By Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Juris Doctor
Delivered during the Morning Ceremonies of the 65th Graduation Rites of the University of Saint La Salle-Bacolod, Bacolod City, Philippines, May 29, 2022
Graduates of the New Normal – the Brave Batch of 2022 – You are such a unique breed. You faced a pandemic that disrupted the whole globe, drastically stopped human activities, changed almost everything.
As Negrenses, you survived a devastating typhoon and experienced one of the most highly controversial electoral seasons. The road that led you to this day was paved with so many difficulties – yet you are here. And so, we are very proud of you.
A fulfilling and inspiring morning to everyone.
I am very honored to join you in this milestone and equally excited as you are today. It feels like I am one of you – also a graduate. From the school of life or at least a level thereof. Trust me. The view from up here is so amazing I am sure that in the future – some of you will have the chance to stand where I stand today. Maybe not in this stage. Maybe in some other stage out there waiting for you to grow and develop into successful human beings.
This university has given you that hope. You are now holding in your hands – A virtual passport. Yes, a virtual passport that could take you to almost anywhere in the world.
To me, that is what education is, it gives us hope. It allows us to dream. That’s what I firmly believe as a child, that I will achieve my dream, despite of all difficulties I struggled with to finish my studies.
At 9 years old, I lost the best teacher I had – my mother. My 40-year-old widower of a father had to raise five small children – with me being the eldest. I was counting the years, the months until I reach 18 so I can apply for a job.
My first job when I was just in third year college – was as a reporter for a local television and I was so proud even when the show was only 15 minutes long.
My journey to this stage today has not been very easy – but it has been really rewarding.
I sincerely thank the University of Saint LaSalle for this opportunity. For this once in a lifetime chance, to go back. And experience this feeling again 25 years ago.
Yes that’s 25 years ago, I was sitting exactly where you are sitting today, and if you ask me what I was feeling at that time. I cannot even remember; I was just probably too conscious of how I look. But I cannot even remember who our graduation speaker was. So – I don’t really expect you to remember yours. But I wish that you will remember this day.
I have so many things to share about myself today to inspire you – but today is about you – so let me use this platform to amplify the things that I hope will guide you as you enter the next chapter of your lives.
So many things have changed. But the big question is — how do we thrive amidst these changes?
As you step out of this school today – you are already equipped with the knowledge that this institution has imparted to you based on your respective fields of discipline. And so therefore, what I wish to highlight aside from knowledge are the needed skills – skills which you will not learn overnight – not immediately master, but will take time to develop.
There’s a 2021 research by McKinsey called Defining the Skills Citizens Will Need in the Future of Work.
The research, which involved over 18,000 people from different countries – identified 56 foundational skills called DELTAS – short for distinct elements of talent — a combination of knowledge, skills, and attitude – that will help citizens thrive in the future of work.
Let us make this speech interactive – as you listen to me silently reflect on where your strength lies, and what you need to improve on.
Let’s begin. These DELTAS are divided into four categories – cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, self-leadership, and digital skills. Cognitive skills include critical thinking, problem solving, logical reasoning, understanding biases and seeking relevant information.
It also involves planning and ways of working, time management, and prioritization, agile thinking, and ability to learn.
You also need communication skills. Among the powerful forms are storytelling, and public speaking, asking the right questions, synthesizing messages, and active listening
You need to have mental flexibility, creativity, and imagination, translating knowledge to different contexts, and adapting different perspectives.
Interpersonal or people skills involve mobilizing systems, ability to secure win-win negotiations, crafting and inspiring vision, and organizational awareness, developing relationships, empathy, inspiring trust, humility and sociability, teamwork, fostering inclusiveness, motivating different personalities, resolving conflicts, and collaboration.
To echo the McKinsey 2022 collaboration challenge – Collaboration is no longer just a buzzword. It is a personal and professional skill.
Self-leadership is about self-awareness and self-management and entrepreneurship as well as goals achievement – which means understanding your own emotional triggers, self-control, understanding your own strengths, showing integrity, self-motivation, and self-confidence.
Among the 56 skills is also entrepreneurship – which means courage and risk taking, driving change and innovation, energy, passion, and optimism. You also need goals achievement mindset, decisiveness, grit, and persistence, coping with uncertainty, and self-development.
