Response by Dlair Kadhem
Thank you Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor and the University of Essex for the wonderful honour which you have bestowed upon me. I am extremely humbled and flattered to be standing here before you. I want to thank Dr Anthony Vickers for the generous oration. I want to thank my family for being here. And finally I want to thank my fellow graduates and congratulate you for your wonderful achievements today from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, from the Centre of Computation Finance and Economic Agents, from the International Academy and from the Department of Language and Linguistics, and Learning and Development.
I am absolutely speechless, that is why I prepared this speech. When you finish university people will tell you 'The world is your oyster. Just do not forget to touch in and touch out. Otherwise it’s one heck of an expensive journey.' When I finished university and after countless job interviews I finally found a job and life is good. But was I happy? No. I started formulating ideas of running my own business and doing something that will make me happy.
Having a good idea and implementing it gives one a sense of accomplishment. One feels proud and astonished at how a small idea that originated whilst having breakfast on a rainy day could turn into a successful business. I remember discussing my ideas with the people around me. I remember sharing my ideas with family and friends, and warning me of being too young to set up my own business. And that my ideas are dangerous, risky and could waste valuable time. But life is all about breaking away from conventions. If you have the drive and ambition, and conviction of carrying something through, then your rewards are plentiful.
Oscar Wilde once said "If an idea is not dangerous it’s unworthy of being called an idea at all." Starting a business requires manageable responsibilities. One needs to be innovative, inquisitive and creative, and ethical. But you also need an element of luck. Many starter businesses go through some sort of pivot, a change in direction when the first idea is not successful. For example, Paypal was for transferring money between Palm pilots. Twitter was just a group SMS website and YouTube was a video dating website. And the list goes on. Of course there are notable exceptions such as Amazon, EBay and Facebook which brings up an important distinction between pivot and merely expanding a core business.
For example, Amazon going from selling only books to other categories and Facebook going from only college students to upper registration. After starting I scene I was immediately greeted by the biggest recession of my lifetime. Having experienced the economic downturn of such an accelerated rate I had to be flexible and to be able to change. I am a firm believer that when one door closes another door opens. So I attempted the expansion. When that failed I pivoted to business.
Finally I would like to say that in life things do not come easy. You have to work extremely hard to achieve a goal. I come from a very humble background and to be recognised for my achievements by the university is both encouraging and inspiring. Coming from Iraq I want to say that I have seen it all - the good and the bad, the injustice and the torture. I have no doubt that this hardship shaped me and my outlook on life, and the way I conduct myself both as an individual as well as a businessman. As Albert Einstein once said "Try not to become a man of success, but a man of value." Thank you for your time and I wish you the best of luck in your future career.