Graduation Address

DANILO M. SAMPAGA, LLB.

Good afternoon, graduates, parents, distinguished guest, friends ² ladies and gentlemen....
Thank you for inviting me to address you on this occasion. You will have many birthdays, many dinner parties, many 14TH of February·s. But you will have only one university graduation³a rich event of a lifetime. Many of your friends and family members and I, as well as you, hold this one thing in common³an appreciation for knowledge and how it can enrich our lives. I congratulate you for your efforts, your families for their sacrifices, and your professors for their dedication to excellence. That·s the shiny side. The dim side³just in case any of you have already forgotten³is the No-Doz, the coffee, the retyping and reprinting of the reports always due the day before yesterday. But whether you remember the dim side or the shiny side of your college years, only your own efforts will brighten or tarnish the memory from now on. University lectures behind you; you will be the authors and speakers of the future. I believe strongly that each generation·s achievements can overshadow the last. Many of you are anxious to say this academic party·s over and to proceed to the next one³to be held in America. But stop.... Reflect.... Before you break down the door to get to that first job, take this time to strategize, to plan exactly where you want to go and how you·ll get there. I invite you to stop and think about the changes that you should consider before you knock on the first office door and apply for that first job. Confucius admonished us, ´Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.µ Great advice. But these are days of so many choices that the selection is difficult. Every graduating class ´wakes upµ³pun intended³to a new world every spring. These changes³or trends³will affect what you look for and what you accept in a job and career. A primary phenomenon in the Philippine is our grappling with a global economy. The price of cabbage in Kansas affects Singapore housewives. The price of microchips in Japan affects workers in Muleshoe, Texas. For years, we saw ´Made in Japanµ on too many labels. Those labels now bearing ´Made in the USAµ carry more respect than they once did. Because of the intense competition, we have had to become more concerned with our quality and our cost. In today·s marketplace, innovative ideas, scientific discoveries and technology, management techniques, and investment money move quickly from one country to the next. Competition is keen. It demands to be reckoned with. The second trend in the Philippine is the information explosion. When we transfer data from a vendor·s database to ours, the information is old before the last printout rolls off the printer. Just to stay up on the job³to stay informed³you will find yourself inundated with professional journals, general-interest news magazines, specialized newsletters, stacks of correspondence, and brochures on new products and services that will make you more efficient. You will spend

hours of your day reading, interpreting, analyzing, responding to, and digesting all that information. You will be tempted to hide from the mail carrier, but you·ll learn that what he or she brings to your desk or doorstep is vital to your job. You have to keep up. A third trend in the Philippine is change. Universal, never-ending, complex change. We have some hi-tech crystal balls and resident astrologers. We call them computers and staff analysts. They crunch mundane statistics, trends and predictions of what we need to be doing in the immediate and long-term future. With these hi-tech crystal balls, these resident astrologers can predict³ with a great deal of certainty³that things will continue to change. What that means to you is that you must continue to educate yourself. For the dedicated, high-achieving individual, school will never be out. You will always be chasing knowledge. In my own corporation, our managers attend formal training at least (number) days each year. Many attend more often. Why? Because learning is their entryway to achievement and their handle on change. Our jobs change weekly, monthly. With mergers and acquisitions, we learn one job only to be handed another. That·s not easy. But there is a method to dealing with it, according to one chief executive officer of a large company. He had just been voted out of his job by his board of directors. So before he cleared out his desk and packed his briefcase, he prepared three large envelopes for his successor: ´Just in case you run into the same kind of problems I·ve had, open these one at a time.µ The new, young CEO appreciatively took them. But he felt confident he·d have no need of them because he·d graduated from a university such as yours³fully prepared for any situation. However, he stuffed them in his file cabinet, just in case. About a year later, things did indeed get tough. The board didn·t like the changes this new CEO had made, didn·t like the budget allocations, didn·t like the way the balance sheet looked. So the young man pulled the first envelope from the files and opened it. In big bold letters, it said simply: ´Blame Marketing.µ So he did, and things got much better. The bottom line saw black again.... Sales increased.... Profits improved.... Things were good for about another two years. Then once again, trouble developed. His superiors started asking questions he couldn·t answer and raising issues he didn·t want to face. So once again, he pulled open the file and reached for the second envelope. In big bold letters, it said: ´Blame economic conditions.µ So he did. Business once again turned around. The price of his stock went up. He felt creative and capable once again. But another couple of years went by, and he found himself in agony of the annual report. So the day before his annual stockholders meeting, he decided to open the third envelope. He found these words: ´Prepare three envelopes for your successor.µ As I said, working in an environment at three or four different jobs in a company that tries to hit a moving target can be challenging. You may be leaving here with an accounting degree and ten years from now you·ll be selling insurance or working on a space-shuttle design. Your academic education may end with tossing your caps into the air, but your career education is just beginning. To give you a personal example: My father had a (type) degree, and he worked for (number) years at one company where he managed engineering project after project. And I might add, with success. But success to him and his bosses meant the assignment of another important engineering project. And another.

