Session 11 Speech
Mr Jack Goh
Managing Director
SICK Product Center Asia Pte Ltd

Good Afternoon, Mr Soh Wai Wah, Principal & CEO Singapore Polytechnic,

Mr Lim Peng Hun, Deputy Principal(ACAD),

Dr. Chong Chee Wei, Director of School of MAE,

Distinguished Guests, Parents, Friends, and you, Graduates

Warmest congratulation to you graduates for surviving the 3 years of hard work and earned today a widely recognized Diploma in Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering. Looking back, you can savour the sweet success in overcoming obstacles blocking your ways and achieving your goal of completing this course. You can be very proud of what you have achieved today.

What’s next? Most of man would go for NS, some of you to university, yet others may get right to work, or even take a year or more off to decide what you want to do. Whatever your plan, you would likely find that leaving poly after 3 years of solid studying can be a brutal transition as most of you do not know what the world has in store for you.

Yet, I am confident that you can succeed. Why? Because of the knowledge and skill you have learnt here in SP. I am sure you deeply appreciated the hard work and effort of your lecturers who tirelessly and patiently teach and coach you though out this 3 years.

Apart from academic knowledge in technologies, you have also learnt the skill of “How to learn”. This ability to learn will help you to pick up new skill as you start to work. In fact, this journey of learning should continue as long as we live and this makes life rewarding and meaningful.

In today’s fast-pace environment, we need also to learn another skill set - that is “How to unlearn”. Why? Technologies are evolving very quickly, often disrupting what we are taught and used to.

As an example, in my younger days, we were used to Cassette Player, Walkman and then MP 3 player, which we were very proud to own one then. Now it is all combined into your mobile phone and all the old tape technology would soon be forgotten. So we had to “unlearned” the old technology, not be constrained by them and to “re-learned” new technology.

What do we see in the industry evolution today? Yes, robots are quickly taking over many of our manual jobs. With Industry 4.0, big data and cloud information, intelligent & Flexible automation will soon change forever how we work and live. This means that we constantly need to “unlearned” and “re-learned” to keep pace with technology evolution. It is therefore important to take advantage of the life-long learning initiatives from our Government and continue to enjoy “learning”, “unlearning” and “re-learning”.

Now that you have graduated, some of you would have gotten rid of your text books and I think this is fine because you would likely not refer to them when you start to work in future. And soon much of what is in your textbooks would be forgotten.

I graduated 30 years ago from SP and I can tell you that I have totally forgotten the many subjects I had learnt then. But there is something which I never forgot after 30 years nor will ever do so. In fact till today I can vividly recall them with fondness. These are things learned and stored not in my mind but in my heart and it has helped me to do well. Do you know what are they?

It is what we are at heart - our character or personality 30 years ago when I was in SP, I was depressed with some personal problem with my girlfriend, and that affected my mood and ability to learn. I remember vividly a lecturer, Mr Chan, who noticed the change and kindly spoke to me on “need to remain positive and resilient to resolve my problem”. Though it was a brief talk, it taught me a very important lesson - never let any issue discourage and cause me to lose energy and focus. Since then I have learnt to take a positive approach and this is helpful as I faced problem at different stages of my life.

Think back to what personal qualities that you learned during these 3 years. I am sure there are some which are edged in your heart and these are attributes which defined who you are and that would help you face new challenges successfully in future.

Example, I am sure you had encountered failure during your course of study – failed a module and had to retake the paper. Often our initial reaction is discouragement and fear, but then you picked yourself up and focus all your energy on studying and maybe got help from your friends with things you do not understand. Then you managed to pass the paper. I am sure you would soon forget about the test questions but you never forget the help from your friends, the value of hard work, the importance of resilience and persistence in solving problem.

As you savour the academic success you have achieved, please remember and embrace the qualities & attributes you have acquired during these times. Other examples are value of friendship, team work and cooperation, skill that help you to survive in any situation in future.

I am sure you have also learnt how to study smartly, that is not just memorizing, but understanding the subjects and how to apply the principles to different situations. Similarly, working hard is important but more advantageous to work smart. Not that you flatter your bosses, but that you do your work with understanding and use your intelligence to solve problems and create innovative solution.

Finally, I warmly congratulate you again for your success and I wish you many more successes in the future as you continue your learning journey in developing both your IQ and EQ to enjoy a good quality of life.

Thank you.