"Now more than ever, the world needs people who are unafraid to learn"

Professor Caroline Wiertz, Deputy Dean of Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) addresses alumni from the Class of 2020 at their rearranged in-person Graduation ceremony.

"Graduation is always an outstanding achievement. But the unique circumstances in which you finished your degrees in the spring of last year make it especially commendable.

"Many of you will be back here for the first time in 18 months. No matter where you have been in the world, the events of the last year and half will have had a profound and lasting impact on us all.

"In your private lives, you may have experienced illness, been separated from your families and friends, and even lost loved ones.

"In your professional lives, you may have had to take your first steps into the workplace remotely, meeting your new colleagues only on a computer screen. Or you may have chosen to pursue further study, again probably mostly via a computer screen.

"But the unique circumstances of the pandemic may have created space for something we rarely do enough of: Reflection. You may have asked yourself some questions we often avoid, such as: When it all comes down to it, what is actually important? What makes “a good life”?

"I have certainly asked myself these questions. As is my natural inclination as an academic, I have looked into the research on this topic.

"First of all, we lead better lives when we care about others and the world around us. Relationships are what makes life worthwhile. Relationships with people, but also relationships with the natural world.

"Relationships require investment. They require time, effort and generosity, and when it comes to people they require empathy, patience and a willingness to give second chances. While we will sometimes be disappointed, investing in relationships is still the most important investment we can make, something equally true of our personal and professional lives.

"Secondly, we live better lives when we are learning. Learning new knowledge and new skills gives us a sense of achievement and confidence that is fundamental to our wellbeing. In many ways, having the confidence that we can always learn what we don’t yet know is like a secret superpower. If we have that confidence and ability, change and uncertainty are no longer threatening, but a manageable part of life and may even be exciting.

"If you have taken away just one thing from your time with us, I hope it is a desire and openness to always learn.

"Thirdly, we lead better lives when we feel in control of our destiny. This is easier said than done because things happen.

"We also discover fairly soon that the so-called 'just world hypothesis' is not true. It’s not true that good things happen to good people. I know plenty of good people to whom terrible things happen, and vice versa. I’m sure you do too.

Professor Caroline Wiertz

"Whenever you feel powerless in a situation, remember that you are not. We can't often influence events, but we can always influence our own response to them. We can influence how we frame them and how we feel about them, and we can influence if and how to act. That decision is always ours to make, and that in itself already gives us back control.

"Finally, we lead better lives when we don’t compare ourselves to others. Nothing good ever comes of that, especially in the age of social media where everyone puts their best, carefully curated and photoshopped life forward. We might be comparing ourselves to a complete fantasy.

"Even more importantly, it simply does not matter what anybody else does. They are not you. What matters is what you do – given your unique talents and flaws, your unique history, and your unique life circumstances. Whatever that is, stay true to yourself. You are the only person you really have to live with your entire life – make sure you are comfortable with who that person is.

"Now more than ever, the world needs people who care, people who are unafraid to learn, people who take control of the things they can control, and people who take action with integrity.

"You are these people. As future business leaders, you have a responsibility to do what you can to influence and shape the world around you. Every single one of you has the opportunity to make a difference. Grab that opportunity with both hands and make the most of it.

"You should all be tremendously proud of your achievements and the resilience you have shown in the last few years. I know that we are very proud of you, and we cannot wait to find out what you will do next.

"As graduates, you have joined a very special network of alumni consisting of more than 50,000 former Bayes students from 160 different countries.

"Stay in touch with us. Join us at alumni events in London and around the world, tell us of your achievements, and share your expertise and networks with future generations of Bayes students. As a community, we lift each other up and everyone benefits if we do well.

"‘Always Curious. Always Bold. Always Learning.’ is the new motto for Bayes Business School. Keep this with you in everything you do.

"I am proud to call you alumni, and look forward to continuing to build our futures together.

"Good luck and congratulations once again!"

Congratulations to everybody graduating from Bayes Business School. To stay in touch, please visit our alumni website.

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