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Keep Learning, Sultan Nazrin Tells MBA Graduates


KUALA LUMPUR: As the Asia School of Business for the MBA Class of 2023 graduated today, the Sultan of Perak imparted a short and simple message that he himself believes in. “Keep learning,” said Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah before ending his commencement address at the Asia School of Business here today. Sultan Nazrin said he had decided to offer them the piece of guidance that resonated with his own life’s journey.

“And while today may, for many of you, mark the end of your formal education, I want to end by reminding you that there are always new skills to develop and new discoveries to be made. “So do keep learning as you continue your journey from here, and do not ever close off your imagination to new discoveries and opportunities. “Stay interested, stay engaged and stay curious. And remember that, even after centuries of revolutionary, high-tech inventions – after electricity, the Internet, and now ChatGPT – the human mind remains the most powerful tool on the planet.

“And while you keep seeking the truth through lifelong learning, do also make sure to take actions as well,” said Sultan Nazrin. He said they could also look to Academy Award winner actress Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, who had delivered an address to the Harvard Law School of 2023 on how to pick oneself up after falling. He said in it, she drew on her own experience of moving unexpectedly from a career in dance to a career in film – of taking on industry barriers and death-defying stunts – to offer the graduating students some sage advice on “how to survive the fall” and get back up again.

“Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, I have never taken on any action movie stunts myself. So, if you want to learn about falling and bouncing back, whether metaphorically or physically, I urge you to look up Yeoh’s wonderful speech,” he said. Sultan Nazrin said empathy and cultural understanding were both so important in the world today as while connected by technology, transport, business and networks, humanity was still plagued by many divisions.

He said there were also other uncertainties and grave risks from artificial intelligence (AI), geopolitics and the impacts of the climate crisis. “To steer humanity through these challenging times, what we need perhaps even more than the excellent understanding of business attained through your MBA programmes is compassion, togetherness and above all a sense of global community.

“We need to be aware of this community as perhaps never before – extending our concerns and applying our responsibilities not only to the rest of humanity, but to all other living creatures in the world and to the planet itself,” he added. He said in the past year, the world has witnessed a development which is as “seismic as the harnessing of electricity for human use was in the 19th century.”

Sultan Nazrin was referring to ChatGPT and the other generative AI tools, which emerged very recently and are being hailed as both saviour and downfall of humans. He said these tools would certainly massively boost productivity as humans, saving time and creating multiple efficiencies across all kinds of processes, let alone helping to spark ideas for anyone struggling with writer’s block.

“But they will also reshape so many aspects of our lives beyond the workplace, in unprecedented, and, yes, unsettling ways. And as far as generative AI goes, especially in combination with other advancing elements of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, this is only the beginning. “So while this changing landscape presents exciting opportunities, with challenges in need of solutions and so many discoveries and innovations waiting to be made, it is also daunting.

“It will require members of the workforce of tomorrow to be inventive, proactive, adaptable, in ways never demanded before. Let alone being digital natives, these workers – including yourselves – will be natives of artificial, augmented and virtual worlds, using technology both existing and yet to be created,” he said.

Originally published by New Straits Times
Also published in The StarThe EdgeAstro AwaniBernamaSinar HarianOriental Daily News and The Malaysian Insight