In my case, I have two degrees, but I·ve held a job as a surveyor, and as a contractor. Now, I·m in charge of seeing that [present responsibilities] happens. You can expect the same, only more so. Several careers in your lifetime. In other words, you will need to learn to think like a generalist and acquire all the skills that entails. You will need to perfect your skills in writing, speaking, interpersonal relationships, time management, planning, budgeting, project management. Let me say it this way: Learning is an attitude and a process, not a final destination. The people we now hire are not those with certain degrees but those with a desire to succeed, to achieve. To be ordinary is easy; excellence requires commitment. A fourth trend is that corporations are really³really³embracing the idea that people matter. We·re tossing out the bureaucratic procedures and policies that once governed people when management wanted them for their backs³their physical labor. Businesses have rediscovered that people have much to contribute with their minds and their spirit. Decisions are no longer made from above with no input from below. Management wants a workforce that is determined to think creatively and to improve the quality of the products produced and the services provided. In return for people·s creativity on the job, corporate America is taking on more of the responsibility to see that they provide well for their employees. They want them to raise happy, well-adjusted children. They want them to take care of their health. They want them to appreciate the arts. They want them to reunite their families and put down roots in the community. They want them to be a part of establishing family, community, and work traditions. It·s been a good change³all for the well-being of the employee. A fifth change in the Philippine is the insistence on an increase in productivity³ your productivity individually. You put in long hours at this university. But don·t think that will end when you get a ´realµ job. The 40-hour work week is gone. Studies tell us that the average worker now spends 50-60 hours on the job. Because of all the trends I mentioned earlier³a global economy and increased competition to produce higher quality and a lower cost³management ranks are thinner. We·re doing more with less. We·re turning out more work with fewer workers. Your career success will depend on your commitment, investment of time, and energy to achieve. Your attitude will need to be that you get up every morning and ask yourself, ´Can I do my job quicker, cheaper, better?µ You will be rewarded accordingly. Yes, you are putting on a business suit and buying a briefcase in the midst of profound changes. These changes will affect the way we live, love, and work for years to come. We have a global economy. Information explodes around us. Change in the world and in your chosen career is inevitable; you will need to continue your life-long education. Businesses are focusing on people³their creativity, their unique ideas, and their personal well-being. Competition demands increased productivity from everyone. So what does all this mean specifically?

Well, it means that when you come to interview with my company and join hands to work with us, we want an open mind. We want you to listen to our problems, to hear our experiences, and to propose new insights. We want you to be disciplined. Long hours are the rule, not the exception. We want you to be dedicated. Caring about quality and doing a good job is as old as the Bible. ´Whatsoever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.µ No one knows what the future holds for you in the face of these changes. That·s good³a blessing from the good Lord. But one thing you do know, one thing you will always have a choice about. And that one choice is attitude. Only you can decide to be flexible, happy, healthy, productive, and successful in life. We welcome you to corporate America. We·re ready to give you a chance to show what you can do. We·ll give you opportunities to succeed and to fail. We hope you·ll take both. For in failing, you and we learn. We want your ideas on new products and services. We want your idealism. We want your questions and challenges about things that are not working well now. We want your energy, your enthusiasm, your drive. In short, welcome to the real world. As you travel, I wish you good health, people to love, time to enjoy.

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