Mr Soh Wai Wah,
Principal & Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Polytechnic
Parents and Graduands,
Staff of Singapore Polytechnic,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a wonderful privilege for me to be in this ceremony with you today - to witness an important event of our graduates here at Singapore Polytechnic. A very precious milestone of yours I bet. Congratulations!
This is also a very momentous occasion for me – I graduated here in SP almost 20 years ago! I must have been such an unmotivated student then because I struggled to even recall the title of my diploma while drafting this speech - something along the lines of Electronics, that’s all I could remember. I can however remember the caroms played between lectures and when I decided to skip classes, those fond memories of football and basketball games I had with those that led me astray! Not that I’m encouraging this behaviour, but I mentioned this to give hope to those who didn’t do as well in their diplomas (I fared badly) – that you still have a bright future, if learning continues.
I chose Electronics because my advisors then said it’s a safe path and there would be market demands. I soon learnt that it is more important to do what you are good at because often that is also what you like. This combination should bring about success. And success brings about greater motivation to do even better. Not necessary monetary success although in many cases that is a by-product. Even if you don’t become a millionaire, you will acquire happiness – I presume that is what most, if not all of us, is after! At some point you should work towards giving back because that brings about greater levels of happiness - happy > happier > happiest.
Let me elaborate. I currently work at DSO, Singapore’s largest research and development organisation. There are 8 technical divisions developing technological solutions to enhance SAF’s capabilities, and I belong to the Defence Medical & Environmental Research Institute or DMERI for short. My current job requires me to harness research and technology to enhance soldiers’ performance and safety (will flash a slide here to summarise my work with a brief elaboration).
Rewinding back to some 15 years ago, it was an usual Sunday afternoon walk in the park (walking in the park was a common routine I had with my wife in the UK) that I shared my affection on a module called exercise physiology and my positive memories on several activities I did in the military as a full time national serviceman (commonly known as NSF). If not for the regimentation of which wasn’t to my liking, I would have considered a military career. She asked if there was a job title for military physiologist. I stopped that walk immediately and went home to search for it online. I could only find one opportunity in Singapore. The rest is history. So don’t just go for market demands.
The mission of MINDEF and the Singapore Armed Forces is to enhance Singapore's peace and security through deterrence and diplomacy, and should these fail, to secure a swift and decisive victory over the aggressor. I am an exercise physiologist. I seek to contribute mainly to two parts in this mandate – 1. deterrence and 2. the ability to defend if we are ever called upon! This is my belief and the motivation that keeps me and my colleagues going in our daily work. I love my job.
On giving back - within your capacity and means, seek to positively impact others around you. You actually gain more this way. The giver is happier than the receiver. To this end, I “gain” from several other platforms outside my routine work. May it be serving an Adjunct Associate Professor at an university where I can interact with the students and that keeps me energetic, being as an member on several boards so I can learn through robust debates and strategic thinking from established professionals and being a mentor to aspiring students who simply want to become successful in their professional endeavours, I have gain much (will flash a slide here to depict SP internships and mentorships with DSO).
So continue to believe in your dreams. Like it so much that you want to be the best in the business. It may be something related to your diploma, it may not. Doesn’t matter. Work towards becoming a cheerful giver for that is most satisfying. Never compromise your health and devote enough time with your loved ones throughout this pursuit. This is good success.
Congratulations once again and I wish each of you the very best in your exciting journey ahead.