President Edward Guiliano addresses and celebrates the Class of 2014 at NYIT-Abu Dhabi.
Good evening, welcome, and congratulations, Class of 2014.
Take a moment and look around you at this remarkable gathering. Today we are all connected; to our 27 baccalaureate and 10 master’s graduates of NYIT here in Abu Dhabi and their achievements – but also to one another, and to NYIT… here and around the world.
“Only connect!” advised the writer E.M. Forster in his novel, Howard’s End. But he wrote that over a hundred years ago. Nowadays, when we want to connect, we’re usually asking if the Wi-Fi is working.
When we talk about human connection, we’re referring to something more personal, the kind of bond that allows us to share and exchange ideas, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
And in this brave new digital world, we humans need connectivity as well. In order to make human connections, we need the ability to communicate with one another across global networks, and also across geographic borders, languages, cultures, and disciplines.
During your years here, regardless of the profession you will pursue, I am confident that you have learned the skills for both connectivity and connection.
Technology is more than a skill or a tool – it is our world.
It was not always this way.
In my university days, “high tech” meant feeding a deck of punch cards to a main-frame computer. Back then, a university was a repository of knowledge where professors were prophets and guardians of wisdom.
Now, with a simple click, anyone can have immediate access to unimaginable masses of information.
Yet, as Einstein wisely said, “Information is not knowledge.” To which I humbly add, “And knowledge is not wisdom.”
So, if technology is how we connect, cultural fluency is what allows us communicate with one another, recognizing the value of both our differences and commonalities.
Let me share a brief story. It is about human connections, recognizing the value of differences and about family. For students and faculty at NYIT, every day and everywhere, connection and interdependent learning happens—in the classroom, in hallways, labs, student meetings, and other forums.
It is a tale of another “three musketeers” -– as I understand they have been called -– at NYIT-Abu Dhabi. Three students united to help a fellow student, who is visually impaired, to succeed in the classes they take together. They gave him confidence and support so he moved ahead more quickly and successfully than he would have without their effort. The added result? The three musketeers feel they have gained more than they gave. They learned discipline and business skills from him and excelled at their courses. They describe their classmate as their rock, inspiration, role model, champion, and above all, they are now all “like a family.” Two of these students are graduating today. One will be speaking directly to you later in today’s program. Connection made.
Steve Jobs often complained about the narrow focus and limited backgrounds of his Apple colleagues. Because they “haven't had very diverse experiences, they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem.”
Global problems, like sustainability and access to clean water, require solutions that incorporate multiple areas of expertise and locales. They will depend on teams of people and clusters of ideas, often working virtually, in cross-cultural collaborative hubs that span the world. That’s why we were excited to bring together our students from New York and Abu Dhabi at our first global cybersecurity conference.
Both connection and connectivity are helping to drive the U.A.E.’s continued economic expansion. Fittingly, you are entering the next phase of your lives at a time of extraordinary growth in some key sectors directly related to increased connection and connectivity. Consider the following:
The dramatic increase in e-commerce in the Middle East in general and Abu Dhabi in particular. The growth in revenues in the UAE, expected to go from $2.9 billion in 2012 to $5.1 billion in 2015, will partly be due to infrastructure improvements, such as street addresses and an upcoming network of delivery lockers.
The expansion of both Etihad Airways and Abu Dhabi Airport. Etihad has nearly 200 new aircraft on order, and the airport’s Midfield Terminal, now under construction, will triple the airport’s capacity when it is completed in 2017. And I can tell you first hand, that the current airport is one of the few places in the world where you can clear U.S. customs before taking off.
The continuing development of Saadiyat Island’s cultural district, with the Louvre Abu Dhabi set to open on National Day 2015. The Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and the other venues will open in 2016, 2017, and beyond.
Upon graduation, some of you will begin or continue careers in banking, marketing, investing, tourism, sales, events, and design. For others, today is a first step towards graduate school. But there is no doubt you all will head into careers that will morph over time. Consider that only a few decades ago, no one was studying cybersecurity.
Some of you will find careers in fields not yet created, based on knowledge that does not yet exist.
I am happy to report that NYIT expects to bring two master degree programs to Abu Dhabi soon that will serve the UAE well. One is the “Master of Science in Instructional Technology" and the other is "Master of Science in Information, Network & Computer Security." Both have had favorable CAA reviews here, and we hope for official approvals before the fall.
Employers today, it must be remembered, seek more than technical skills. They need people who can learn quickly and synthesize disparate bits of information. They want employees who can work in teams, but are also “emergent leaders.” And even leaders need the humility to embrace ideas better than their own.
Your education has helped you to develop the skills you will need to succeed. I also trust that we have taught you to how fail successfully. Learning how to fail – or rather, how to learn from failure – is one of life’s great lessons.
And make no mistake: everyone, at some point, fails. It has been estimated that it takes 3,000 ideas to yield one successful product. Do keep an open mind and remain curious.
I began this speech by noting that we all are connected by this graduation day. In fact, two of your classmates were in New York last month to participate in commencement ceremonies there, and one of our Manhattan graduates is here celebrating with you today.
Even as you leave our classrooms, I encourage you to maintain your connection with NYIT.
Connect with us online, through social media.
Connect at our networking and professional development events, reunions, and workshops.
Connect with our powerful network of alumni. You now have family in almost every nation in the world…NYIT family. Whether it is today or in 10 years, they are waiting for your call.
Connect with the next generation of NYIT innovators. Mentor a future graduate, recruit new students – no one tells the NYIT story better than you.
Remember: your success is ours, ours is yours.
Take one final moment to look around you. These smiling faces are not just a part of your past; they are part of your future as well.
In closing, I offer some simple words of advice: remember to think deeply, speak gently, love much, laugh often, work hard, give freely, pay promptly … and be kind.