May 16, 2011

Commencement Address by Sava Čvek

President Pantić, members of Wentworth Institute of Technology and the Board of Trustees, members of the faculty, parents, and especially you, the graduates.

I cannot tell you what an honor is to be with you on such a special day in your life. I want to thank you for making it equally special for me, and I am grateful that we can share this moment together. You will be leaving Wentworth after several years of learning. You are now much smarter and wiser and more mature. My hope for you is that one day each of you will succeed in your life beyond your wildest expectations. Each one of you has a unique gift and each one of you has a role in helping to make this world a better place. How should you use your gifts?

Lesson Number One: keep learning. 

The world in front of you is a very competitive place. Graduates will come from many different schools, from many different countries, from many different cultures. You are going to enter a continuously adjusting market place with incredible complexities and equally great opportunities. I would like to tell you something interesting. This is the market that is both regional and global at the same time, and it is the market where business and financial rules are of the cutting edge, futuristic, and based on complex new organizational models.

For the last several decades American companies have promoted international business and global development. This has opened international borders for American products and also transcends our values of equality, fairness, and appreciation of freedom. America has not only changed the world in economic sense but equally in social and political terms. All of you graduating today are entering a workplace where a company you will be working for are most likely involved, in one way or another, in an international business. Your coworkers will be people with a different background and of a different cultural background and religion.  

Most likely the product you will be working on will be conceptualized and designed in America, engineered by several different companies from many different parts of the world, with technology and intellectual property belonging to numerous international corporations.  Your company shareholders will be investors from many countries in the world. New products will be made in partnerships by factories located in the United States, Europe, India, or in the Far East and will be sold in the world market.

In a very short time we have seen very large changes in the way we conduct business. In less than two decades our economy went from an information-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Today we have just entered the stage of innovation-based economy. In this stage good performance is confronted by great performance. Having a good performance is not enough. If you want to get ahead of your competition you will need to have great performance. In the innovation-based economy you and your product will need to be exceptional in order to win.

American companies have developed partnerships and developed joint ventures with almost every country in the world. Many of our partners and new required friends are now opening factories in the United States and we are developing new ideas and opening new business and marketing frontiers that never existed before. Embrace this future and learn how to win. If you want to advance yourself in engineering and technology besides taking technical courses, learn Chinese, Spanish, or Russian. These are our industrial and business partners of tomorrow. Take a trip and see few countries in Europe, Asia, or South America. This will allow you to see and learn about their way of life and you will understand better how they see us.

Lesson Number two: be great by remaining true to your own values.

It is not important the size of your contribution. It is important that you contribute.

One of your greatest assets will be the values you select to be at the very core of what you believe your life should be about. What truly makes you great is your knowledge, values, and the quality of performance; not a name of the place you have come from. The one thing that will always make a difference is the strength of your passion, creativity, and knowledge for how to turn your dreams and visions into a final product.

My hope is that you will never stop dreaming and that you will be phenomenally creative as long as you live. There are many people who believe that greatness is earning a million dollars. Do not take me wrong, earning a million dollars is absolutely great. But equally great is when mom or dad takes their child, healthy, and clean, from a loving warm home to a school, and picks them up in the afternoon. It is very hard to run a company, work many long hours every day, spend innumerable hours on the road, and make sure company growth, earnings, and profitability are steadily going up.

That is great, but somewhere in between the hard work if you do not find time to enjoy life, have family, find time to play with your kids, take a bike ride, have time for charity and help your community, you will miss a whole point. To be a contributing member of a team is greatness; to support and to be loyal to a team leader is greatness; and if you do not understand this you will never become a great leader yourself.

A lot of great people never get noticed. Most of them never gave a speech or found time to write a book. Being great is doing very simple things of kindness, every day of your life. In my life I have had a special privilege to meet some very great people. Not one of them accomplished great achievements over night. Great things do not get accomplished overnight. They do not get accomplished in a year or two. Great creations we see around us happened because of the great persistence and perseverance over a decade or entire lifetime. As you leave this place today remember that learning is a fantastic journey, not a destination point. Remember that there are some beliefs you cannot abandon, that there are stands you cannot give up and values you will always defend.

I come from a very small country called Serbia. Serbia is the birth place of Rome Emperor Constantine the Great, who for the first time in history established Christianity to be the official religion of the state. Today, I am proud of my new homeland. America is the greatest country in the world. We all need to continue to prove this everyday with a growing economy, political wisdom, a sound and well-based financial system, with innovation, cutting edge science and technology, and respect for human dignity and peace. With your knowledge and your values, you will provide this future. Embrace it!

I did not do all the things to my expectations, but with every new day of my life, with the help of my faith I am doing all I can to improve myself and our world.

Always strive to do things better. My hope is that you will have great productive lives, full of exciting work, love, passion, and creativity, and that you will contribute, even by the smallest measure, in making the world a better place than it was when you arrived here.

May God bless you all. 

Good Luck.

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