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Speech by Mr Goh Theng Kiat


Good Afternoon
Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal, Singapore Polytechnic
Distinguished Guests
Parents and Graduands
Faculty and Staff of Singapore Polytechnic
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting me to this graduation ceremony.  I am very happy to be here today and to be a part of such an important occasion in your life.  It is indeed an honour and I feel flattered to be able to say a few words to this promising class of Business Administration graduands and Financial Informatics graduands. 

Singapore has built herself to be a significant hub in the global financial market.  Coupled with Singapore’s position as an attractive location for multi-national companies to establish a base for their regional businesses in South East Asia and for some, wider Asia region, Business Administration graduands will find themselves in an ideal position to contribute to Singapore as we strives to grow our economy and value of our people. 

We are also in interesting times as we witness fast growth in technology and its influences on information, risk, services, products and business in the financial world.  As the financial industry embeds itself in risk management and compliance post 2008 financial crisis, and arms itself to compete in analytics and consumer engagement, Financial Informatics graduands will find the time ripe to be part of the fastest growing areas in the financial sector.

When I received the call from your faculty member about this graduation speech, I thought hard what the right messages for young people stepping into their next stage of life would be.  This gives me a good reason to pause and reflect on my past 20 years of working life.  There are 3 themes which seem to be regularly recurring and I want to take this opportunity to share them with you.

Theme 1 - Be Agile
After I graduated with a Bachelor degree in Electrical Engineering, I took the path of marketing.  My career took me into diverse products, from shampoos, diapers, tobacco products internet solutions to household paints. Quite a switch you must admit from radio frequency testing to diaper testing with babies.  My job scope has also evolved from marketing to general management and innovation in local, regional and global roles.  And now I work for OCBC Bank.  Agility and being adaptable has been instrumental in building my career.  The world is changing at a fascinating speed.  What is strong today could fade quickly with a blink of an eye.  The lines between industries are thinning.  Apple has gone from a computer company to a music distribution company, a phone company and now a watch company.  Alibaba has moved from a B2B trading platform to provide financial services to consumers.  What used to be corporations which are believed to be too big to fall are acquired by companies which might not have existed 10 years ago.  Some of the hot jobs in the market now did not exist 10 years ago. Just to name a few - Data Scientist. Big Data Architect, Digital Marketing Specialist, Customer Experience Designer, App Developer, and one which is threatening my job, Chief Marketing Technologist.  Who would have heard of these jobs 10 years ago?  They are however the hottest jobs in demand now.  The key to navigate through this ever changing environment is Agility. 

Theme 2 - Learn from every experience
As I look back at my 20 years of working experience, I am amazed at how experiences connected.  I am amazed at how life finds a way to join the dots and works its way forward.  I gained some experience in Indonesian businesses, pitching jobs in Jakarta for the internet start-up I worked for.  These experiences and contacts made proved to be valuable when I was assigned regional business development work for a tobacco company a few years after. I leverage experiences in Formula 1 sponsorship to hospitality program in the paints company and Premier Banking customer program in bank marketing.  It also connects in my personal life.  My wife used to work for a Taiwan company and when I was asked to relocate to Taiwan for a job assignment a few years after that, that decision to move was a breeze.  Life will find a way to connect the dots for you. What is important is for you to learn from every experience.   Don’t waste any of your experiences.  Learn from everyone. Learn from every situation. Somehow you will find these experiences useful in the future.  Start with your experiences in the last 3 years in Singapore Polytechnic.  As you embark in the next phase in life, do not forget what you have gone through, I am not just referring to the subjects you have learnt, I am referring to the fun you had, the disappointment you have gone through, the friendship you have made and the kindness you have received.  These could be invaluable to you at some stage in the future. 

Theme 3 - Leaving a legacy
There is a common myth that we need to wait till we are old and wise to start making a difference and in leaving a legacy.  It is never too early to make a mark in someone’s life or something within your environment. It is never too early to leave a legacy.  Start small and start with people around you.  Start making a difference in a person’s life - a friend, a younger family member, a stranger.  Start making the place around you a better place.  Life needs to be lived with a purpose and leaving a mark in another person’s life is a great purpose to live a life.

I congratulate all of you for completing these 3 years of learning in Singapore Polytechnic and making your life journey to here and now.  Today marks an important milestone and signifies the start of the next stage in life for many of you.  As you step into the next stage of your life today, I wish you all well as you face the challenges of life and steer your life journey in the most meaningful way

With that, I end with a patriotic note on SG50.  You are the graduating class in a glorious year as the nation celebrates 50 years of nation building.  Do be agile, do learn from every experience coming your way and start leaving a legacy marking your mark in someone’s life or somewhere on this planet.   In 50 years’ time, where will you be when it is SG100, what mark will you have left by SG100?  I may not be around to witness SG100 but let your mark fill this world with wonder and might.

Thank you and I wish you all the best!

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