Commencement Speech at the University of Florida

The fortnight that passed by was an amazing experience for me. The highlight was the Commencement Ceremony at the School of Engineering at the University of Florida. It was a matter of great honor to India and Mindtree that I was invited to deliver the Commencement Speech. Prior to the Commencement Ceremony, all the graduating engineers go through a solemn “Ring Ceremony”. This is a ritual they must pass through; each graduating engineer is required to take an oath and then receive a ring of obligation in their finger. To honor my presence, I was inducted by the University into their Order of Engineers. The idea of the Ring Ceremony has been borrowed from the Canadians who have a ceremonial pledge that every engineer must take, famously composed by none other than Rudyard Kipling. It goes thus:

“I……………in the presence of these my betters and my equals in my Calling, bind myself upon my Honour and Cold Iron, that, to the best of my knowledge and power, I will not hence forward suffer or pass, or be privy to the passing of Bad Workmanship, or Faulty Material, in anything that concerns my works before men as an Engineer, or my dealing with my own Soul before my Maker. My Time I will not refuse; my Thought I will not grudge; my Care will not deny towards the honour, use, stability, and perfection, of any works to which I may be called to set my hand. My Fair Wages for that work I will openly take. My Reputation in my Calling I will honourably guard; but I will in no way go about to compass, or wrest judgment or gratification, from anyone with whom I may deal. And further, I will early and warily strive my uttermost against professional jealousy, or the belittling of my working colleagues, in any field of their labour. For my assured failures and derelictions, I ask pardon beforehand of my betters in my Calling here assembled; praying that in the hour of my temptations, weakness and wariness, the memory of this my Obligation, and of the company before whom it was entered into, may return to aid, comfort and restrain.”

After the customary pledge in the Canadian tradition, each graduating engineer is given a ring whose metal is derived from a fallen bridge! It is meant to be a sober reminder of the responsibility of the engineering profession! The ring at the University of Florida is made of stainless steel, “to be worn with humility and not to be flaunted”. After the ring ceremony was over, in the evening, the Commencement Ceremony took place at an indoor stadium. I was awed by the 4000 strong audience; I have never spoken to a group this large.

As a run up to the Commencement Speech, I had asked graduating students to tell me what engaged their minds by posting their thoughts, what they wanted me to speak on. After all, it was their Commencement, not mine. They posted their thoughts on a specially created Facebook page. I was quite overwhelmed with their questions. Finally, inspired by a particular question from graduating student Elise Burke, I spoke on the idea of change. You can read the text of the speech here or watch the video if you prefer.



On the sidelines of the event, I was invited to a conversation on leadership with Dean Cammy Abernathy. She is an amazing leader herself. After spending time at the MIT and Stanford, she has taken over as Dean, School of Engineering. To be interviewed by her was a great honor! See this video here.



On that note, enjoy the summer and I will see you soon!

Mohan Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

Very good Speech

sailesh kumar mishra Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

Vary valuable sppech in general and particularly for the students of this University.

chitra Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

Dear Sir, really proud of you and such a inspiring speech.


Nishad Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

The speeech you have delivered will be remembered to a very great extent. And alluding it to the great Amazon river is such a wise thought. #WeCanNeverInspireEnough!

Sridhar Vedula Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

A PERFECT mind boggling address to all the up coming aspirants. This should actually refine the impression of being Lazy lads to turn into GO GETTERS amongst many minds.

Akilan Vijayarangam Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

Inspiring speech from you Subroto Sir.
Indeed, will create great impact to the students and us….thank you !!!

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Manjerekar Rao Says
Wednesday May 21st 2014

This world is a circle and there is no doubt that you will not meet the person whom you admire the most.

I got to listen to Mr. Subroto Sir once again with that amazing speech he had delivered.

superb & inspiring

chandrashekhar Says
Thursday May 22nd 2014

Yet to reach to his words and understand the meaning behind it and I ‘ll take that and go forward do something meaningful in my life..

Thank you sir..

You are a true Human..

Surendhiran Says
Friday May 23rd 2014

It was an inspiring speech Subroto Sir.

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Friday May 23rd 2014

Great speech. The story revolving around the river is a fascinating thought. The uncertainty in life is beautiful that keeps us going. Reminds me of a TV ad few years ago that says, “you never know what you will become”.

Uma Magge Says
Sunday May 25th 2014

Subroto walks the talk. Very inspiring. proud to be a Mindtree Mind.

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It is an inspiration for all .In this journey called life , each of us create our own path but impact all around us.Thank you sir for sharing these wonderful and inspiring thoughts, your books and articles continue to inspire me and many !

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