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Speech by Mr Chia Chee Seng


Members of the Board of Governors
Mr Tan Choon Shian, Principal and Chief Executive Office, Singapore Polytechnic
Deputy Principals and Directors
Distinguished Guests, Parents and Graduands

Thank you for inviting me to address you on your graduation. It’s my pleasure to be here, to grace this wonderful event. Congratulations to all of you on the completion of your course. Today marks an important milestone as you move onto your next phase of life.

I would like to begin my address by sharing with you my personal story. I graduated from the SP in 1975, which was 40 years ago! My first year was spent at the Ayer Rajah campus where I studied Common Engineering.

My subsequent 2 years were spent at the former Prince Edward Campus where I graduated with a Diploma in Electrical Engineering.

I am familiar with this location too, the Dover Road campus.  In the old days, it was called Princess Mary campus. There was a large parade square at this campus back then.  It was here that I had the opportunity to organize countless weekends of marching rehearsals. Our efforts paid off when we were able to form a strong Singapore Poly contingent for the NDP at the Padang in 1973 and 1974.

I spent a good time, actively involved in students Union activities too. Those were the days of students’ activism, radical thinking as well as championing the rights of workers.

I discovered that I had tremendous passion as a student’s leader and went with the flow wherever it brought me. Safe to say, I was interviewed, watched closely by the authorities, but fortunately I was not arrested.

Upon graduation, I went on to serve NS as a Commissioned Officer in the SAF Infantry Battalion.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Being here at my alma mater today has indeed brought back many wonderful memories.

I am grateful to Singapore Poly for the invitation and giving me the opportunity to speak to you today.

What I hope to do this morning is to share my life experiences and in particular my interaction with Poly graduates.

I’d like to share my thoughts about the 3 Cs. The first C is on Choice.

This may sound familiar to you, "I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday." 

You have chosen and graduated with your respective field of studies, most of you in Aeronautical Engineering and some in Mechatronics & Robotics. You have to understand that these courses were not available in our time.

And that this is an important choice that will eventually guide and impact your future life.

I’d advise you to seek a mentor or a counselor if you are unsure of what you want to do in your next step of progression. The choices you make after graduation today will be very different from your parents’ generations as today’s youth have a different aspirations and expectations.

I am reminded of the fact that the majority of the male graduands today will have to serve the nation first. Make full use of your time during NS to gain life skills and develop your maturity. The skills, interactions and bonds you will forge with your peers are likely to serve you well.

For those who are pursuing further studies, there is a wide range of options available in Singapore should you choose to pursue your dreams.

In fact, there will be many important choices that you need to make in your life time.

Some of you may choose to live by complaining. At times, we seem upset with the way things are.

However, I am confident that many of you will choose to act and take positive actions. And these may extend beyond the scope of your jobs, careers and lives.

So choose carefully because the choices you make today will determine what you have and what you will be tomorrow. Set your goals and go forward confidently into the future.

This takes me to the next C: Continuing Education

Learning is life long, for it never stops at any age. The diploma that you have just earned is only the starting point that marks a lifelong journey that awaits you. Continuous learning is not an option; it’s a must. One viable option is to work and study at the same time.

There are many Poly graduates in our Companies that chose this route.

Our Design Manager graduated from SP with merits in 1999. He had his Industrial attachment with the Company, went on to study part time in NTU and graduated with a first class honors in Mechanical Engineering.

Another Manager had a Diploma from SP in 1988 , went on to complete his Advanced Diploma in Manufacturing Technology  and  a Degree in Mechatronics is now the HOD for our Certification and Engineering Departments.

I have a HOD also from SP, had an Advanced Diploma in Industrial Engineering, joined the Company first in QA and am now responsible for our planning, production and logistics.

Another Diploma holder went on to head our manufacturing plant in Suzhou China after completing his degree in Business Administration.
To pursue your passion, you may wish to consider the place and train programme for fresh Poly graduates under the national SkillsFuture initiatives which will provide you with relevant industry skills.  

Continuing education should, however, not develop into a mere paper chase but an acquisition of valuable work skills.  Just as important are the attitudinal and interpersonal skills that you will need to acquire and consistently practice to be successful.

We look out for Poly graduates who have the skills in problem solving, collaborate in teams as well as acting independently and taking responsibility for their actions.

Let me bring you to the final C: Change

We are now witnessing a whole new world with the fast pace of change due to globalization and advancement in technology. So it’s difficult to tell what you’re going to do five, ten or twenty years down the road.

The business environment is now flooded with new business models, some of which are beyond our imaginations.

Traditional business models are no longer the mainstay. The rising popularity of low cost airlines as well as online community websites such as Airbnb and Uber are recent disruptive business models that have become so unrelenting.

New job opportunities have been created by these forces, but at the expense of other jobs being eliminated caused by disruptive technologies.
At the same time, businesses are trying to do more with less human interventions to drive cost down.

Our work can instantly become outdated if we continue doing things in the old way as new skills are require to solve problems in a different way.
In the course of your career, you will need to adapt to different work assignments and changes in the job market.

To do so, you have to constantly re-evaluate your skills and acquire new knowledge to stay abreast of globalization and technological changes.
You have to learn to adapt and manage change in the whole new world and seize new opportunities that come along.

On this note, let me extend once again my heartiest congratulations to you and your family on your success.

I wish you all a bright future and a meaningful life ahead.

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