Convocation Speech, Northumbria University, 22 May 2010 by Isman Tanuri


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Convocation Speech by Northumbria University's Student Representative at Marketing Institute of Singapore's 43rd Graduation Ceremony. 22 May 2010

Written and delivered by: Isman Tanuri

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Convocation Speech, Northumbria University, 22 May 2010 by Isman Tanuri

  1. 1. 1 Convocation Speech by Northumbria University's Student Representative Written and delivered by: Isman Tanuri Marketing Institute of Singapore's 43rd Graduation Ceremony 22 May 2010 Mr. Loh Kwong Cheng, President of Marketing Institute of Singapore Executive Council, Mr. Mark Howard, Director of the British Council Singapore, the noble Lord Stevens of Kirkwhelpington, Chancellor of Northumbria University, Dean & Associate Deans from Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University, parents and graduates, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. My Fellow Graduates, Today we joyously celebrate a key milestone in our lives in the fine company of friends, family, peers, honoured guests and staff of Marketing Institute of Singapore (MIS). I congratulate you on your accomplishments and on concluding what was a part of your life's academic journey. I hope your education at MIS will serve you well in your professional and personal endeavours. I was invited to share my story with you today, so please do lend me a moment of your time to recap my learning journey with MIS and Northumbria University. My journey started back in March 2007. In the three years since, I am really glad to report that my life has been transformed in the pursuit of knowledge and formal education. (My Story) Let me be honest with you: I was and still am a polytechnic dropout. Fourteen years ago, I broke my parents' hearts when, at the end of my 2nd year, I decided not to continue with my film studies at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. I realised I was just not interested in making movies as much as I love watching them. I am really glad my parents are here today to witness a much joyous occasion. The next 10 years of my life from that point on was pretty much an adventure in growing up and being carefree. I was in the entertainment industry and I had career as a stage lighting
  2. 2. 2 specialist. I was also running a small music business with my girlfriend then, now wife and inspiration. That was quite possibly the beginning of my interest in business and marketing. Life was good then but I felt I could do better. In late 2006, I took the plunge. I enrolled in MIS' Diploma in Sales & Marketing program and never looked back. And thus began my love affair with knowledge and learning. That single decision back in late 2006 has completely changed my life. Six months after I started school in MIS, I was hired by Oracle Corporation, currently the biggest enterprise software company in the world. And two months ago, I started a new role at Hogg Robinson Group, a multinational corporation from the UK. This poly dropout is now serving as HRG Singapore's senior executive responsible for its marketing communications' strategy and initiatives. Quite interestingly too, I have not officially graduated yet, until today. Also of important significance, that one decision in late 2006 has also brought me to speak in front of you today. (Making a Difference to Your Life) There are many life's lessons from my own experiences that I would like to share with you. Firstly, it is never too late to pursue your dreams or ambitions, and all you need is the right attitude. For instance, the classmates I most admired were the ones with family responsibilities, especially those with young children. Despite having to juggle parental duties with the demands of school, they had the belief and the sheer will to succeed, knowing that their success will be directly responsible for the future well-being of their family. That is in fact another of life's great lessons: having the focus and forward planning in place to achieve your future goals. When I started the MIS Diploma program, truth be told, I was already dreaming of today, graduating from Northumbria's Bachelors program. In fact, I had jokingly shared with my fellow diploma graduates that last year's Graduation Ceremony was a full-dress rehearsal for today's event! That aside, just like the companies and businesses that you, my fellow graduates, will be managing someday, there must be a clear vision and mission for the journey ahead, so that you know where and what you are aiming for.
