Advice For Students
Okay. So, yes, I can give at least a few, related pieces. What Ive observed in many of the current students is that many of them are now into the show rather than the substance. And this is also in the forms in which they do their final group presentations, it's all gadgets and gizmos. I tell them, I said, things can actually go very wrong with that. Because one of your gizmos doesn't work, you've got a glitch, you're finished, right? But I said, more than that, after the show, what? You know, I said, the important thing is if you share with somebody a three-minute video clip and the guy said, Wah, this is good! but he doesn't take it out to the coffee shop, to the restaurant, to his wife, to his daughter and say, My God, today I saw this clip,î he doesn't talk about it, you're finished. I said, the new world you have to have both form and substance. But, I said, probably the way I see it, the world has had a lot of show in recent times but it's now going to go back a little bit to the substance, so make sure you read a lot. Read widely. And think about what you read. That's number one.
Number two, don't be afraid, you know what I mean? God, or whoever you believe is your creator, whether its nature, whether you're just self-born, you have been given a very special and precious gift called life, and you have to make beauty out of that life. Try to minimize the ugliness, try to increase the beauty and the joy. And I said, because you're young, you're youthful, you have a whole life ahead of you with everything given. I said, many times I think that if I was born today, how different it would be, with all the future. SMU is such a beautiful place because you get to meet all these CEOs, you've get to meet wonderful people from all around the world. You get to travel, your exchange, your internship and all that. Don't waste any precious moment. It's so easy to just drift, and once you get caught by the form then you get gripped by the idea of distraction and all that, then you lose your focus. And even though you get your degree, the world out there is going to test you in very, very different ways.
So I give them the example of this Goldman Sachs guy. So one of the senior VPs of Goldman Sachs flew in from New York to Singapore and was having a round of meetings. This was about four years ago. He called me up for a chat over breakfast, and he said, you know, we looked to your university for creating these wonderful graduates. But, he said, quite frankly, I am a bit disappointed. So, I said, what happened? He said they had one guy from SMU who had reached the kind of VP level and then was in line to be promoted. Now apparently in Goldman Sachs, when you go from VP to senior VP, you become part of the global team, then you're no longer responsible for any place or country, you're at the top. And with it comes like a minimum of 15 million bonus every year for the top 50 of them. So it's big money, right? He said, we interviewed this SMU graduate who had been nine years with Goldman Sachs, our first cohort, very good, very able, but one area for some reason seems to be a little bit missing. And he said he couldn't create a conversation that centred on things that were beyond the financial world. So he said, we asked him what was the last play he saw? And he said the guy said, the last play was probably when I was first year of university, like years ago. And they said, oh, that's okay. So do you travel? Oh yeah, I travel. Where? Oh, New York, Chicago, London and all that. So he said, well, in London, there's the Victoria Museum, Albert and Victoria Museum, the VNA, what part of VNA do you like? And he said, actually, I haven't been in there. But he said, by the time we asked two, three more questions like this, we saw nothing but ignorance. So he said, Kirpal, at that level, when we meet, we don't talk about this data and all that. That is all done. We talk about these other things because we talk about people who have got like 500 million dollars to invest. You want to manage that portfolio? You've got to build up a client relationship. That guy wants a person who knows about megatrends, knows about culture and arts.
Then he told me, he said, the Malaysian guy, they also interviewed the Malaysian candidate, he also didn't get the job. But, he said, the Malaysian guy at least had the capacity to hijack the conversation. Because he said when we asked him about the London Symphony, he said, I haven't had much experience of the London Symphony, I've heard a couple of things over the radio, or maybe my wife has a record somewhere. But he said, I can tell you something about the Malaysian symphony. But he said, your Singapore guy was not even able to do that. We gave him opportunities, nothing happened. So he said, maybe your university might want try to acculturate your students with this larger, bigger picture. But, of course, it is a challenge.