Digital skills include digital fluency and citizenship, digital literacy, digital learning, digital collaboration, and digital ethics, understanding digital systems, which involves data literacy, smart systems, cybersecurity literacy, software use, data analysis, and algorithmic thinking.
To make sure you get the full list of skills, the long version of my speech today will be available at jocellebatapasigue.com. This is the Digital Age after all, most everything comes in digital format.
Now let us see – do you have at least ten of the skills I mentioned?
Futurist Gerd Leonard says any skill that cannot be digitized or automated will become extremely valuable, Human only traits such as creativity and imagination. Intuition emotion and ethics will even be more important in the future. The new way to work is to embrace technology but not to become it. The future is in technology, yet the bigger future lies in transcending it.
What is important is to adopt a mindset of life-long learning – the very essence of education – the ability to learn, and the capacity to re-learn the things that are important, to re-skill, to upskill, and to unlearn to learn new ways.
By continuing to learn, we generate more public value.
If Taylor Swift told the graduates of New York to Keep on dancing. I say – Keep on Learning – it’s more fun and rewarding!
Today, you live in a country where –
- the average age is 24 years old, making us among the top nations with the youngest population
- where there is 153 percent more mobile phone subscriptions than the total population
- where 90M citizens are on social media
- where netizens spend 10.56 hours on the internet daily, topping the list of countries where the global average is 6.54 hours
—- we live in a hyper-connected and fast-paced world today — therefore use your education, strategically – as a strong foundation, as a starting point.
And as you receive your diplomas today, think about the future and ways about how to give back.
Because life is about giving and taking. About taking a chance, taking risks. Then when you succeed – you give back. Give back if you can do so – give yourself to service, to your community, to institutions where you belong.
Having served as city councilor of Bacolod was a great chance for me to give back. My dream was to help generate thousands of jobs for the city with the help of the Bacolod-Negros Occidental Federation for Information and Communications Technology. To see thousands of digital jobs and the name of Bacolod as one the Philippine’s center of excellence in ICT is a fulfillment of that dream.
And I have never stopped – whether I am in public office or as a private catalyst – I continue to strongly advocate for digital innovation.
I continue to help different cities and provinces around the country in building their digital ecosystems to generate more jobs, investments, and opportunities for their citizens.
I continue to help improve public service and government systems in various capacities – as a policy innovation consultant, helping policymakers create relevant laws, as a digital governance advocate, and as a mentor for startups and micro, small and medium enterprises.
During the pandemic, I even started an online bartering page on social media which was followed by more than a 150 cities and provinces.
Nothing can stop us from giving back to our communities. By using our ideas and skills.
As you continuously hone your skills and succeed in your careers, you will also make money, but be careful about the tendency to worship money or become its slave.
I believe that when people throw away their principles in exchange for power or money, it will be hard for them to recognize themselves in the mirror soon enough.
You need to take each day as it comes. Develop a positive mindset. Learn to appreciate yourself and what you have achieved.
Learn from your mistakes. There are no failures in life. Only lessons to be learned.
Keep iterating and testing your ideas, and always assess what needs to be changed and improved. Be your biggest critic, and your closest friend.
Make integrity, skillfulness, and excellence in everything you do – the new normal.
Give hope – give hope to others. For me, that should be the aim of education – the goal of every educated citizen of this country – to give hope to our communities – to be able to give hope to our country.
In his speech at Stanford University in 2005, the late Steve Jobs told the graduates to Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. Let me repeat that in my own version – Stay Hungry for More Learning. Stay Foolish to keep testing your ideas.
In his speech at Harvard University in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg told the graduates that of all their biggest opportunities, everything comes down to your ability to build communities and create a world where every single person has a sense of purpose.
My dear fellow La Sallians, go and find your purpose in your communities. The world is waiting for you.
Congratulations. Animo La Salle!
Jocelle Batapa-Sigue, Juris Doctor
Jocelle Batapa-Sigue delivered two graduation speeches on May 29, 2022. The foregoing speech was delivered in the morning of the same day to the graduates of the College of Business and Accountancy. Here is the speech delivered in the afternoon to other colleges – To the Graduates of 2022: Keep Learning