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Speech by Dr Richard Kwok At SIM University Convocation Ceremony 2010

Speech By Dr Richard Kwok, Executive Vice President And Chief Technology Officer Of ST Kinetics Limited At The SIM University Convocation Ceremony, 3.00pm On 6 October 2010 At SIM University


Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor, UniSIM;
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, UniSIM;
Distinguished guests, parents, graduates, fellow colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, a very good afternoon.

  1. It is my pleasure to be here today to address the 2010 Graduands, of the School of Science and Technology and the School of Arts and Social Sciences

  1. Congratulations to all of you on the successful completion of your study. This is an important milestone in your life, one you have achieved through years of hard work in the school. Rightly so, it is a time to celebrate with your family, teachers and friends.

  1. This convocation is a very significant event, it marks UniSIM’s 5th Anniversary and its largest cohort of graduands so far, I was told a total of 1482 students graduating this year.

  1. SIM University is a unique university as it gives high quality education for working adults. Here you interact with fellow working adults and upgrade qualification, knowledge and skills that are very much needed in today’s dynamic and ever-changing world to stay competitive.

  1. Your graduation marks the beginning of a new chapter in your life. Certainly, the most exciting challenge must be the building up of your career with the degree you obtained.

  1. I am like all of you 32 years ago, a fresh and also a Part time graduate looking forward to apply what I learn to the society. All of you are graduating at a time when the Singapore’s economy growth is expected to grow between 13 to 15 per cent this year.

  1. More good news. There is an increasing motivation around the world in the areas of Research & Development and Innovation. On a Saturday, Straits Times newspaper on 18th September 2010, our Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, mentioned that the Government is setting aside more money to fund deserving research and innovation projects over the next five years.

  1. $16 bn and yes, a total of $16 billion will be used for innovation and Science and Technology over the next 5 years.

  1. Now back to my story again. Most of you now would take 3 to 4 years to complete your degree course but 32 years ago, I took 5 years for a diploma. This is because I was enrolled on a part-time diploma course and working full-time in the day to support my family.

  1. After that I spent another 12 years taking part-time courses. I have earned my doctorate degree in 1999 while holding a fulltime job. My commitment and my desire for learning also earn me a Lifelong Learner Award in 2006. So there is nothing to lose when you spend more time learning and enjoying. You might even win awards. Learning and application of knowledge helps me to develop within my organization where I have been working for the last years. I moved up from an engineering assistant to an Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer 5 years ago. Hence, learning is indeed a very rewarding journey.

  1. So, my dear graduates, learning does not come to a standstill with the degree that you will have your hand today. Rather, it is the beginning of your learning journey; a life-long quest for knowledge. It can be acquiring formal education qualifications or informal learning such as attending relevant short courses and reading trade journals.

  1. As you reflect back on the years that you have spent in SIM University, all of you should be confident about facing the challenges ahead. You have gone through 3 to 4 years of rigorous curriculum by your faculty. I believe that all of you have picked up important soft skills required to succeed in the new economy. These valuable soft skills, such as teamwork, which you use on your group projects, presenting and communication skill in your oral presentation and written reports, and discipline and hard work as you are studying and working at the same time that makes a lot of difference. Besides all these, I hope that you have also built up a strong friendship among teachers, administrators, classmates and your campus mates.

  1. In the real world, in the order of importance, you need to know “who”, “where” and then how. To be successful you need to know who that is to build up your social network, you need to know where, that is to find collaboration, information, data and so on. It is of course also important to know how to do your work and get it done effectively.

  1. To all of you graduates, challenges do not stop even though the examination is over. There is a fast pace of change. The speed at which technology changes and how quickly new technologies become obsolete is astonishing. There is hence a constant need to update your knowledge.

  1. Over my years in the workforce, it is not uncommon that I encountered many experienced workers, including professionals, who spend years doing something that they simply do not enjoy.

  1. This is a shame, and it is very important to look for a job that you are passionate about. If you love what you are doing, you will automatically want to improve your skills and knowledge constantly. So it is important to spend some time to reflect and do some soul searching and identify your areas of interest. Know what you like and what you want to be.

  1. Once you found the job you like and wanted to manage your career well, you must be prepared to continuously learn and upgrade your skills and knowledge and to deliver your best. The knowledge you acquired, sad to say, is just the starting point. You acquire expert, in-depth knowledge and insights only when you apply knowledge to deal with real life technical problems and work issues. Ultimately, where you go in your career will depend to a large extent the professional credibility and standing you have established in the workplace and in the industry.

  1. And getting a promotion also requires diligence, relevant knowledge and skills, a firm understanding of the business and strategic positioning of oneself. You also need to 3 things RIGHT.

  1. One, think of how to add value. What else can you do to add depth and breadth to your current role and ask if you can you take on greater responsibilities? Can you volunteer for a project that no one else has the courage to take up?

  1. Two, create a position for yourself. Think about the role that you want to grow into. At your next appraisal, ask your boss what it would take for you to move up to that position; after which, work hard to mould yourself to fill that role, and last but not the least, be the expert whom others can turn to for help. Equip yourself with industrial knowledge and a strong understanding of the field that you are in. Build your credibility as the person whom your co-workers and bosses can go to for expert knowledge and insights.

  1. Finally, let me congratulate all of you, and your family, for your achievement today.

  1. May I wish you the best in the pursuit of your dreams, and that in the process you will build a better future for yourself and those around you.

  1. Thank you.

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