Stay flexible, alumnus tells graduates

Delivering the summer commencement keynote address on Aug. 23, 2013, was the easy part for Thunderbird alumnus Raj Singh ’84. Getting to Arizona before the start of the ceremony became the real challenge for Singh when a canceled flight threatened his arrival from Europe. Singh, a member of Thunderbird's Board of Fellows and Group Chief Risk Officer for Standard Life, used his last-minute detours to Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as a metaphor for the career journeys of Thunderbird's newest alumni.  “Stay with your dreams,” he said. “But your dreams may take you left and right. Sometimes you have to bob and weave and find your way through.”

Some job seekers hold out for the ideal opportunity, but Singh said it usually works better to seize opportunities as they present themselves. “Take something when you get it,” he said. “It may not be the dream job, but it will lead you somewhere else.”

Singh’s own dream of a global career led him from the small Wisconsin town where he grew up to Thunderbird. Eventually he found opportunities as an entrepreneur, banker and insurance professional in the United Kingdom, Germany and Switzerland. He also has served on the boards of two Middle Eastern financial institutions. Singh spoke without a script because he wanted to have a heartfelt conversation with the 91 graduates from 14 countries. “You have been changed for life,” he told them. “The friendships here are permanent.”

Magazine Department: