Delivered May 19, 2016
Chancellor, President, Madame Vice President, distinguished members of the faculty, distinguished members of the 2016 graduating class. Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.
I’m extremely honoured to be associated with King’s and I hope this is the beginning of a lifetime love affair and a wonderful connection with this wonderful country, province, and city. As we congratulate the 2016 graduating class, I want to echo what President Cooper said in his opening remarks that today really is a day for the family. I know all of you here have supported and made sacrifices in order to allow your children to achieve their full potential at King’s and it is you who really deserve a very, very sincere congratulation. I know many of you have been busy in your work and sometimes when your parents or grandparents call upon you, you’re probably too busy on your iPad or mobile phone, and my daughter always tells me that she has no time and I hope that today marks a lifetime journey of payback. I would urge you all to take your parents and grandparents out to dinner, or buy them a present. But, I have made this mistake myself, when I passed the qualifying exam to become a solicitor in England, I told my mum that she could buy any present that she wanted. She went out to buy a mink coat and it cost me the whole first year of my salary.
Ladies and gentlemen, seriously, we are living in an ever more complex world. For you who graduate today, in the immediate following years, you will see a world with growing fragility in the financial markets, in a world where the international institutions created after World War Two have been unable to meet the challenges and the needs of the 21st century. In a world where the politics, particularly international politics and local politics, have been paralyzed and polarized. This is not to mention the challenge of infectious disease, the internet of things and also technological singularity which means that one day before too long, the fusion of robotic technology and artificial intelligence and stem cell research will probably override the total standard of human intelligence. If we can work hard, work smart, to make sure that robots are there to help us, not become one of us, and thereafter ruling us, we could make a very different society. Probably during your active career, because most futurists think that technological singularity will begin to arrive by 2040. So, we have a real challenge ahead of us.
Today, I want to offer you three suggestions as we embark on this journey of ever more competitiveness. Today society is global, competition is one click away, and the challenges of youth unemployment, refugee crises around you will make your journey a lot more challenging than when I came to the job market. So, being good is not good enough, you have to be better than good. But how do you do that, you know, when you reach a level which you have: you have a degree at a wonderful university, you’re smart, you’re intelligent, you’re hardworking? How can you be better than good? Now, that depends on our own individual packaging and differentiation. I would start with the wonderful advantage you have here in Canada. Canada is part of the Atlantic, as well as it is part of the Pacific, which gives you a wonderful matrix to start with, also you are born with multilingual skills and being based in Halifax and having your education at King’s, you are instilled with a certain culture and a set of values which are age proven. So, Canada, Atlantic, Pacific, use of one’s languages will be all that you already have as part of a unique packaging that is with you today. Then I would suggest, three ‘E’s, the first ‘E’ is engagement, many of you are already involved in youth net, many of you are already involved in some community service. I would urge you to do more. Whether it’s local, national or international, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is to be engaged, to do good is good business. Employers look for graduates who are dynamic, who are passionate about their work, intelligent, but who are concerned and responsible about their local, national and international communities. So whatever it is, get engaged, don’t just be a good graduate, you have to be more than that.
The second ‘E’ that I would suggest is “enlightenment”. Most, if not all of you will be engaged in global business. You will be facing different cultures, different levels of social and economic developments. The same word in Canada, even when spoken in English, could mean something different in another part of the world. So, being enlightened is that we are willing to hear your counterpart speak without necessarily your own agenda. Being enlightened means that you are able to say ‘there are ten ways to ride to Rome’ and I have to choose the best that is most appropriate for me. There is no one set of rules to do things, actually indeed there is more than one way of saying the same thing, sometimes without thinking we probably use the less advantageous formula. So, enlightened being fair minded, being open would be something that would differentiate you from other peers.
And thirdly, and probably more importantly is Ethics. Ethics is something you understand through your education at King’s. But, in the world of greed, in the world where the gap between the ‘have’ and ‘have-nots’ has been a lot more problematic today and will continue to be a challenge. Having the values instilled in you, at home by your parents, instilled in you at King’s: uphold these values, uphold the responsibility to your family to your society, and also to your country. These are things that when you are busy, we forget. I probably belong to the ‘old school’, but we feel that values, going back to basics, ethics where there is family, professional, personal: these are something which are really the most precious asset and indeed advantage as you set out in your career. So, I hope the three ‘E’s will resonate with many of you.
Let’s work hard to make this world a more peaceful one. Let’s work hard to make this world a more harmonious one. Let’s work hard to make this world a more sustainable one. Distinguished members of the 2016 graduating class, live everyday with hope, with faith, with kindness. I wish you well in your life journey ahead. Thank you very much.