27 Mar 2011
UCC Conferrring Speech by Mr John Mullins, Chief Executive, Bord Gáis Éireann, 24th March 2011
Some 120 postgraduate and doctoral students were conferred at UCC’s Spring Conferring Ceremony today (24th March 2011). The students graduated from the four colleges: Arts, Celtic Studies & Social Sciences; Business & Law; Medicine & Health; Science, Engineering & Food Science. The Conferring Address was given by Mr John Mullins, Chief Executive, Bord Gáis Éireann (Edited Version of John Mullins Speech below by Kmc.)
President, Vice Presidents, Heads of Colleges, Professors, Conferees, Distinguished Guests.
It is a great honour for me to be asked to speak to this array of talent present in this room – a collection of talent in which we all have great hopes and aspirations. I am particularly proud as a twice graduated student of UCC, a member of its Governing Body and as a relatively young Industrial Leader to share with you some key thoughts as you embark on new journeys.
It would be difficult for any speaker in a short period of time to be relevant to all of the disciplines represented here today but there are common challenges and contexts which apply to you all. They come in the form of questions?
Were the last two, three or four years worth it?
Am I a better person for the experience?
Are my skills honed and enhanced for pastures new?
Where are those pastures?
How will I repay my parents?
We live in troubled times where pessimism and denial have replaced the giddy search for opportunities – but these opportunities do exist. It is vitally important that Universities and those reside within, actively seek these opportunities rather than wallow within the boundaries of a fine campus.
In essence whilst we learn much within these grounds, you more than most, it is only useful if this learning can be applied to the common man – whether in Arts, Law, Commerce, Medicine or Science. The common man and his betterment must always be our focus. That focus must be external, it must be ever present.
I can only assume that the majority of talent here present will enter industry and the economy generally – in the context of academic moratoria there is little choice. This is a feature of Universities which is unlikely to change over the next number of years. This behoves a responsibility on Governing Bodies such as UCC to ensure that its Graduates at all levels are fit for purpose, can hopefully be quick starters for an Irish Economy which needs a significant quick start.
It is also expected that many of you will leave our shores but we must reflect on Newman’s wise words when he says:
“You must imitate the student in French or German, who is not content with his grammar, but goes to Paris or Dresden: you must take example from the young artist, who aspires to visit the great Masters in Florence and in Rome.”
I myself took a route of optional emigration (maybe a luxury of the past but not a luxury of today) to enhance my skills. Those three years in London provided me with over ten years of additional experience in my field. An experience that is now very relevant in the transition of Bord Gáis over the last three years.
I have very fond memories of my time here, on the field of play, on the stage or debating with the Philosoph. This University certainly conditioned me to be leader but I was not always a leader and we do not all need to be leaders – the world would be a very boring place if that was the case.
Careers take bohereens and motorways – sometimes the driving is difficult and sometimes you can get a speeding ticket but more often you have a general direction but not a specific destination.
My advice is to expect to learn and want to learn every day of the rest of your career and life because nothing in the 21st Century stays static.
As the next President of the Cork Chamber of Commerce I would like to congratulate the staff at UCC for providing this region with talent such as you and innovative ideas. We are excited by the numbers of patents arising from UCC – more in number than TCD and UCD combined. These patents need to be incubated locally and we hope that the new Science and Innovation Park will enhance those opportunities. We look forward to the IMI-UCC merger, the growth of Tyndall, the establishment of the Marine Energy Research Centre, the continued advances/announcements in medical science, a further influx of overseas students and a significant School of Asian Studies.
May I wish you all every success on your road – whatever road it is I hope it is as straight as can be.