  3. 3. 3 But, remember, do not just aim but aim very high. (Be Remarkable) Seth Godin, one of the best marketing thinkers of this generation, says: 'Be a Purple Cow'. In other words, Seth is saying 'Be Remarkable'. Stand out from the crowd like an iPad or a rare Ferrari. In this world of abundance, how do you stand apart from the rest? How do you stay ahead of the competition? The answer: Only by being remarkable. But how do you achieve that, you may ask? On a personal level, back in school, I was deeply saddened when I hear of my peers only wanting to 'pass' or 'make it through' the program. The end-goal they had in mind was merely the piece of paper presented today. In truth, we may not all be academic superstars or the high-flying executive in the office. But, by making the simplest conscious effort to do our very best in our work and studies, that IS the right step in being remarkable. Even if we fail in attaining any of our set goals, the path of dedication and perseverance you have taken is remarkable enough to be noticed by others around you, including your employers, family and friends. You may not have become a Purple Cow but you are not an ordinary white and black cow either. You have chosen to be remarkable rather than mediocre. Here is another opportunity to be remarkable and something that I urge you, my fellow graduates, to seriously consider. (Personal Branding) My academic research during the MIS and Northumbria programs brought about a big discovery and realisation: each and everyone of us is our own brand. Try this at home: do a Google search for yourself. What does Google say about YOU? Which of your achievements will Google 'present' to your future employers? Remember, all employers and recruiters are more than likely to google potential candidates before that very first interview. A simple online search can translate into a huge real life implication: 'you will not know what you cannot find and cannot see'
  4. 4. 4 With more people, especially the younger generation, increasingly producing content on Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to really stand out among the crowd is becoming more and more difficult. So how do you differentiate Your Personal Brand? Will you be able to compete with your younger counterparts in the future? The generation that is now growing up with the iPhone and netbooks? How do you become remarkable? The only plausible answer is to market yourself, just as you would your company's brand. My personal advice to you is to embrace the online world and create your personal 'Avatar', so to speak. Build your professional profile and add your resume on LinkedIn. Do not be afraid of Facebook, Twitter or even blogging your thoughts. No one is too old or late for the social Internet. It is time to give some serious attention to your personal brand and let yourself be found. (Open Sharing) However, I understand that some of you are unwilling to share your personal life and that you value your privacy. So I put this to you: you do not lose any of your privacy if you learn to control and understand what you are sharing. Just like your company's marketing program. Share only what you are willing to share but, most importantly, let yourself be found. The modern world is built on the open sharing of knowledge. If no one is willing to share knowledge and information, will be such an empty place. To my fellow graduates and those progressing on to their Bachelors or Masters program, I urge you to share your expertise and knowledge with your fellow students and help each other out by collaborating openly and closely. You will be surprised at how much more knowledge and trust you will receive in return for sharing your own. Let me share with you my own experience in knowledge free-sharing. I had published my Final Project's literature review, something entitled 'Role of Social Media in Contemporary Marketing' by making it available online through my blog and slidesharing services (Slideshare and Scribd). I am proud to reveal to you today that the University of Chicago's
  5. 5. 5 Graham School, through Professor Jason Parker whom I have never met, had used this piece of work as a required reading material for a post-graduate program. Somewhere on the other side of the world, a class of students is reading my own academic work for knowledge and information. Now ponder this: what good would it be if all my hard work, hours and hours of research and learning, had remained forever in my hard disk or in the two printed copies for final project submission? So let it be known: Information and knowledge want to be free. (Gratitude) On behalf of my fellow graduates, I would like to collectively thank the people that mattered in our lives, and with whom we share our accomplishment today: namely, our family, parents, spouse, friends and peers. A big gratitude also goes out to MIS' family of lecturers and administrators. In the three years that I had attended school in MIS, I was charmed by the responsiveness and friendliness of the people that represent the MIS brand. You are an organisation that listens, so continue to listen always. (End Notes) All those nights putting together assignments and drumming-in exam notes are thankfully over, for now at least, and I hope you are enjoying your evenings and weekends with family and friends. However, let this not be the end of your learning and that you will continue to pursue the world's knowledge and wisdom. In that, I wish you well in the next phase of your journey and of life-long learning. Lastly, believe that you can make change happen and you can achieve anything you want. Remember, I was and still am a poly dropout. I leave you with a quote from my favourite book, 'The Alchemist', from the great Brazilian author, Paulo Coelho:
  6. 6. 6 "When you want something bad enough, all the universe will conspire in helping you achieve it". Congratulations, best wishes to you and be remarkable.