To our College President, Fred Ayala—thank you for that kind introduction,

Administrators, teachers, employees, and alumni of National Teachers College

Dear parents, friends and students,

A pleasant morning to everyone.

It is my deep pleasure to be with all of you on this momentous occasion. I thank the NTC and its administrators, faculty, and staff for this kind invitation and great honor to address the Class of 2019.

Before anything else, allow me to congratulate our graduating students for this milestone achievement. A few months from now, many of you will be moving on to join the ranks of the private sector; some might even go ahead and pursue further studies. The coming days will certainly be very exciting times. I encourage everyone to make the most of time: recharge your energies, reconnect with friends, and gather the inspiration and insights that you will need as you move on to the next stage of your lives.

I also congratulate the parents, and families of the Class of 2019 present today. In a way, you also are graduating today. Putting one’s child through school is no easy task. This entails a lot of sacrifice; a significant amount of patience; and a strong degree of love and commitment to fully support our children in this their education journey that spans many years. As a parent myself, I fully understand the deep feeling of happiness and pride one gets when you see your child receive his or her diploma and later reap the fruits that a good education can bring. I believe that this is one of the most rewarding experiences that a parent can have, and once again I commend our hardworking and loving parents and family members who are here today and who are likewise culminating what has also been a fantastic journey.

Ayala’s commitment to education

At Ayala, we are strong believers in the transformative power of education to harness the untapped potential and energy of our people. It is also a great equalizer among people of diverse backgrounds, and a strong catalyst for social mobility and sustained, inclusive growth. Over many years and until today, we at Ayala have placed education as among our utmost priorities both in our businesses and in our philanthropic work.

Ayala’s participation in education stretches back many years, and we are proud that we have been part of the establishment of many distinguished institutions of learning. These include Concordia College, which was established in 1868 as the first all-women’s college in the country; the Asian Institute of Management, which was formed in 1968 on a parcel of land that Ayala donated; and De La Salle Zobel, which was also established on donated land in Muntinlupa City. In 1998, through the Ayala Foundation, we established CENTEX—or Center for Excellence in Public Elementary Education—which continues to support two model public schools in Tondo and Batangas.

In 2012, we formed AC Education, which deepens our firm commitment to the education sector. Our vision is simple: we want to equip our graduates with the skills and habits that are valued by employers, and to ensure that our graduates will have the best possible career options as they move towards a professional or entrepreneurial life. Last year, we further boosted our education participation through two major developments: First, we welcomed NTC to the broader family of educational institutions under Ayala, which at the time included APEC Schools at the senior high school level and the University of Nueva Caceres in the Bicol region. Second, we partnered with the Yuchengco Group of Companies to combine our education assets. Today, NTC can count Mapua University, Malayan Colleges Laguna, and Malayan Colleges Mindanao—some of the most well-respected science and engineering schools in the country—as its sister schools.

Emerging themes in today’s disrupted world

As mentioned earlier, the times ahead will prove to be very exciting and perhaps intimidating as well. We currently live in very volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous times. For institutions to survive and thrive, all of us would need to have a deeper understanding of three forces that will shape the world in the in the foreseeable future:

For instance, the digital revolution has accelerated to an exponential pace, and new technologies are now fundamentally changing organizations. We already live in a world where internet access is almost like a basic need; smartphones and connected devices have become near necessities; artificial intelligence and robots have started performing human jobs; and social media has placed itself as the primary means to connect with people. A digital and connected world will become the new normal.

In addition, navigating the digital world requires having people with the appropriate future-ready skills. In the coming years, there will be an increasing demand for people who have strong technical skills—like science and math. Likewise, there will also be a demand for people with strong social and cognitive skills—leadership, creativity, communication, and critical thinking. Most importantly, there will be a need for those with the right values and habits, specifically, curiosity, empathy, courage, resilience, and honesty.

Lastly, we see that the near future will challenge the private sector to enhance its sense of responsibility and reimagine its role in addressing societal challenges. Throughout the world, we have seen rising discontent and cynicism at institutions who have failed to live up to their promise. There is a strong call for the private sector to adopt more sustainable, responsible, and inclusive business models.

A vision for NTC’s graduates

Each of you here today are integral components in helping your future workplaces adapt to these disruptive forces I just mentioned.

For instance, our graduates from the College of Information Technology will be the drivers and enablers of the digital revolution. Our new IT professionals and computer engineers possess a unique set of competencies that we hope would not only be used to create greater efficiencies in organizations, but also craft digital solutions to improve the overall quality of life.

I also recognize our graduates from the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management, many of whom will be entering a fast-growing tourism industry. As you move into your professions, we hope that you will embody the warmth and heartfelt empathy for others that has become the signature of the Filipino. Furthermore, given our country’s remarkable natural gifts, we hope that you would also take to heart the principles of sustainability as you share the beauty of our country to visitors from all walks of life.

Let me also call out the graduates from the College of Accountancy and Business, who we envision to be the future movers of industry. I mentioned earlier that there is a clear need to reframe the way business is done. We hope that you would all become the enlightened leaders that will build a more socially-conscious, sustainable, and inclusive private sector.

Getting through life’s challenges

As you all move ahead with your own personal and professional journeys, you will encounter many challenges along the way that will make you question so many things about yourself and the world. Allow me to share three themes, which I have greatly helped me in my own journey, and which I hope will also help you as you move forward.

Firstly, I encourage you to maintain your natural curiosity. Every person is born with an innate sense of wonder and awe at the world around them. It is this natural curiosity that has enabled the creation of groundbreaking discoveries and transformative social movements. We need individuals who will not get tired of asking critical questions and pushing for change in a constructive and respectful manner. Our progress as a society greatly depend on people who are willing to ask hard questions and be different.  

Secondly, let me emphasize the importance of building relationships. The most meaningful and greatest impact is usually done when one works through and with others. Most, if not all the friends that you have made—and yes, even the rivals that you have encountered throughout your education—will become your partners in the future. As you progress further in your careers and take on larger responsibilities, success will depend on the network that you have built. Indeed, no man is an island and you will come to discover that the most enlightening advice, whether on one’s career, life, and love life can often come from the people you least expect. I hope that you will build and maintain strong links with the many diverse and interesting individuals that you have met along the way.

Lastly, I encourage you to always be true to yourself and to always have hope. The world outside school can be quite difficult and unforgiving at times. People and even organizations outside may not share the same values and beliefs that you hold dear—and it becomes quite easy to just give up and become pessimistic in viewing the world. People are naturally attracted to those who are sincere, honest, and idealistic—and I encourage you to imbibe and embody these values. In a world of post-truths and alternative facts, now more than ever, we need authentic and hopeful leaders to step forward. We look to you be beacons of light amidst an environment of great hardships and challenges.

To close, as you march and receive your diplomas, let me highlight that this is just a commencement—it is the beginning of many more steps to come. Your diploma is a badge that signifies that you have undergone a significant transformation within yourself as you went through your college education. Moving forward, you are now charged with being a catalyst to likewise transform and empower others. You all have with you a wealth of opportunities to create a more meaningful, kind, and happy world for your family, community, our nation, and the broader society at large. I, along with your teachers, parents, and friends, hope that as you commence your life’s journey, you would all continue to be curious, kind to others, true to yourself, and hopeful at what the world has to offer.

I wish you all well in your next chapter, and I look forward to the world that you will build as proud graduates of NTC.

Congratulations and have a pleasant afternoon.

Graduation Speech
Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala
Chairman and CEO, Ayala Corporation
National Teachers College Graduation
1 June 2019, Philippine International Convention Center

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