Speech at the graduation ceremony

University of Newcastle, Australia


Shuming ZHAO, Ph.D.

Professor and Dean

School of Business

Nanjing University

Nanjing, P.R. China





Good morning, Chancellor, Deputy Chancellor, Academic Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen and Graduating Students:


It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to be here today, on this very special occasion, with the newest graduates of the Faculty of Business and Law, of the University of Newcastle. I would like to thank the university and the faculty, and in particular, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the faculty, Prof. Stephen Nicholas, for inviting me to join you and share with you this joyous occasion.

今天能与纽卡斯特大学商学和法律学院的各位毕业生,一起参加这个特殊的场合,我感到十分的荣幸和高兴。非常感谢学校和学院,尤其是副校长Stephen Nicholas教授的邀请,使我得以参加毕业典礼和各位分享这快乐的时光。

Let me first congratulate the graduates. To reach this milestone, you have overcome many challenges and worked very hard on your studies.


Today, as you start the next stage of your life journey in this fast changing world, I am very happy to have a chance to share some thoughts with you based on my own experiences. When you leave this university and enter a new environment, you will confront many challenges and opportunities. Please allow me to share with you my views on three matters: life-long learning, cross-cultural capability, and social responsibility.



First, Life-long learning. You need to understand that learning is a life-long task for everyone. What you learn may be different at different stages of your life, but you can never decrease or stop your commitment to learning. If you do, you soon will lag behind the more dynamic members of society. Today we live in a knowledge-based society, and learning has never been so important for each of us. Whatever you do, you are often expected to be a learning member, in a learning team, or a learning organization or learning community, and you are required to keep learning new knowledge and skills, and keep pace with the fast development of science and technology. Here, I would like to introduce two great scholars’ ideas on how to learn. One is Professor Peter Drucker, who is honored as the father of “modern management.” I was fortunate to learn a lot from him while I was studying for my master’s degree in 1981-83 and then a Ph.D. in 1987-1990 at Claremont Graduate University. His advice of managing time effectively is very useful. As you know, most of you will not dedicate full time for learning after leaving the university, and your time for learning will be limited. By managing your time effectively every day, you can, however, find enough time for learning.


The other scholar is Confucius, an influential Chinese teacher, who lived more than 2,500 years ago. One of his famous sayings about learning is that one can always find a teacher for himself or herself from whoever he walks together with. That means you can always learn something from the people around you. I hope the two wise scholars’ ideas on learning can be helpful for you.



I have worked for Nanjing University, the People’s Republic of China since 1977, more than 30 years. Some students for whom I served as an academic advisor, have become senior government officials, well-known professors, and successful CEOs. One of the questions I always asked them is ‘what the most important criteria for the people who they are hiring?’ They told me learning and critical thinking abilities. You are about to enter society. You should continue to learn and train your analytic abilities. We must develop the capacity to think analytically, think critically, think creatively, think across time and space, think across areas or fields, and have the ability to encourage and motivate others. Those are the qualities of my successful graduates. They succeeded because they continued to learn after graduation, think deeply and thoughtfully, and think before act. .


Second, Cross-cultural management capability. It is well recognized that globalization today involves everyone in an international or multi-cultural environment. Hence, cross-cultural management capability, the ability to act in a cultural context different from his or her own, is extremely necessary. Studies of many multinational enterprises support the conclusion that one important reason for the high failure rate of expatriates is that they lacked cross-cultural management capability and could not make their management behavior adaptive to the local cultural context. Now, cross-cultural management capability is taken as one of the core competences in the selection criterion of expatriate staff in many multi-cultural organizations. The University of Newcastle is strongly committed to an international focus on teaching, learning and research; I believe that you have obtained a great deal of cross-cultural knowledge and skill at this university. Still, I hope you will continue to enhance your cross-cultural management capability because you will confront more complicated cross-cultural challenges in your future career. Sensitivity to and tolerance of different cultures are crucial elements for forming cross-cultural management capability. What you can do to acquire this perspective is learn about other cultures, really understand them, respect them, and only then you can increase your cross-cultural management capability and be able to perform better in a multi-cultural environment.


