation of parents when we called their daughters. Life was simple but tough at the same time. But it made us work for everything we wanted. Nothing was instant so we could not take anything for granted. Mind you, I am not that old but I am just making a comparative illustration of how technology, for instance, has transformed our lives.

  7. When I first started work in the late 80s, I was in the “pager” era, when pagers were used for every purpose and when first generation handphones was the size of your typical pencil box. Even then, many people resisted that technology because they feared being too connected. Look at us now, our lives revolve around this thing (displaying a smartphone) – lose this and we lose everything; we become totally handicapped because we rely on this to get by everyday almost 100%.

  8. We are no longer talking about the ease of connecting, but we’ve reached a point of absolute hyper-connectivity, and we’ve come to the realization that virtual reality might actually be the only reality your generation and proceeding generations will ever know. I am sure grads from financial informatics are well aware of the rise of Generation C (Gen-C for short) who work, live, breathe and play in the virtual space. By 2020, it estimated that Gen-C will make up approximately two-fifths or more of the population in the developed and developing world.

  9. A great example of the magnitude of technological penetration is the Next Generation Nationwide Broadband Network (Next Gen NBN) - an all-fibre, ultra-high-speed broadband network (at the speed of light as I understand it), offering a second-to-none pervasive connectivity around Singapore. No wonder Singapore is well positioned as a financial, accounting and innovation hub, not only in the region but the entire world.

  10. In this super hyper-connected world, we do risk losing something very important. Our ability to connect with fellow human beings, at home, at play and in the office. I am not talking about Facebook, Twitter or Linked-In.

  11. Many of you may have seen the Starhub advertisement at movie theatres on how we should never forget the time we should be connecting with the “real bosses” – our family members.

  12. As you move ahead to fulfill your dreams and aspirations, never forget the essence of what it is to be a human being. When we succeed, we do so to ensure that our loved ones, the people we work with and the communities we serve are beneficiaries of that success.

  13. You should never mistake success with growing affluence, power, money or influence. These are outcomes of success. With success comes responsibility too – responsibility over the different communities of people who rely on your leadership, good judgment, integrity, mentorship, respect, compassion and friendship.

  14. Instead, focus on the value proposition you will be making to yourself, your loved ones, your colleagues and society at large. We need to continue to add value to the lives we touch everyday as professionals, as volunteers, and as friends to others. Never underestimate your ability to change the world for the better. Many of you have been involved on many community projects not only to spread the good name of SP and Singapore to the world, but also to ensure that people’s lives are positively changed as a result of your good work.

  15. A famous saint, St Francis of Assisi once said: “Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”.

  16. Your potential is truly limitless. It is bound only by the barriers you place upon yourselves. Otherwise, your potential can be exploited to the fullest by being true to yourself, living life with passion and integrity.

  17. Finally, you must never forget to have fun! Enjoy the things which give you fulfillment – music, dance, drama, travel, exercise, prayer and anything which refreshes your body and nourishes your soul. Remember that it is the soul is which fuels your emotions and actions, and it will help you to stay happy.

  18. In our daily grind, we often forget the simple things in life which makes us happy. A positive state of mind will not only make many good things happen, it also brings happiness to others, and it helps reduce stress and is proven to prevent chronic diseases from happening. A positive state of mind is always a win-win situation.

  19. You are all destined for great things, ladies and gentlemen. There is no doubt about that.

  20. You have accomplished a huge milestone now and I congratulate each and everyone of you on successfully completing your studies at this fine institution, all I can say now is the best is really yet to come. Thank you and I wish you the very best in all your endeavours.
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