About the speaker
Our speaker today is Professor Vlado Perkovic.
Vlado is the Executive Director of The George Institute, Australia; a Professor of Medicine at the University of Sydney, and a Staff Specialist in Nephrology at the Royal North Shore Hospital.
His research focus is in clinical trials and epidemiology, particularly in preventing the progression of kidney disease and its complications. He has been involved in developing Australian and global guidelines in kidney disease, cardiovascular risk assessment and blood pressure management.
Vlado is a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council Principal Committee on Research Translation; the Chair of the Scientific Committee of the Australasian Kidney Trials Network; and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and of the American Society of Nephrology.
He holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Melbourne.
It gives me great pleasure to invite Professor Vlado Perkovic to deliver the occasional address.
Pro-Chancellor Mr Robert Kelly, Vice-Chancellor: Professor Attila Brungs, Presiding Deans: Professor John Daly (from the Faculty of Health) and Professor Mary Spongberg (from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences), University Secretary: Mr Bill Patterson, Academic Board Chair: Associate Professor Joanne Gray, Staff, distinguished guests, Graduates, their families and friends.
I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, and paying my respects to their elders, past and present, and the Aboriginal people here today. We are truly fortunate to be able to share this wonderful location.
Particularly on what is a very special and important day in the lives of so many ex-students, now graduands. And I am very honoured to be invited to address you on such an important occasion.
To the graduands - congratulations! You have each worked extremely hard to get into your courses, and then to successfully complete them which is no small feat. You have learnt a lot and changed during your time here, both in classes and outside. As Mark Twain said, ‘I have never let my schooling interfere with my education’.
You have all made many sacrifices to get to this point- passed up opportunities that were no doubt more lucrative in the short term in order to better yourselves.
In addition, you have worked long hours, struggled through financial challenges, passed up opportunities to spend time with family and friends, and probably developed a few grey hairs; all to get here today. You deserve to be recognised for those efforts, and I heartily congratulate you on your achievement.
But this is just the start of the rewards. Exciting opportunities await as a result of your hard work, and I wish each of you every success in seeking them.
The real reward is being able to pursue a career that you care about. You have a chance now not only to find a role that allows you to do what you love, so that it doesn’t feel like work at all.
That is the real blessing of higher education, and I encourage you to seek out those opportunities.
I am fortunate enough to have a job that I love, so that I am happy to go to work- at least I am most of the time- which means that I am able to work harder and achieve more than people in a job they don’t enjoy.
At the end of the day, the key driver of success is not the field that you work in or the letters after your name- Richard Branson for one started as a sales assistant in a record shop with no formal qualifications and went from there. So what is the key driver of success- it is your commitment to whatever it is you do. Work hard, embrace and take full responsibility for your roles, and give them everything you have, and you will be rewarded in spades.
Graduation often feels like the end of a chapter, and in some ways it is. But it is a wonderful moment when a world of possibility opens up before you. Like finishing high school, it is a moment when everything is at your feet, with a plethora of choices trying to entice you
Many of you will do further training and/or degrees.
When I did my undergraduate degree, I thought the most important thing would be to complete it as quickly as possible and get into the workforce.
Once it was completed though, additional specialist training attracted me and off I went again with the same goal.
When I finished my training, I did a research PhD to get a break from patient care, and was surprised to find I loved clinical research, so now work full time in a role that I had never dreamed I would have.
I tended to fall into my roles, and it was not until I was well into my 30s, that I found an opportunity that felt like something I had been born to do. But grasping the opportunity is not easy.
And this is a key message- be open to opportunities, no matter how left-field or different to whatever plans you might have. The key, life-changing opportunity that helps you find your niche may have been the degree you just completed, it may be your next role, or it may be several steps into the future. Take calculated risks if they feel right.
I moved from Melbourne to Sydney with 3 children under the age of 6 and my wonderful and very tolerant wife, away from family and friends because I found a wonderful role and we decided it was the right move for us.
It was the best move we ever made, and I am now fortunate enough to lead the organisation that I moved to join, running major global projects, creating change around the world, and leading hundreds of people.
So don’t be afraid to take chances, particularly while you are young and able to do so. You will be working for a long time, keep looking for the type of role that is right for you.
It is important and appropriate today to recognise the support you have each received from family and friends, some of whom are here with you. While this day is all about you, remember to say thank you, and share the joy. There should be more than enough to go around.
The opportunities open to you are extraordinary and unprecedented. More than ever, the world is awash with opportunity for people who are prepared to take on difficult problems, and develop novel approaches and solutions.
The rate of change is faster than ever- social media didn’t exist a decade ago and is now pervasive. My watch is more powerful than my computer of a few years ago. Who knows where we will be in a decade, but this is part of the opportunity.
We are also in a global environment, where anyone with a phone or tablet and an internet connection can communicate with almost anyone on the planet, contribute to change in almost any part of the globe, and create a business that could become anything.
Profoundly exciting times.
In my area of health where change has been slow, the stage is set for a major redesign that brings healthcare into the 21st century. The traditional doctor based model is redundant, and big change is coming. This is a wonderful opportunity for people able to drive this change, and create a better solution to our health problems.
And this is my key message to you: you have all been given a wonderful opportunity.
A platform to create change exists, and change is your responsibility.
You are the future leaders, the change-makers, and the problem solvers. We as a society need you to be creative, adventurous, and to see big problems as opportunities to solve. Albert Einstein said that ‘the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge, but imagination’.
Think, change, do- the motto of UTS. You have been taught to think; you have been changed and trained to create change; it is time for you to do- just imagine what you might achieve.
I wish you every success, and have no doubt you will deliver.