I am deeply honoured to be selected as the Keynote Speaker of this important event. Congratulations to the Founder, the teachers, and the Management. Congratulations to all the Graduands. All your hard work so far has paid off. Ironically, I have learnt that “the reward of hard work is more work”: university and the work environment will demand more from you. I have no doubt that the quality of your secondary education has prepared you for the real world. It’s now what you make of it. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and many others made the best of their secondary education.
I must admit that university was fun. It was my years of partying. I thoroughly exhausted myself. You get to meet people from different backgrounds and cultures and interact closely. Some of my lifelong friendships were formed at that time. My motto was “work hard and play hard”. I partied hard but I cannot recall missing classes, assignments and failing any course. I have some tips for your success: do not miss any of your lectures; do not allow your room or flat to be the venue for hanging out or congregating or you would lose control of your time and not have a conducive environment to study. There is nothing like time management. You cannot manage time. Time waits for no one. You can only manage yourself. Lastly, do not allow your assignment to pile up on you. Otherwise, you would be overwhelmed. Effective self management is key.
Secondly, you will need self discipline to manage yourself efficiently. Self discipline has many definitions but the one I prefer says ‘doing what is right at the right time, whether you like it or not’. Nothing to do with likeness or choice. Do the right thing at the right time and you will get on in life. Success will be difficult or impossible in university and in the real world without self discipline. Focus less on what you like and more on what is right and at the right time. Conventional wisdom from your parents, teachers and the holy books are guides in identifying what is right. You can focus on what you like after success.
Thirdly, you need to decide on your purpose early. The purpose of life is a life of purpose. What are you trying to achieve? Who are you trying to serve? Help? Live a life of purpose from the onset. Your purpose may change from time to time but you must have a purpose in life. My late mother,Mrs. Wakilat Adebimpe Irokosu, was a civil servant and it was clear what her purpose was: raise her children to be independent and self sufficient and be kind to everyone. She sacrificed everything to educate my siblings and I. She would tell me that I could not make a living with her academic certificates. And, I only enrolled in university to make my mother happy. That’s a purpose. Not wasting parents resources is a purpose. Initially, my purpose was to be financially independent and also make up for the troubles I put my Mother through as a rascally child. But I later realized I went to University for my own good. Now, I decided my purpose is to build a family I can be proud of; build an enduring professional institution with like minds; and, impact my society. Lately, I am getting attracted to an esoteric purpose: I want to be a “successful nobody”. It’s another language for a quiet and independent life without attention. Conversely, I am working on being a DJ. How confused am I? Avoid negative motivations in identifying your purpose: anger, ego, jealousy, envy, external validation, undue attachment and aversion. Employers are looking for people with leadership qualities. Candidates that are responsible and can take initiatives. Only way to demonstrate leadership is through a purposeful life. Identify your purpose. Join the Student Union or your departmental Association to assist in shaping the quality of your education.
Lastly, read widely. It’s going to be a generalist world. Originally, universities were designed for liberal art courses. They offered liberal art courses, history, classics,philosophy and others, that gave a broad view of the society. Liberal arts creates a body of knowledge that enables critical reasoning, allows for multiple perspective taking and confers an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. It is an education system dating back to the 8th century BC with the original trivium of Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic. The trivium known as the study of words was later expanded to include the study of numbers under the Roman empire.
According to Sanmi Segun-Oki, an advocate of liberal arts education, the liberal arts curriculum gradually expanded to incorporate other subjects in the humanities, arts, natural and social sciences. With its broad approach to knowledge, the liberal arts system was the primary form of western education until the 18th century. The advent of the first industrial revolution ushered in the switch from an agrarian to a mechanized manufacturing led economy requiring a workforce with specific vocational based training. Skills in Engineering and Administration were favoured over skills in Rhetoric and Logic in an education system that attempts to incorporate elements of the liberal arts, but struggles to retain its ethos of cultivating the broad application of critical thinking, instead focusing on narrow vocation centred thinking.
The vocation-based education model is rooted in pragmatism, in general terms it has been effective in delivering on modernization on a global scale through three periods of industrial revolution.
Arguably, humanity is undergoing another transitional period, a 4th industrial revolution. One described by Professor Klaus Schwab as a range of technologies that fuse the physical, digital and biological, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries, challenging ideas of what it means to be human.
Still in the early stages of this industrial revolution, the world has witnessed advances in biotechnology with genome editing, in computing with cloud computing, implementation of Internet of Things and wide scale use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). In particular, advances in AI will play a substantial role in shaping the labour market of the future. The increasing adoption of automation in many industries to cut labour costs will lead to continued job losses amongst blue collar and eventually white collar workers.
In simple terms, the digitalized world is pushing for standardization.Meaning a computer should standardize my work as a lawyer, so the client can do it themselves. Supermarkets in the UK sell templates for Wills off the rack. You hardly need a lawyer to incorporate companies anymore. There is a software for vetting agreement now. We now have accounting packages that suggests we may not need accountants anymore. Technology is taking over jobs. How can you survive ? How can you remain relevant or in demand? You have to be a thinker. You cannot offer what the machine offer and be competitive. The machine is cheaper. You have to offer what a machine does not have and that is general knowledge, interpersonal skills and social capital.
Creativity will become more prized as a skill over technical proficiency as more repetitive tasks pass from humans to AI.
Critical reasoning will play a significant role in building understanding of which problems to solve and why, thus aiding in developing adaptive paradigms for solving previously unencountered problems.
Read newspapers. They usually have articles on different issues with interesting perspectives and opinions on current affairs and popular culture. Learn about music, politics, art and other things.
Once again, congratulations on your graduation. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.