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Faculty of Business and Law - Occasional Speaker

Saturday, 28 August 2010, 7.00pm

Ms Denise McComish

“Fear of Creativity”

Tonight marks the beginning of the next journey for the ECU Graduating Class of 2010.

It’s the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on your achievements.

It is inspiring to see so many friends and families proudly enjoying this celebration.

Congratulations to not only the students – but to your family and friends as well.
As well as the pride that you feel, I expect many parents here tonight could in fact feel some relief that this part of their child’s journey has been successfully navigated.
And of course, most students have an extended network which includes spouses, children, carers and friends.
Tonight is also a celebration of your support. Some of you may use this occasion to reflect on what could have started out as tentative steps and the graduation ceremony is a realisation of just how far the students have travelled.
You should all be very proud of your part in their journey.

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it”.

Tonight is about celebrating your success and the hard work and dedication that has gone into achieving this university certificate that you are receiving tonight.

I would also like to acknowledge the dedicated Edith Cowan teaching and administration staff who have played such an influential role with you all.

To the Graduating Class of 2010 you are now part of the ECU legacy and a fine example for generations to come.

Your degree is more than just a “proof of knowledge” - coming from ECU it is a connection to an institution and an association with a group of people, your colleagues and friends around you.

Life as a university student is memorable – truly a fantastic time, and don’t let those memories fade too much or connections be forgotten. Make an effort to keep the lines of communication open with the many acquaintances you have made on campus.

We certainly live in a time of ‘global social networking’ so there is no excuse for not staying in touch.  Only last week a very old friend found me through googling me, we haven’t been in touch for over twenty years! I was delighted!

Maintaining life long relationships will place you in good stead in the business sector – and it is good for the soul as well.
In your working life, you will realise that “people do business with people” – establishing relationships are core to a successful business.

During your studies, you have learned important technical skills, culminating in a degree. What you do with your degree is now largely up to you, however my advice is to never stop learning.

And it’s not just about technical prowess – never underestimate the importance of honing your personal skills.
Whilst we live in a fast pace, technologically savvy environment – fundamentals like knowing how to write properly, being able to have an eloquent conversation, listening to people – are also essential skills.

Lately, I’ve been seeing quite a bit of commentary about “Fear and Creativity”.  It an area I see occurring in current societal and political environments and I believe there are some insights that may assist you if you are moving into the business sector, and into other sectors as well.  

Reflective of this sentiment, as a community we are becoming increasingly “fearful”.

We live in fear of not getting a degree, not getting a job or a good enough job, and then we get a job – we fear losing it.
We fear terrorism, global conflicts.
We fear what is going to become of our environment because of climate change.
We fear we are not going to be liked – we fear not fitting in.
Seemingly, it’s an ever expanding list.

‘Fear’ is a modern issue we are now facing.
When you think about the widely accepted laid back image of Australians and connecting that image to ‘fear’ it almost seems a contradiction. Aren’t we supposed to be a fearless bunch?

As part of the political landscape, has our ‘fear’ shaped policies towards refugees?

However – let’s not turn the lights out just yet!

The message I am keen to impart to you is “don’t let fear stifle your creativity”.

And by creativity, I’m not talking about running an advertising campaign.
Creativity can be applied to all professions – it’s about your approach – how you think.
Creativity offers boundless prospects – only limited by your own imagination.

In a business environment the power of creativity can give an organisation a competitive edge and advantage.

Being a creative thinker will inspire you to think differently about how you approach your work.
Being creative will make you think about the impact you can have as an individual.

As you are aware, I’m an Audit Partner with KPMG, one of the Big 4 global accounting firms.
How many times do you think I have heard all those stereo type jokes about accountants? Too many!
It’s probably inappropriate for me to joke about ‘creative accounting’
however, every day I work with CFOs of corporations, exploring ideas and seeking solutions that will enhance their business. Auditors are indeed creative folk!

I believe our education system has a responsibility to celebrate, encourage and grow creativity. As a Board Member of ECU I would like to think that we have encouraged you to think creatively.

We have an abundance of technology, systems, and processes. Successful future leaders will need to be creative – they will be the ones who dare to push forward and go where we haven’t gone before.

As you enter the workforce – I dare you to challenge assumptions. Perhaps consider those assumptions and then do the reverse.

Take risks.
Think differently.
As some might say, Rent a head!
Instead of thinking what your boss may want you to do – think – how would Google do it – how would Richard Branson do it? - how would Nelson Mandela do it?

Don’t be afraid of failure. The more fearful you are, the less creative you will be.
In fact you should celebrate failures as well as successes.

And always remember – the brave are not without fear.
It’s just that the most successful leaders are braver than anyone else. Sometimes you only have to be braver for just 4 or 5 minutes longer than anyone else.

I encourage you to have an inquisitive mind. It’s ok to make a mistake – but try not to make that same mistake twice!

Einstein coined the phrase “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”. This is still so very relevant today and sums up my message to you.

As you start the next chapter of your life – there is so much for you to look forward to.
I am sure you will go on and have successful careers.
Try to be as smart or smarter than anyone else.
Surround yourself with bright and energetic people as they will challenge you to do your best and elevate your thinking.

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with  great business people, very smart in business but also humanistic, who have allowed me to develop and have supported me along the way.

I am passionate about my job. I love being part of a global professional services firm. I work hard and get a great sense of achievement not only from the outcomes but from the journey along the way. Some of my proudest moments are when I see the culmination of a career journey, someone blossoming from a graduate to a partner and know that I have assisted them through counselling and mentoring along the way.

Let’s reflect on  the ECU connection. I hope you are proud of your achievements through this institution.
There are strong synergies with ECU’s values, and principles I encourage you to adopt in both your professional and personal life. ECU is guided by integrity, respect, rational enquiry and personal excellence.

Could I suggest you use these values as your own footprint? The ECU values very much reflect those we embrace at KPMG.
For example, “integrity” – just so important – a benchmark on how we do business. I work in a litigious environment, governed by strict corporate governance guidelines, we adopt rigorous and competitive processes but above else we need to uphold our personal integrity.  As a partner, I am liable for the actions of all my partners and they are liable for mine!

Hold true to yourself, your work ethic and your humanity. It is these qualities that will guide you further on your journey.

Be proud of where you are graduating from. The namesake of our university, Edith Cowan dared to make a difference.
Edith believed that education was fundamental to tackling the social issues of her day and that learning was key to growth, change and improvement.
A wise women indeed.
In 1921, at the age of 60 she became the first woman elected to an Australian Parliament.
A trail blazer.
Her baton, our future, is now in your capable hands.

I would like to leave you with my closing thought

“don’t cry because it is over – smile because it has happened”.

Goodnight and enjoy the rest of the evening.

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