Heng Swee Keat tells SMU graduates: Be adaptable, but retain one's spark to energise others

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat addresses graduates at the opening ceremony of Singapore Management University's Commencement 2018 on July 31, 2018.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat addresses graduates at the opening ceremony of Singapore Management University's Commencement 2018 on July 31, 2018.ST PHOTO: SONG TAO

SINGAPORE - Be like an adapter plug but have your own spark of inspiration too, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat told Singapore Management University (SMU) graduates receiving their degrees on Tuesday (July 31).

He emphasised the importance of being adaptable in a speech at the opening ceremony of SMU's Commencement 2018, noting that the humble but indispensable adapter plug allows him to draw power from the places he visited and stay connected.

Said Mr Heng: "We need to develop our cultural sensitivity and fluency in the different political climates, business environments and social contexts of other countries.

"The ability to adapt, re-skill and upgrade will become a critical advantage as the nature of work changes... I hope you will recognise that we are all better off adapting to be able to work together, than staying rigid and being at odds with one another."

But Mr Heng added that it was important too to retain one's spark of inspiration, and have a unique current that can energise others.

Mr Heng was addressing 300 graduates from the Lee Kong Chian School of Business who were conferred their degrees at the SMU Hall in the School of Law.

Tuesday's event was the first of the university's 11 commencement ceremonies to be held over four days.

A total of 1,919 students will receive their bachelor's degrees, with 86 of them receiving double degrees. Another 988 will be conferred postgraduate degrees such as a master's or doctorate.

At the ceremony, Mr Heng also paid tribute to outgoing SMU president Arnoud De Meyer for leading the university through a new phase of growth and excellence in the past eight years.

Professor De Meyer, 63, will step down at the end of this year, to be replaced by current SMU Provost Lily Kong from Jan 1 next year.