Adapt, be a leader and be decisive – words of wisdom for graduating students from US Ambassador to Australia

Posted 28th May 2019

On 18th May 2019, the United States Ambassador to Australia, His Excellency Ambassador Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr. was the keynote speaker delivering the commencement address at the graduation ceremony of 24 Master of Science degree students at Carnegie Mellon University in Australia (CMUA) in Adelaide.

Ten students graduated with a Master of Science in Information Technology with Business Intelligence and Data Analytics degree, 4 with a Master of Science in Information Technology degree and a further 10 with a Master of Science in Public Policy and Management degree.

Ambassador Culvahouse Jr. delivered an uplifting and thought-provoking speech, congratulating the graduating class and acknowledging the sacrifices made during their academic journey. He implored them to realize their full potential and embrace their bright futures.

He then shared his three keys to success – adaptation, leadership and decisiveness.

Stressing the importance of adaptation, he stated, “Whether you like it or not, you must adapt. I know from experience that your hopes and dreams will fade and fail without continued growth, without continued innovation, without continued adaptation. I caution you that everything moves on. The skills that you have learned are cutting edge, they are at the pinnacle of what can be taught today. But how about tomorrow?”.

Advising on the importance of leadership, he said, “I once believed that leaders were born, not made. I have come to learn that I was 100% flat wrong!” We are all, even without realizing it, the product of informal leadership training throughout our lives. From teachers, athletics coaches, from our parents.

But you need to spend time learning how to be a leader. Leadership training is a never-ending process because leadership techniques are forever evolving.

US Ambassador Arthur Culvahouse Jr. on stage with CMU-A Head, Professor Emil Bolongaita

On his final point on the need to be decisive to make a difference in the world, he stated, “The fast-paced changes of the modern world do not favour dithering. They favour decisiveness and fierce execution, relentless execution. Decisiveness after deliberation will set you apart from other smart people with degrees from good universities.”

He warned that not all decisions will be great decisions, but fierce executive will often carry an early mover across the finish line, even if those decisions are less than perfect.

“I know every day won’t be easy, and that there will be hurdles along the way, but be comforted by the fact that success is measured in terms of harvest not perfection. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection impede your ability to make effective decisions,” said Ambassador Culvahouse.

Ambassador Culvahouse also presented the 2019 Excellence Award to Ignacio Maximo Bosch from Argentina who had earlier received his Master of Science in Public Policy and Management degree with Highest Distinction.

Since its inception in 2006, over 500 students from 26 countries have completed their Master of Science degrees at Carnegie Mellon University’s Adelaide campus, while another 450 more have studied in Adelaide and gone on to graduate at the CMU Pittsburgh campus.

Carnegie Mellon University has over 110,00 alumni working in 40 countries around the world.

Watch the full Keynote Speech