Third, Social responsibility. As a human being, the essential thing is that you should accept responsibility for the society. People and some media often ask me the same question: “What drives you to act successfully as a scholar, as a dean of a school of business, and as an active professional at the same time”? I reply: “The strong feeling of the responsibility and deep love for my country.” Here, I would like to give you my personal experience. In May 1990, I received my Ph.D. in Higher Education and Human Resource Management from Claremont Graduate University in the United States; three American universities offered me jobs. And because of the Tiananmen Incident, George Bush, the former President of the United States, offered a green card to all Chinese students who were then studying in the United States. I thought that I needed to return to China to contribute the knowledge that I learned in the United States and train more Chinese students. At that time, there was actually no human resource management (HRM) in China, no one was even familiar with the term HRM. My family and I returned to China in 1991 after I completed my post-doctoral fellow program at the College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, in the United States, in order to introduce advanced western theories of management and HRM into China. After working together with my colleagues at School of Business at Nanjing University for more than 18 years, and having done everything we could do to develop HRM in China, my dream has come true. To tell you the truth, Nanjing University is ranked No.1 for HRM research and study in China. Western HRM, applied to China’s environment, has spread rapidly and been accepted widely in Chinese enterprises and non-profit organizations during the past decade. My dream is to establish HRM with Chinese characteristics. I have been a called “workaholic” by people who know me. (It seems not a good thing; definitely I do not want you to be a “workaholic”). Personal happiness and a high quality of work-life are closely related. I feel very happy when I can contribute to society. I always think that society has given me more honors and awards than the value of my contributions to society. Please remember, service to society is not your burden, but your honor and responsibility. I strongly believe that the more you contribute, the more your life will be enriched. I have tried to live my life according to that preception and urge you to consider this as a guiding principle in your own future.

第三,社会责任感。作为一个人,很关键的一点是要对社会富有责任感。人们和一些媒体经常问我同一个问题:“是什么驱使您同时成为一位成功的学者、www.2979.com院长和活跃的教授?”我回答:“是强烈的责任感和对祖国深深的爱。”在此,我要和你们分享我的人生的一段经历。1990年5月,我在美国克莱蒙特研究生院取得了高等教育和人力资源管理的博士学位,三所美国大学向我提供工作机会。同时,由于“天安门事件”,美国前总统George Bush先生给所有当时在美国学习的中国留学生发放绿卡。我觉得我需要回到祖国,把我在美国学到的常识贡献给国家,培育更多的中国学生。当时中国没有人力资源管理,甚至没有人熟悉人力资源管理这个词语。为了把先进的西方管理和人力资源管理理论带回中国,在美国佛罗里达大西洋大学www.2979.com完成了博士后研究后,我和我的家人于1991年回到了中国。与金沙线上娱乐的同事们经过了18年的共同努力,大家竭尽大家所能发展中国人力资源管理,我的梦想终于实现了。事实就是,金沙线上娱乐场在中国人力资源管理研究中名列前茅。西方的人力资源管理被应用于中国后,在过去的十年中快速广泛地被中国企业和公共部门所接受。我的梦想是建立有中国特色的人力资源管理理论。认识我的人都叫我“工作狂”,(其实这不是什么好事情,当然我不希翼你们也成为“工作狂”)。个人的幸福感和高工作-生活质量是紧密相关的。当我能为社会有所贡献的时候,我感到十分的快乐。我总感觉到社会回馈给我的荣誉和奖赏远远多于我对社会的贡献。请各位铭记,服务社会不是你的负担,而是你的荣耀和责任。我坚信贡献越多,你的生活就会越充实越丰富。我曾以此为准则生活,也强烈地希翼你们以此为未来生活的信条。

Finally, I sincerely hope that all of you will have the five C abilities: confidence, competence, communication, creativity, and collaboration.


I wish you all a great success in your careers! Again, Congratulations to All graduates!


Thank you!



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