Devere Hall, Áras na Mac Léinn, UCC, 09 Sep 2010
Mr Leonard Hobbs, Research Programmes Manager, Intel @ 10.00am
Autumn Conferrings 2010
10.00am Thursday 9 September 2010
Mr Leonard Hobbs, Research Programmes Manager, Intel
President , UCC graduates and Friends,
May I begin by thanking you for this prestigious invitation to address this UCC graduate class of 2010? As a UCC graduate myself from over 20 years ago, I am indeed honoured to speak to you here today and congratulate you on reaching this summit in your educational journey. You have done the entrance exam, the junior cert, the leaving cert and here you have arrived to what is I’m sure a proud moment for you, your family and friends.
Congrats also to all the Mums and Dads. On behalf of these graduates, I would like to thank you for the many years of packed lunches, the thousand of miles you have driven and the hours you have worried, as you guided these young minds on their journey thus far. Congrats also to your teachers and not just those here at UCC, but also the primary and secondary heroes who shaped your young minds.
As a young lad in Cork, our summer days were filled with trips to Garretstown. On the way home, my Dad would stop for the unusual combination of fresh mackerel and ice-cream in Kinsale. Later, he would invariably strike up a chorus of ‘the bear went over the mountain..and what you think he saw..well, he saw another mountain…and so it is with your journey ahead. Life is a series of peaks and troughs, with great efforts required to scale the next summit and great relief to be had as you reach the peak and free wheel down the other side. As a UCC graduate, you are well prepared to take on the tough climbs ahead. Today, you received your golden ticket to what can be a great journey ahead and you have received the basic skills to make a serious contribution to society. I encourage you to go on to be creative, innovative and look to be a Willy Wonka as opposed to an Umpa Lumpa. I’m sure that the skills you have learned here at UCC go well beyond the academic learnings. For my part, I have very fond memories of my time with the Philosoph where I learned to think on my feet and survive the heaving cauldron of G19. A place where RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy, then the young president of the Students Union of Ireland was stopped in full flow by a heckler, who wanted to know if the red tie he was wearing was, in fact, a nose bleed !
These are difficult times we now find ourselves in, with the Celtic Tiger is in rehab…but we have been here before and as a country, we will again emerge even stronger. When I was a graduate in 1986, Ireland was going through some very tough times. Cork, in particular, was taking a battering and struggled to celebrate its Cork800 event. The sad joke at the time was that the 800 represented not the age of the city but that there were only 800 jobs left in the city after the demise of the large multinational employers at Ford and Dunlops. Further afield DEC, the one shining light of US investment was imploding with the loss of several thousand jobs in Galway. But in the early 90’s, the Celtic tiger was born with the arrival of new leading edge multinationals from the booming computing industry such as Intel, IBM and HP, followed later by the successful creation of our own multinationals, such as Iona Technologies. These companies were attracted, in large part, by the availability of a young, well educated workforce. Their success in Ireland over the last 20 years has been enabled by the talent of this workforce. They have thrived in Ireland, producing world class results in manufacturing and, most recently, in R&D, such as my own company’s success in the hugely important discipline of Nanotechnology. Unfortunately, the tiger has not had such success in his second phase as the property boom could not be sustained. However I firmly believe that the tiger will ride again and I am encouraged by the number of you here today who have chosen the all important area of science within which to build your careers.
I would ask you not to be distracted by the seemingly endless debating of the previous tiger’s financial failings and instead look forward to the real challenges facing Ireland and the world today. It is by addressing these issues that we will not only make the world a better place but also, we can recover the prosperity we have enjoyed in recent times. The challenges are many in the areas of health, energy, environment and food availability. For example, fossil fuels account for 80% of the worlds energy and we have a finite supply. Our population is estimated to grow from 6.5 billion in 2005 to a figure of 9 billion in 2050. At that time, when you will be thinking of retiring, there will be a huge strain on our services such as pensions and medical resources with three times as many people over 60 as there are today. As such we need significant breakthroughs in how we manage health, create energy and manage food supplies. The good news is that your life expectancy will be approaching 100 so you will have lots of time to work on these challenges !
That said, we live in an exciting world where information is available at unprecedented levels due to the growth of the internet, communication is global and almost instantaneous, and travel is accessible to all. I would encourage you to travel. The great philosopher and honey loving bear Winnie the Pooh once said that ‘you can’t sit in your corner of the forest and wait for people to come to you...you have to go to them sometimes’. We have a great tradition in Ireland of explorers from St Brendan to Ernest Shackleton. Emigration can have great personal impact, it can also bring great opportunity as travel is a wonderful educator. So do go and bring your talents to the world. Look to learn from others, to sharpen your skills and when the time is right, return and feed the next tiger…your country needs you and indeed, my pension needs you !
Woody Allen said that 80% of success was in showing up. However, I would think it is a little more complicated than that and I would offer you three recommendations from my own adventures to date. Firstly, get to know yourself. Understand what you are good at. Invariably, this will be what you enjoy doing the most, where you are ‘in the zone’. Try to build your careers in this direction and if it is not possible, then try and incorporate some of this talent in your daily routine. Secondly, you should know what success means to you and be able to measure it. One of my own favourite’s is Stephen Covey’s definition. Success is not what you yourself define but rather what you would want your friends, colleagues and family to say about you when you are done. Finally, have fun…have a sense of humour and carpe diem.
I honestly believe that you are not only a capable generation but you are also a more confident generation than have gone before. You are the soldiers of the smart economy and the future captains of world leading industry. Good luck in all your endeavours. I hope you enjoy your day today. Tomorrow, I would ask you to look to the next mountain.