13 Oct 2018

Speech by Dr Christopher Syn, MDIS Vice-President at MDISSpeeches

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Tan Kah Hoe, MDIS Trustee and Secretary, MDIS Senate;

Dr Dennis Jowaisis, Professor Emeritus of Psychology, Oklahoma City University;

Professor Karlie Harmon, Director of International Mass Communications Programs, Oklahoma City University;

Distinguished Guests;



Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.

A very warm welcome to the MDIS – Oklahoma City University Graduation Ceremony.

Today, we celebrate the academic success of all of you in the graduating class. My heartiest congratulations.

Your completion of your Bachelor’s Degree or Diploma is a testimony of your hard-work, determination and courage to succeed, your late nights, your sacrifices. But let us not forget the people, your parents, loved ones and lecturers, who have supported and guided you throughout this learning journey.

Take this time to show your deepest appreciation to them – please rise and give them a big round of applause.  

Graduation is the start of a new journey
Your graduation today marks the ending of one journey and the commencement of another. Your education from Oklahoma City University was the learning journey. You gained industry-relevant knowledge and skills to take on the world of media and communications, and also that of psychology. You have also developed important personal soft-skills such as teamwork, collaboration, diligence and perseverance.

You are now ready to exit the classroom and enter the working world, where you begin your next journey, the applying journey. You will have to apply what you have learnt, translate the knowledge and skills you have acquired into outcome. Many candidates at job interviews often tell me about what they know. Sorry, not interested. What the company wants to know is what do you bring to the table. What can you deliver for the company. What value do you add to the company.

Change is ‘Norm’
This journey ahead is full of change, like it or hate it. Change is the norm. Technological advances can enable new industries. They can also disrupt existing ones. You had 2G, 3G. Now you have 4G and 5G networks. This high speed connectivity has enabled voice calls over Whatsapp and Wechat, and media streaming on Netflix and Amazon. But it has disrupted conventional voice calling, SMS, and pay-TV. Starhub is now retrenching and restructuring.

Furthermore, this speed of change can be terrifying. Look at the buzz words of today’s economy – digitalisation, data analytics. They did not exist 1 or 2 years ago. The cynical call them flavour of the month because they change so rapidly.  But that is precisely the point – the waves of change come rapidly.

The media and communications industry is shifting from traditional media to new media. Print is passé. You have social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, instant messaging apps. Then you have augmented reality, wearable technology, a seemingly ever-expanding internet of things. These are just the technological aspects. A successful communications professional must also bear in mind the socio-political, economic, cultural, religious aspects that influence and drive changes in the new media and communications landscape.

The face of psychology is changing too, underpinned by an ever increasingly complex world. Demographic, social and economic changes are impacting our society, our reality, and this has a bearing on the nature of psychology. For our psychology graduates, you have a strong foundation in psychological theory and research from a variety of perspectives and approaches. You will be faced with many challenges no doubt but you will also have many opportunities to apply your knowledge and skills in various settings in your career and life.

Road to Success
What can you do to stay relevant and to ensure your growth and success in this ever changing environment? Let me offer 2 ideas that I believe can empower you to fulfil your potential and realise your dreams.

One, continual deep learning. In 2010, the Economic Strategies Committee helmed by DPM Shanmugaratnam released a report on how to sustain economic growth and enable broad-based improvement in Singaporeans’ living standards. And in 2017, Committee for the Future Economy co-chaired by Ministers Heng and Iswaran issued a set of strategies to “build a Singapore of global relevance; a Singapore that can ceaselessly reinvent herself and grasp new opportunities”. Both reports highlighted one common theme – the importance of developing deep expertise and continual refreshing of this expertise.

Having both deep and broad-spectrum knowledge and skills that is continually refreshed allows you to ride the waves of change at its crest. You are on top of the change, identify new niches and recognising their potential, leading the pack. The alternative if you are not on top? Well, in a wave, either you are on top, or you are swallowed and dragged through the sediments. Your choice.

The second idea is about seizing opportunities. At work, you may be assigned tasks that you may think of as being outside your job scope – staff welfare, organising dinner and dance, emcee for events etc. When presented with a task, regardless big or small, take it. Each opportunity is another opportunity to learn, expand your breadth of competencies, and to gain experience. It is also an opportunity to collaborate and network with people inside and outside of your organisation.

You may not realise it, but you are being watched and assessed by both your management and your peers. Use the opportunity to show what you are capable of, to display your attitude and your aptitude. As I had said at the beginning, the company wants to know what you can do. If you perform well, it is natural that the management will remember you as a person to go to – trialled and tested.

As you leave MDIS Campus today, think what Jack Ma of Alibaba said – “We appreciate yesterday, but we are looking for a better tomorrow.” Learn and re-learn. Have the agility and the guts to change course. Don’t give up. Because it is only in tough times when the exceptional will stand out from the ordinary. Remember, you are in control of your own tomorrow. So graduands, reach for the sky and seize tomorrow. Congratulations again, and I wish you every success in all your future endeavours.

Thank you.