Principal Michael Thomson, Syed Babar Ali Sb, faculty, students, ladies and gentlemen, ASW.
I feel privileged to be here on this auspicious occasion and thank you very much for your kind invitation.
We are here to celebrate excellence derived from hard work, and perseverance which commands success. Rursom puer is the Aitchison motto for your singular achievements today, but success is also a result of how others have lifted and supported you.
Before I say more about this, I want to congratulate each and every one of you and applaud Aitchison’s teachers and staff, and parents, who have helped you to get here.
As you celebrate today...tomorrow, a new reality, and new challenges await you.
And especially you, because your success opens wider doors of opportunity.
So, let me ask you a question.
As you think about your future, do you want to invent things, or change things?
Let me explain what I mean by this question.
Take the case of a farmer’s son who turned out to be one of the most important innovators of the last two centuries.
He had a great invention, but no suitable fuel, no machinery to connect it to, and therefore he wasn’t able to put the invention into practice in a way that had any significant impact on anyone, let alone the world.
His name is Nikolaus Otto. You have likely never heard of him.
Yet Otto invented the internal combustion engine back in 1876.
Now all of you have probably heard of the following two men … a German named Carl Benz and an American named Henry Ford.
You see, Otto’s innovation was, effectively, just sitting on a shelf accomplishing nothing.
Then Karl Benz translated Otto’s work into practice by developing the world’s first car.
Then Henry Ford translated Benz’s and Otto’s work into a product manufactured at scale which completely transformed the way we live and continues to influence urbanization, the global economy and geopolitics.
The point is, that the world you inherit has no shortage of engines.
The shortages, however, are capacities to think like a Benz or act like a Ford. These are the types of leaders who take ideas into practice to change lives.
Opportunities for taking ideas into practice are especially abundant in Pakistan. Their impact can be enormous on community and nation-building.
In 1886, a year before the invention of the engine, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a ten-year-old boy who is remembered today as the great Quaid-e-Azam.
And at this time a foundation stone of an institution was laid. The architect is Sir Ganga Ram, an icon of his generation who is also regarded as the father of modern Lahore.
Who would’ve known that upon that stone would stand a building so strong and so tall that for the next 133 years its name would become synonymous with success, accomplishment and leadership.
Aitchison College was born.
In 1888, the Lt. Governor of Punjab, Sir Charles Aitchison said:
Quote: “Much, very much, is expected of you. I trust you will use well the opportunities here afforded of you both for your education and for the formation of your character.”
These are wise words which Aitchison has ingrained in its values and produced some of the most prominent leaders in Pakistani politics, sports, science and the arts.
As you prepare to contribute to the 21st century workforce, employer expectations have increased. To be competitive, an undergraduate degree is essential. More importantly, intellectual development is not only about learning subject matter, but also about learning how to learn, how to unlearn and then relearn.
According to the World Economic Forum, by the time a freshman graduates, the marketplace will be dominated by machines that will perform as many tasks as humans.
Many jobs are already being displaced with algorithms running big data in the workplace. Platform based companies are already the most valuable in the world. But this disruption is expected to create 58 million net new jobs in the coming years.
This is a transformational shift for the global workforce. Universities are therefore developing new models and different conceptions of knowledge to address grand challenges to prepare students as leaders for new workforce skills.
At LUMS, which is where I hope to address you the next time we meet, you can take some giant steps.
Like Aitchison, LUMS prepares leaders. And the secret to leadership is rooted in its values, which put other people’s welfare before their own.
If your actions inspire others to learn more, to contribute more, and find purpose that is greater than yourself, then you are a leader.
This is why LUMS offers an education with “no borders” and is investing in University Centers to tackle issues dealing with water, energy, big data, urbanization, policy, and business in society and more.
Ladies and gentlemen, imagining a not-for profit university that brings students from all corners of Pakistan together also speaks to nation building. LUMS has grown into a comprehensive university that gives you Schools in Business, Humanities, Social Sciences, Law, Science & Engineering and Education.
No borders at LUMS means experiencing a core curriculum to experience a liberal arts education.
Diversity means that a son of a rickshaw driver ends up giving a Valedictorian address at our convocation last June. Generosity means distributing food to 3.1 million people in Pakistan which is what 3 LUMS students have done through their social enterprise called Rizq.
Our founder personifies values of leading from behind, from mentoring others and shining a light to those who want to change things and those who can persevere to command success. It isn’t surprising therefore that Syed Babar Ali Sb is an Aitchisonian.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is a honour to be here with you today.
Thank you, Principal Thomson, for inviting me. And thank you all for participating today!
God bless you.